Critical Analysis of Benjamin Barber's "America Skips School"

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About this sample


Words: 569 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 569|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraph
  3. Conclusion


In his provocative essay "America Skips School," Benjamin Barber delves into the chronic problems plaguing the American educational system. Originally published in the Harper's Magazine in 1993, Barber's essay remains a relevant critique of the inadequacies and systemic failures that persist in American education. His arguments extend beyond mere academic performance, questioning the very cultural and political fabric that influences educational policies. This essay aims to critically analyze Barber's main arguments, scrutinize his perspectives on the American educational system, and evaluate the broader implications of his critique.

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Body Paragraph

Barber begins his essay by highlighting the widespread apathy towards education in America. He notes that despite numerous reform efforts, the nation continues to produce graduates who are ill-prepared for the complexities of modern life. Barber argues that this is not merely a failure of the schools but a reflection of a society that does not genuinely value education. He points out that while other countries invest heavily in their educational systems, America's priorities lie elsewhere, such as in entertainment and consumer culture. This cultural indifference, Barber contends, is a significant barrier to meaningful educational reform.

One of Barber's key arguments is the lack of political will to address the root causes of educational failure. He criticizes politicians for their superficial approaches, such as standardized testing and short-term fixes, which do not address the deeper issues of inequality and lack of resources. Barber suggests that genuine reform requires a radical shift in national priorities, emphasizing the need for a more equitable distribution of resources and a commitment to long-term solutions. He also highlights the role of the media in perpetuating a superficial understanding of educational success, often focusing on sensational stories rather than substantive issues.

Barber's critique extends to the economic dimensions of education. He argues that the commercialization of education, through initiatives like charter schools and voucher programs, exacerbates inequalities rather than mitigating them. According to Barber, these market-based approaches treat education as a commodity rather than a public good, leading to a system where quality education is accessible only to those who can afford it. This commodification, Barber asserts, undermines the democratic ideals that should underpin public education, creating a divided society where education reinforces social stratification.

In addition to his critique of systemic issues, Barber also addresses the role of individual responsibility in educational success. He argues that while systemic reforms are essential, they must be accompanied by a cultural shift that values learning and intellectual engagement. Barber calls for a collective effort to foster an environment where education is seen as a lifelong pursuit, not just a means to an economic end. He emphasizes the importance of parental involvement, community support, and a broader societal commitment to nurturing intellectual curiosity and critical thinking.

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Benjamin Barber's "America Skips School" offers a compelling critique of the American educational system, highlighting the deep-seated cultural, political, and economic issues that hinder meaningful reform. His essay serves as a call to action, urging a fundamental reevaluation of national priorities and a collective commitment to valuing education as a public good. While Barber's analysis is undeniably critical, it also offers a vision of hope, suggesting that with the right political will and cultural shift, America can create an educational system that truly prepares its citizens for the challenges of the modern world. As we reflect on Barber's insights, it is crucial to consider how his arguments can inform current and future efforts to achieve educational equity and excellence.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Critical Analysis of Benjamin Barber’s “America Skips School”. (2024, Jun 07). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 24, 2024, from
“Critical Analysis of Benjamin Barber’s “America Skips School”.” GradesFixer, 07 Jun. 2024,
Critical Analysis of Benjamin Barber’s “America Skips School”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 Jul. 2024].
Critical Analysis of Benjamin Barber’s “America Skips School” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 07 [cited 2024 Jul 24]. Available from:
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