John Gatto is a New York City seventh grade teacher with remarkable accolades. Because of his impressive accolades as a teacher and citizen, his words are not taken lightly. As a result of his spotlight, he has come up with a list of seven lessons that no syllabus will ever include, but Gatto insists that they form the core of our educational curriculum today. While he does not agree with the lessons himself, they are being taught nationwide and he insists “that schools have traded their educational function for one of social coordination”(Gatto 1).
First, Mr. Gatto explains that he teaches confusion. That is, he teaches the idea of un-relating everything and making disconnections or teaching too much all at one time. He states “educators persist in the idea that it is better to leave school with a tool kit of superficial jargon derived from economics, sociology, math, sociology, and natural science, rather than one genuine enthusiasm”(Gatto 2). Rather than studying one or two genuine passions, students are trained to attempt to learn them all even if they don’t care for the subject. Next, Mr. Gatto teaches the lesson of class position. Rather than attempting to move up or down to an easier or harder class, the student must learn that they are in that class for a reason and they must like that position. Gatto explains that, “[his] job is to make students like being locked together with children who bear numbers like their own”(1).
He claims that he never lies to students outright, but has come to learn that truth and teaching are incompatible. The third lesson taught is indifference. Instead of caring about anything too much, Gatto emphasizes that “nothing important is ever finished in my class”(Gatto 2). Students are taught that nothing really matters. Students in his class must drop everything they are doing once the bell rings, no matter the importance. Pupils live life on the installment plan and must learn to turn on and off like switches. The fourth and fifth lessons taught are emotional and intellectual dependency. Instead of thinking and acting on their own, students are drilled to believe that what they think and do is up to the teacher.
The one in charge must first OK simple tasks like going to the bathroom or speaking in class. In addition, they learn that good people let experts tell them what to do. The sixth lesson is provisional self-esteem or the idea that people “must be told what they are worth”(2). If not, they will rebel against the system and cause utter chaos. Finally, it is taught that you cannot hide. He asserts that “students are encouraged to tattle on each other” (Gatto 3). Wherever you go there is a big brother watching you and you are never completely alone. Without it, children would learn unauthorized ways. These seven lessons are being taught to the majority of students across The United States of America.
While some teachers, such as John Gatto, do acknowledge the fact that the system is flawed, the vast majority do not. Gatto argues that this national curriculum “produces physical, moral, and intellectual paralysis” (Gatto 4). Instead of instructing how to use your brain to it’s full potential and think critically, our system ensure that children will never grow up fully human. This system is certainly flawed and may seem impossible to recreate, but with enough backing and support a change can be made to restore the educational system. Works Cited
Gatto, John T. “A Few Lessons They Won’t Forget.” The Sun May 1991: 1-5. Print.
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