The difference between schooling and education…as relevant today as 18 years ago

I don’t know how many of you are John Taylor Gatto fans.   His work fascinates and disturbs me.  I was re-reading his “Why Schools Don’t Educate” speech from 1990, and just wanted to share this quote for your consideration.  It causes me to re-evaluate the difference between schooling and education, and to carefully consider which I’m providing for my children.


I don’t think we’ll get rid of schools anytime soon, certainly not in my lifetime, but if we’re going to change what is rapidly becoming a disaster of ignorance, we need to realize that the school institution “schools” very well, but it does not “educate” – that’s inherent in the design of the thing. It’s not the fault of bad teachers or too little money spent, it’s just impossible for education and schooling ever to be the same thing.

Schools were designed by Horace Mann and Barnard Sears and Harper of the University of Chicago and Thorndyke of Columbia Teachers College and some other men to be instruments of the scientific management of a mass population. Schools are intended to produce through the application of formulae, formulaic human beings whose behavior can be predicted and controlled.


7 thoughts on “The difference between schooling and education…as relevant today as 18 years ago

  1. Yes. Very disturbing. I have not graded anything except math in our homeschool. My children redo their work until we have mastery. Now that we are ‘doing’ high school, I have to have a grading system. This so goes against my original desires for our Homeschool!!!!

    Basically (to me), an “A” means you think the way the teachers wants you to, you have jumped through the right hoop. The person that conforms the most, gets the best grade.

    I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on this topic.
    🙂 RJ

  2. Very briefly…in my opinion, schooling is the process of going to school, sitting in the room, and figuring out how the system works. Schooling is sitting in your desk, raising your hand, and standing in line. It’s doing what you’re asked to do. Schooling is passive and encourages dependence.
    Education is engaging in ideas. It’s firing the curiosity, asking questions about what interests you, reading books that inspire you, participating in the world around you. Education encourages independent thinking. Educated people become leaders because they notice, they think, they connect dots, they solve problems. Yes, that can happen in school, but it doesn’t always. They are two separate processes.

  3. in my opinion, iwould like to think that education is the possibility of pursuing a carreer in life while on the othe hand schooling is an aspect of belonging to a particalar institution having a specified curriculum to follow within the socity.

  4. Schooling is a venue of information and routine; a concept similar to a soda; you don’t but it, you rent it. Education on the other hand, is the ownership of opportunity, choices and dreams.

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