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Hannah Koch Jan Rieman English 1101X 7 April 2010 Taking My Education After reading “Take Back Your Education” by John Taylor Gatto, I wasn’t quite sure what I thought about what I had just read. I wasn’t sure if I agreed with Gatto, or if I disagreed. For class, we were asked to re-read and take notes about the article. After re-reading the article, I found that I felt both, agreement and disagreement towards Gatto’s argument. The first time I read this article my initial reaction was that Gatto was a weirdo and that he was just one of those people whose main goal in life was to bring the system down. The second time I read it, I found that I sort of understood what he is saying. Saying that, “Nobody gives you an education. If you want one, you have to take it.” makes sense to me. I feel like public schooling provides you with the tools to an education, but if you really want to receive an education worthwhile, you have to take it into your own hands and use the materials provided to maximize its worth. I also feel like standardized testing makes for an education that’s dumbed down and dull. I feel like public school’s education and curriculums are trying to fit so many students in one criterion that it’s suppressing students’ natural abilities and stifling the true creativeness of students as well. I feel that what Gatto did by collecting three strengths and weaknesses from his students and working with them to attain their goals that they wanted to achieve is something that we should do in every classroom. I find

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that school should be more about that kind of thing as well as providing us with an education that is useful to us in society. Even though I agree with some of the things that Gatto is saying in this article, I don’t agree with trying to throw the system. I don’t feel like our soul mission in life should be to throw a wrench in the gears of public education. I agree some changes need to be made about how the government chooses to educate our society, but I don’t feel like it needs to be overthrown completely. When I read the end of the article, I found it kind of weird that Gatto was so adamant about disrupting the system. I agree that there are many successful people in this world who didn’t go to college or didn’t even graduate from high school, but I also feel like not everybody could be as successful as those select few that were fortunate enough to succeed. I definitely do not believe that everyone that doesn’t go to school or is homeschooled is going to be the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, especially now. I feel as if those people had unique opportunities that not every single person without proper education is going to receive. I’ve met many people who didn’t go to college and are very successful, but they didn’t go to college many years ago. The emphasis and demand for an education for successful jobs wasn’t as prominent as it is today. Now a days, if you don’t graduate from high school, you can’t even work at McDonalds. Twenty or thirty years ago, if you didn’t graduate from high school, you could have gone to work as a bookkeeper for a company and work your way up to the top and eventually become the C.E.O. or something. It just doesn’t work like that anymore. Even though the public school system has kinks and flaws, that’s just the way it is and the way that people are forced to function. Yes, going to school for 20 years of your life isn’t fun, and I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have to, but the way that society is built solely on the value of a good education is just the way it is, and if you want to be successful, you need to get a good

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education. No, I don’t agree with it, and I feel like we should concentrate on things like Gatto does in his classroom, but that’s just not the way the system works. It will probably always work like it does now, so we just have to learn live with it. I know that Gatto and I aren’t the only people who disagree with the way the school system works, but there are other people that feel like I do. They know that the education system is not going to change anytime soon, and we just have to do what we need to do to be successful. At the same time, I feel like the term “successful” is different for everybody. For me to succeed, I need a good degree and a good job and a decent financial situation. For someone who doesn’t feel the same way about education might become successful if they drop out of school in the eighth grade and have a successful dairy farm. My point is here, is that successfulness is only what we make it for ourselves. Even though Gatto says that we shouldn’t wait until the government says it’s okay to overthrow your mundane education of algebra and adverbs, and that the water is fine, I feel like I will wait until the government says it’s okay. I’m the kind of person who just follows the rules, stupid or not, to just get through the day to finally be able to attain what they’ve been looking for. For me, what I’m looking for is a good, successful job. In order to obtain that, I have to get a good education that society says is okay. For now, society says that I have to go through the school system that teaches you fractions and how to diagram sentences, not how to work, and speak in front of people if we’re shy. Even though it doesn’t always make the most of sense, that’s just what I have to do to attain my dream. In the meantime, I can try to embrace my education and take advantage of some of the things that life hands me.

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Works Cited

Gatto, John T. "Take Back Your Education by John Taylor Gatto — YES! Magazine." YES! Magazine — Powerful Ideas, Practical Actions — YES! Magazine. 9 Sept. 2009. Web. 5 Apr. 2010. <http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/learn-as-you-go/take-back-your-education>.

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