Monday, July 25

Against Schools

I decided that a comment to Ben Watson's blog on "How Bill Gate's is overhauling High Schools" would get lost. So I feel compelled to respond with another blog.

I think Bill Gates is misguided. He is using an expensive technological bandaid to try and fix a system that is inherently broken. I'm not surprised at the frame he's using. Nor am I shocked at the results he's getting. All the technololgy in the world will not change a broken system. And the system is broken. The sad part is, in a world desperately short on resources, he's wasting his money.

Ironically, he knows what must be done, but has no clue about how it needs to be fixed. He is aware that it is more critical now than ever before to make the American educational system shine like it did up to the middle of the last century, or we will lose our lead in the marketplace that is now found everywhere and anywhere, in a flat world, driven by knowledge, and guided by a digital revolution that has barely begun.

I have a strong suspicion that many readers have not heard of John Taylor Gatto

The reason is simple. He is one of the most experienced and highly praised high school teachers of the century. He has also been branded by the very establishment he tried to change a 'radical thinker' and a 'heretical antiestablishment deamer'.

Odd how our best minds are always kept away from the conversation.

If you are truly interested in changing the way America learns before kids ever get into the workplace, as well as after, read John's latest essay "Against School" published in Harper's Magazine, September, 2003.

And if you want to read more, you can get the tenth anniversary release of his classic book Dumbing us Down at his website.


Anonymous said...

David: I just finished reading "Against Schools" and I wanted to go out and scream! Seriously I'm really mad! What we are REALLY doing to our kids in school and then in corporations in terms of learning is unbelievable.

Why has no one else written or spoken out on this. I'm reconsidering home schooling as of now. Thank you for the heads-up.

jay said...

Read his The Underground History of American Education and you'll go bonkers! It's free and available on the Gatto site. Clark Aldrich does refer to Gatto in his first book; he also home schools. His enemies label Gatto a nihilist. There's no doubt he's over the top but I can't disagree with his take on the situation.


Anonymous said...

Being a homeschooling dad and a T & D professional who sees the effects of the American education system, I think both Bill Gates and John Taylor Gatto are right on the mark. The essential way we teach children has to be changed, and there are schools that are trying to do just that.

Of course part of the issue why our schools fail so misearbly is that most parents are too busy with their own lives to spend time reinforcing the importance of school with their kids. Gates wants to increase the use of technology in schools (can't be bad for Microsoft, right?), and he's on to part of the solution.

Gatto is attacked because he probably angers the teachers' unions, who always resist anything that might threaten their dominance.

The bottom line is that all of America is at fault-- teachers for the union pressures, parents for being too self-absorbed, and politicians for doing things with education that makes them look good but won't necessary help the situation.

It is indeed, as some say, a complex problem, and at the root of it is the loss of the influence of Christian values in America and the rise of consumerism and self-absorption.

David Grebow said...

Dear Anon:

Thank you for taking the time to post such a great comment. I think you're correct in your analysis of some big parts of the problem - the lack of education continuum that goes from the home to the school and back around, as well as a loss of values.

I'm not sure I'd label them Christian, but I believe they have alot to do with mutual respect, caring, a love of learning, and more.

And like you said, we all are part of the problem, and part of the solution. I agree with Jay and strongly recommend The Underground History of American Education by Gatto if you have not already read it.

Again, thanks!

PS Are you related to the 'Anon' family that has provided an incredible stream of anecdotes, pithy sayings and notable quotes throughout history? I know I've seen your name before ...

Anonymous said...

i am doing a debate in school about how home schooling better can u give me any facts 2 see how other people feel bout this

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