19 May 2009

John Taylor Gatto

I just finished reading John Taylor Gatto's newest book " Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher's Journey through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling". As usual, it was an excellent book that reiterated things I already knew as well as enlightened me about things I didn't. (If you'd like to read a summary, click on the link.)

He has written several other books, all of which I have read. Having been a public school teacher he offers a unique insight to the problems in our schools. I have my own issues with public school, mostly from my experiences in them or from tales I have heard told by others. It is enlightening to read the perspective of a man who not only attended public schools, but taught in them for 30 years as well. His
"Underground History of American Education" (which you can read online if you click the link) is just epic. It is a huge book which explains exactly how the public schools came to be the way they are. If I believed in such things, I would make it required reading by all Americans. As I don't believe anyone should be required to do anything, I strongly suggest everyone read it.

Here is something else interesting he wrote about what he "taught" as a teacher:

"The first lesson I teach is: "Stay in the class where you belong."
"The second lesson I teach kids is to turn on and off like a light switch."
"The third lesson I teach you is to surrender your will to a predestined chain of command."
"The fourth lesson I teach is that only I determine what curriculum you will study."
"In lesson five I teach that your self-respect should depend on an observer's measure of your worth."
"In lesson six I teach children that they are being watched."
"The seventh lesson I teach is that you can't hide."

Frightening isn't it? But think back to your own schooling (if you went to public school). Doesn't it apply?

I hope maybe I have inspired someone who has never read Gatto to look him up. And if you have read his books, definitely get his new one.

I leave you with some of my favorite quotes, (one of my favorites is in my sidebar).

"I've come to believe that genius is an exceedingly common human quality, probably natural to most of us... I began to wonder, reluctantly, whether it was possible that being in school itself was what was dumbing them down. Was it possible I had been hired not to enlarge children's power, but to diminish it? That seemed crazy on the face of it, but slowly I began to realize that the bells and the confinement, the crazy sequences, the age-segregation, the lack of privacy, the constant surveillance, and all the rest of national curriculum of schooling were designed exactly as if someone had set out to *prevent* children from learning how to think and act, to coax them into addiction and dependent behavior."

– John Taylor Gatto

"By preventing a free market in education, a handful of social engineers - backed by the industries that profit from compulsory schooling: teacher colleges, textbook publishers, materials suppliers, et al. - has ensured that most of our children will not have an education, even though they may be thoroughly schooled."

– John Taylor Gatto

"Children and old people are penned up and locked away from the business of the world to a degree without precedent: nobody talks to them anymore, and without children and old people mixing in daily life, a community has no future and no past, only a continous present.

~John Taylor Gatto

"Schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet. No one believes anymore that scientists are trained in science classes or politicians in civics classes or poets in English classes. The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders.

~John Taylor Gatto

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Everything he says rings true, to me.

Linda, an unschooling mom of one homeschooled teen and one teen who chose public school - but only after he had passed the age of compulsory attendance!