John Gatto’s Against School illustrates the numerous ills facing the school institution. He spent over 30 years in the education system and his experience, along with the research he has done, gives us insight into the hidden truth behind our schools. He addresses many problems affecting the school system: boredom, standardized tests, gargantuan high schools, and so-called expert opinions in education. Gatto claims that the school system is designed purposefully so that we are “useful in creating not only a harmless electorate and a servile labor force but also a virtual herd of mindless consumers.” In order to deliver his strong opinion, Gatto uses personal experience, expert opinion, exemplification, along with tone and style to reveal to the readers the hidden agenda of the school system.
From the beginning, Gatto builds his ethos in the area of education by providing a range of his past teaching experiences; this ensures the reader is aware of Gatto’s expertise and familiarity in the field of education. He talks about boredom first because many students and teachers can probably relate to it. If the students are bored and uninspired, then teachers will be more likely to lose their drive and motivation. Additionally, Gatto uses a personal story involving his grandfather to show how the institution is entrenched in the status quo of the school system in an attempt to make a connection with the reader as the reader may have had a similar experience. This shows school isn’t supposed to be fun; it’s supposed to be rigid in nature.
In another part of the essay, Gatto utilizes a publication from a prominent and respected satirist to reveal school’s true nature. H.L. Mencken was one of the most respected satirists of the early 20th century; aside from his fame and recognition, Mencken’s statement is a powerful argument in supporting Gatto’s opinions because no one stated it more bluntly than he...