Wednesday, April 1, 2009

John Taylor Gatto on Education

This blog isn't just bananas, sorcerors & lost raps! Nossir. One of my personal heroes is John Taylor Gatto. A former public school teacher who butted up against the system & proceeded to tear it a new one.

John Taylor Gatto - State Controlled Consciousness

John Taylor Gatto - Schooling Is Not Education Pt. 1

John Taylor Gatto on the Alex Jones Show


alchemyjen said...

Gatto has a lot of good points and thankfully he's lucid and doesn't ramble too much. I argue that teachers, the "pedagogs" always get fired if they stir things up. I don't see that happening at all. Being progressive and figuring out how to balance the state requirements with real learning is the focus in modern education.

I have taken inspiration from other previous teachers now writers, Herbert Kohl and Jonathan Kozol especially. I'll never forget reading in Kohl's "I Won't Learn From You" about the idea of being subversive. He went all over the country and talked to good teachers and asked them how they did what they did. Most had figured out how to give their principals what they wanted to hear, but they taught the way that was best for the kids. They just shined on the rules and did it the way they knew it should be done. I'm testing my students next week. We've barely talked about it, and we've been studying butterflies, gardening, William Steig (talk about subversive, that guy was so fantastic) times tables and how to be a decent human being. Only a teeny bit of this is prescribed to me. My administrator's style is part of that freedom and my ability to explain my rationale for teaching the way I do as well as talking about research and experience that backs me up.

So, in a long winded way I'm saying that Gatto took the easy way out. Shake the shit up while on the INSIDE is what I think.


I understand your defensiveness Jen. But, he does his own thing. I think he's right, but i don't think that means that other people are wrong. Some people need to operate in the system, others need to work against it, other people need to create new systems, all simultaneously. Systems don't last. People have different roles, which i think is Gatto's central argument, that compulsory education in the current model is a one-size fits all model, which goes against the manic diversity of human existence. It'd be one thing if that system wasn't mandatory & being paid for by our tax dollars, but as it is, it's tyrannical. As Gatto is a libertarian, he can't be for mandatory public education. It doesn't fit into his world view. Also, as far as easy way out goes, he taught for 29 years & was teacher of the year in NY state 3 times, that sounds like a full career in education. To then actively work for reform in his chosen field doesn't seem escapist to me at all. Seems like he did what he should have done based on his convictions. Can't argue with that. I don't think it devalues what you do either. Hopefully your students will look back fondly that you have been able to use the medium of public education to bring some sort of meaning & value to their lives.