We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

John Gatto’s “Against School” Essay Sample

essay
The whole doc is available only for registered users OPEN DOC
  • Pages:
  • Word count: 1396
  • Category: School

Get Full Essay

Get access to this section to get all help you need with your essay and educational issues.

Get Access

John Gatto’s “Against School” Essay Sample

John Gatto’s “Against School” is a persuasive essay arguing both the ineffectiveness and negative outcomes of today’s public school system. Not only does Gatto provide credibility with his experience as a teacher, but he also presents historical evidence that suggests that the public school system is an outdated structure, originally meant to dumb down students as well as program them to be obedient pawns in society. Fact and authority alone do not supplement his argument. Gatto also uses emotional appeals, such as fear and doubt, to tear down the reader’s trust in the schooling system. Although it may seem to be so, Gatto’s argument is not one sided. He also offers suggestions to make the educational system more efficient at the hands of positive reinforcement and the employment of more motivated teachers. Through the effective application of ethos, logos, and pathos, John Gatto provides a well-rounded argument against the public school system that would cause any reader to question the goals of modern schooling.

The first thing that Gatto does is put ethos to play by establishing this credibility with the audience in a number of ways. Before stating any of his claims against school, he thoughtfully informs his readers of his experience in the educational field in order to add more weight to his words. Not only had Gatto been a teacher for thirty years, but he also was elected New York City Teacher of the Year three times during that period and published a plethora of books on the subject of education. Without having specified this at the very start of his argument, Gatto could have failed to captivate his audience the way he had intended. A lack of expertise, whether it is because that expertise does not exist or because it simply was not made clear, could potentially harm any argument.

This is especially the case when making marks against something like the educational system because a majority of the population is by default inclined to support such an entity simply because it is the same system we have all gone through. By giving the audience a reason to trust his word as a credulous source right off the bat, Gatto paved the way for his argument and ensures that the audience will take him seriously. Such an act is one of the most vital components to beginning an argument, and even more so when arguing against an integral part of today’s society. Gatto’s long list of accomplishments counts for more than enough in this case and he successfully uses ethos to his advantage, and rightfully so.

Through the effective use of ethos, Gatto readies his audience for reliable applications of logos through the educated opinions of others and historical evidence. Gatto’s use of logos is spread throughout his essay and makes up some of his most impelling and supportive claims against schooling, and while there are many examples that can be called upon, I would like to highlight a few of the more compelling instances. By referring to well-known pioneers of the past, Gatto makes it clear to his audience that schooling is by no means a necessary component of greatness: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln? Someone taught them, to be sure, but they were not products of a school system, and not one of them was ever “graduated” from a secondary school. Throughout most of American history, kids generally didn’t go to high school, yet the unschooled rose to be admirals, like Farragut; inventors, like Edison; captains of industry, like Carnegie and Rockefeller; writers, like Melville and Twain and Conrad; and even scholars, like Margaret Mead.

This point makes Gatto’s argument more relatable to the audience because it calls upon historical figures that we are all familiar with in one way or another; thus, giving the audience more inclination to side with Gatto because of the facts we already know about these innovators who received no formal education. Another example of logos, and probably one of the most shocking proofs that Gatto provides, is his overview of the Prussian education system in which our own system was derived from. Not only does he make the audience aware that there is a connection between Prussian and American schooling, but he also uses hints of pathos in justifying his claim by adding emotional appeals of fear to inspire a reaction: But what shocks is that we should so eagerly have adopted one of the very worst aspects of Prussian culture: an educational system deliberately designed to produce mediocre intellects, to hamstring the inner life, to deny students appreciable leadership skills, and to ensure docile and incomplete citizens – all in order to render the populace “manageable.”

The reason I have called upon the use of fear as an emotional appeal is because the above claims makes apparent to the audience a chilling comparison that many would probably wish to deny; however, historical evidence can’t be swept under the rug the same way opinions can, so in this sense, the facts speak for themselves. This particular argument that Gatto makes is one of his more intimidating, and by being so it seems as though logos and pathos are being tied together to make more viable arguments than those that rely on just one appeal.

