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Educating the Herd, Essay Example

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From earliest childhood, I can remember my parents telling me how lucky I was to go to school in America.  Recieving a private, catholic school was a privlage I was not to forget.  Reading John Gatto`s “Against School” essay puts a new light on my education, and answers a lot of questions I had about school as well.  I agree wholeheartedly with Gattos`s take on the school system.  Everything about school conditioned me to be a good worker who would follow the herd.  Minding authority without thinking, forming lines, taking standardized test after standardized test, and the obligatory school uniforms were not meant to breed an independent thinker.  No, these things were to breed a good worker.

A poingent example of learning to mind authority without thinking came during a geography lecture during which the Sister made a false statement concerning plankton.  She told us that they were single celled organisms.  I raised my hand and pointed out that they were actually small animals, only some were single celled algae.  I was told I was wrong.  After class the sister called me up to her desk and told me I had detention for questioning her during the lecture.  I went home and checked on the internet and sure enough, I had been right.  I did not dare tell the sister my findings. I learned from that experience that if Sister said something was true, then it was true. In her class, plankton were single celled organisms.  The herd does not question what authority tells them.  It just regurgetates the lies for good grades on exams.

Boredom was a commom problem for me in school as well.  I would often find myself daydreaming in class. One day after a particulary long geometry lecture, which I had sat through staring out at the nice sunny day wishing I was out enjoying it, I realized I had no idea how to start calculating the answers to the problem set we had been given.  I went up to the Sister and asked for help.  She looked at me and laughed, and said, for the whole class to hear, that I was never going to make it in the world since I was such a silly daydreamer, so why should she bother explaining it to me anyway?  I turned bright red and sat down amongst the giggles of my peers.  It didn`t matter that once I applied myself to the problem I figured it out in no time.  It was not that I was unintellegent, i was just bored.

School teaches you to know your place.  I was involved with the drama club at my school.  I loved the theater and dreamed of being an actress one day.  Time after time I would audition for the schools plays, but time after time I was left out of the cast.  I would dutifully fulfill my duties as costume designer, or assistant director, but never got to be on stage.  Finally I decided to take some acting classes out side of school that my parents had agreed to.  I told Sister that I would not be able to fulfill my duties as costume desinger since I would be attending my acting classes during that time.  She told me, in front of the entire class, that I was an untalented wimp and that I would never be an actress.  It was quite and unsettling expereience for me, since I had really looked up to this Sister and her words had meant a great deal to me.

School sets out to raise a generation who will follow the herd mentality.  They want us all to dress alike, think alike, and believe everything authority tells us without thinking.  I have used these negative experiences regarding school to my advantage by becoming a knower.  A knower does not believe something is true just because someone with a suit says it is.  I research the issue, and verify the facts for myself.  I am trying my best to break out of the herd.

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