Giving up on Schools?

In a recent comment, Elliot asked about John Taylor Gatto’s assertions that since schools were designed to produce a compliant, unthinking workforce, they can never be fixed and should, in the end, be abandoned.

I find much to admire in Gatto’s thinking (and in the thinking of many others who offer similar critiques of schooling from many different perspectives).

The question for me is what I do while awaiting the revolution. And the question for me is how I use the position of power I have to be part of deciding what is in best interests of other people’s kids.

Until the revolution happens, my work (and that of thousands of other educators) is to make schools better: slowly, persistently, tenaciously. Until the revolution happens and schools all close, I can work to get past the stereotyping of poor and working class folks as the passive dupes of the powerful. Until the revolution happens, we can stop the teacher bashing that blames relatively powerless women for the social ills that are manifest in schools and focus blame on the policy makers who won’t entertain ideas of basic equality in education. We can move off of this obsession with test scores and start talking about basic human rights to a basic education or basic health care so that kids can learn free of pain and illness.

I definitely think that people should read Gatto and think about what he says. I think, too, that people should be reading Mike Rose, and Deborah Meier, and Bill Ayers and Sonia Nieto, and Sarah Lawrence Lightfoot, and the thousands of other educators who attest to the power of schools — imagined differently — to change lives.

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