Although Gatto calls upon pathos regularly throughout his essay, its use seems to be weaker than that of ethos and logos. Many persuasive arguments use pathos as their main appeal; however, in Gatto’s case, his use of logos makes his points more justified than the use of emotion and imagination, and for this reason it seems as though he often uses pathos only when coupled with logos. An example of this can be seen when Gatto refers to Inglis’ interpretation of the actual functions of schooling: Inglis breaks down the purpose – the actual purpose – of modem schooling into six basic functions, any one of which is enough to curl the hair of those innocent enough to believe the three traditional goals listed earlier. Gatto applies innocence to those who believe that the sole purposes of school are to make good people, good citizens, and to make each person his or her personal best. Being referred to as innocent can also be translated to being referred to as gullible, which may cause those people who have never questioned the motives of the educational system to feel offended, and in turn have a more emotional reaction to the material than others.

The emotion that was instilled throughout this essay was the notion of fear, or that we should be scared of how little we have cared to know about what it means to be educated verse what it means to be schooled. By making comments about a society that is programmed to act a certain way and consume at a certain rate, all made possibly by the way our educational system works is not something that is taken lightly. While these opinions are merely opinions, we cannot deny that these claims have a degree of truth to them: It is in the interest of complex management, economic or political, to dumb people down, to demoralize them, to divide them from one another, and to discard them if they don’t conform. Unable to comment on the emotions of others, the above statement made me feel fear. Fear of being dumbed down, demoralized, and to feel alienated from my peers by a system that has programmed me to feel as such. Fear is one of the most powerful of emotions, and is often the first emotion to inspire action. Gatto used fear to his advantage, and used concepts of control and power to make the reader feel emotions of fear when thinking about the purpose of public school.

While his use of pathos is the lesser of effectual appeals applied, when coupled with his use of logos and ethos, his argument comes off as solid and thorough. He uses a wide variety of strategies to inspire thought in the reader, and possibly even protest to a system that we’ve all grown so comfortable with. I believe that “Against School” is strong and would inspire more thought or research to those concerned about where society is headed, and might possibly even be powerful enough to influence a call to action.

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

The theory of “teaching to the test”

Standardized testing is one of the controversial subjects in any school, college, or household. They were created to determine a student’s intelligence, critical thinking, and problem solving skills. Do these standardized test scores truly asses and inform of us of the performance of a student? One argument of standardized tests is that they are fair and measure the ability of students, and they also make...

Racism - social issues

Racism is something we have all witnessed and perhaps experienced. In “The Kind of Light That Shines on Texas,” Reginald McKnight creates a storyline where the main character, Clint, is living in a predominately white culture and experiences discrimination among many of his white peers. They question him on his characteristics, such as his hair and why/how he combs it. As a result, Clint feels...

Honors classes in high school

High school is one of the most important parts of an average teen’s academic and social life in the United States. It is where many people find themselves, including discovering what they want, what they're good at, and sometimes even who they are and who they think they’re destined to be. High school can be considered a great experience, however, our high school years are...

List of School Policies

This assignment deals with displays in the school. It will first describe the school’s policy for displays 1.1 Describe the school policy for displays In my work placement the guidelines and procedures for putting together displays were given verbally since there isn\'t any written policy about the school displays. In verbal discussion it was explained that displays in school are the first impressions to parents, visitors, children...

Experience Changed My Life Forever

There are number of people who has prominently exchanged my life. I thank to my sister who rescued me from being an only child to siblinghood. My 4th grade teacher also had a huge impact on me because he motivated me to have a great passion for studying and working hard. But I must say, my mother has had the most significant influence on me...

Get Access To The Full Essay
icon
300+
Materials Daily
icon
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
icon
Free Plagiarism
Checker
icon
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access
immediately?

Become a member

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!

logo

Emma Taylor

online

Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Couldn't Find What You Looking For?

Get access to our huge knowledge base which is continuously updated

Next Update Will Be About:
14 : 59 : 59
Become a Member