J. Gatto and B. Mellix on School Education


Education is the part of life which all people care greatly. People do all they can to receive the best education. People’s education is the main consideration of schools and teachers who work at those schools. The question is raised by some scholars, why people need schools. What profit may child get from school? The tendency is seen in home education. Is it really better to teach children at home? What do teachers think about home education?

Modern world is too busy and there is a lot of information which people should possess. Students are overburdened at schools as teachers try to give them more and more information which could be useful in future. But do students really need this information? Who decides what is necessary in education and what is not? What role does school play in curriculum comprising?

Main Body

The articles by John Talor Gatto “Against School” and Barbara Mellix “From Outside, In” dwell upon education, its importance and the role of schools in it. The article by John Talor Gatto concentrates its attention on the useless of school establishments in education, on the fact that people may get much better education beyond school. Barbara Mellix is not so strict in her attitude to schools but emphasizes the fact that to get a good amount of knowledge is possible without school attendance.

Barbara Mellix in “From Outside, In” share her life experience about living in ethnical region and being taught “black English”. Teachers at her school taught her language which was not academic, which comprised lots of mistakes if to correlate it with Standard English. John Talor Gatto is more strict and flat about school education. His point of view is that school makes students bored. School education is constructed in such a way that students are fighting for their grades, without caring much about knowledge.

John Talor Gatto gives the examples of people who never attended secondary schools, but managed to gain success, that is George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln. These people were educated, but it was not secondary school that gave them knowledge. (Gatto 2001).

The idea about knowledge possession even without school is also seen in Barbara Mellix’s “From Outside, In”, when she uses the Frantz Fanon’s words, “To speak means to be in a position to use a certain syntax, to grasp the morphology of this or that language, but it means above all to assume a culture, to support the weight of a civilization” (Mellix 1987). The quotation tells nothing about school. The idea is that to possess some knowledge people should just be aware of certain knowledge and not to attend certain establishment. Her idea is common with Gatto’s one about the vainness of school establishments. Barbara Mellix studied Standard English through reading and writing. The experience of other people in writing was her main teachers.

John Talor Gatto puts under the question not the education in itself, but the necessity of “six classes a day, five days a week, nine months a year, for twelve years” (Gatto 2001). He emphasizes that there is no importance to go to school, to study subjects which are of no importance. John Talor Gatto and Barbara Mellix try to give the idea that it is possible to get education at home, that this home education will be better and not so limited to curriculum which was composed without students’ desires and abilities.

Barbara Mellix is a perfect example of how to manage good results by home education. Her article is her life story. She was taught “black English” and her surrounding used it and only great desire and very hard self work to be educated correctly helped her to reach her aim. Mellix’s article is the example of the wrong education in general, the system had given a mistake and person’s future was under the threat.

The general idea of the John Talor Gatto’s article may be reduced to one quote, “the aim of public education is not to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. The aim… is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality” (Gatto 2001).

Looking on the curriculum in secondary schools, we may see that the Department of Education has chosen the subjects which may be useful for all students. What shall we do if may not? It comes out that people have spent twelve years studying subjects which are of no importance for them. They have spared their time on something useless. We shall not forget that we are talking about secondary education, where general subjects are studied.

At the same time, the above quotation may be opposed by the statement that secondary education is very important. Students are taught the base, which helps them to clarify their position in the future life. How can students choose future occupation without being aware about the items which can be chosen? It is not enough just to tell that there are such fields of knowledge as mathematics, chemistry, physics, language, economy and others. Students should feel this or that subject, should practice it, and only in this case they will be sure that the choice, they have made, is correct. The main aim of secondary school is to systemize whole amount of knowledge into one simple system, one simple schedule which gives the opportunity to get the general information and to use it in future life.


The both articles have one and the same aim – to show people that their education depends only on them. Neither school system, nor other side factor is able to make students study. Education is very important, but people should decide for themselves, whether to follow the scheme which was created by the department of Education or to follow his/her own way, giving emphases on their own abilities.

Gatto and Mellix both insist that it is possible to receive education without school attendance. Their opinion is confirmed by personal experience: Gatto is working as a teacher and knows that students care only about their grades, not marks, and Mellix taught Standard English herself and knows that it is possible.

In sum, modern system of education is not perfect. Students are given a lot of knowledge which may be not so important in their future. Overloading of education is the main problem of modern system of education. Students’ aim in secondary schools became confused and spoiled. The main goal, which they follow, is to gain the higher grade in class, not level of knowledge. That constant fight for marks is the main desire for modern students. The knowledge has been reduced into the background. Modern system of education has maintained such conditions, and students of secondary schools had just to get accustomed to those conditions.

Works Cited

Mellix, Barbara. “From Outside, In”. 1987.

Gatto, John Talor. “Against School”. 2001.

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