In “Against School

In “Against School: How Public Education Cripples our Kids and Why,” John Taylor Gatto uses Aristotelian appeals of logos, ethos, and pathos to convince his readers of the “true” purpose of compulsory schooling. To support his claims, he gives credible sources from historical figures and relates schools to Prussia, a military state. His comparisons of the education system being like a Prussian prison or a factory would trigger readers’ emotions which causes/leads them to question the current system and what they are really trying to teach their students. The usage of his own background/ way he uses his background and of others’ statuses help him establish the main arguments used to appeal to the audience. By giving past experiences as a child and as a teacher, he establishes his credibility and describes how boredom in the education system is the main problem that has caused us to become a “nation of children.” He claims that schools are just “factories in which the raw products (children) are to be shaped and fashioned…And it is the business of the school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down” (Gatto par. 17). He does not believe that schools are doing a good job of achieving their goal of awakening a child’s knowledge.

Right at the start of the essay, his credibility is shown through his statement, “I taught for thirty years in some of the worst schools in Manhattan, and in some of the best, and during that time I became an expert of boredom” (Gatto par. 1). By opening his essay with that statement, readers are immediately able to learn of the author’s experience in the education and form a sense of trust in the words Gatto are using to validate his points. Knowing about his thirty years of experience allows the readers to know that he is not some inexperienced person who is simply just stating their opinions on what they think schools are like from an outside point of view.

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