seven lessons of schoolteaching

I came across this article from my Google readers. This is an article by John Gatto, a veteran educator in the American public school system. While his remarks of the state-controlled schooling might seem too radical for most people, he does offer some very interesting angle to examine the seemingly justified school routines. It is also a reminding for us, the U.S. biased country both in culture and English education, better start examining how much we actually know about the so called “western education”?

Gatto’s reflection of the U.S. public school education may seem rather bias especially for those who work in the system, however, his article of seven lessons of schoolteaching does portrait the dark side of the routines in every school day. This is a delicate system that most teachers are so good at managing that they probably have never consider what we are SELLING to the kids with all the rules we make?

According to Gatto, the seven lessons of schoolteaching are confusion, class position, indifference, emotional and intellectual dependency, conditional self-esteem and constant surveillance. He suggests that the public education, to some extent, has “shaken loose from its own original logic: to regulate the poor”. This reminds me the struggles I have for the past few years in teaching. I often have the feeling of “not knowing to whom I serve”. While those who do well in the class have continuing external sources of English learning, I don’t feel like I’m contributing much to their learning. For those who do poorly in the class, the either silent or disruptive mob, I have limited time to pull them up from the bottom.

I’m still a newbie in the English teaching profession, but the reality I witness in the campus often makes me wonder, if I become a mum one day, would I have the confidence in English education in public schools?

A friend of mine emailed me a minute of the English counseling group with the visited school. The English teacher reflects the heavy weekly hours of teaching during the meeting and hoping the problem can be seriously considered. Well, guess what, the counseling group (note: they are teachers just like you and me) answered: “So it is very important for English teachers to keep healthy and cheerful.”

What kind of B*S it is?

Some interesting point of views of John Gatto-

They [the children] must turn on and off like a light switch.

Bells are the secret logic of schooltime; their logic is inexorable. Bells destroy the past and future, converting every interval into a sameness, as the abstraction of a map renders every living mountain and river the same, even though they are not. Bells inoculate each undertaking with indifference.

Individuality is a contradiction of class theory, a curse to all systems of classification.

Good people wait for a teacher to tell them what to do. [Sounds scary, isn’t it? But I guess that’s the one of the necessarily evil in the school education]

School is an artifice which makes such a pyramidical social order seem inevitable, although such a premise is a fundamental betrayal of the American Revolution.

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