this guy might get someone riled up but please be nice

A Schoolteacher's Intimate Investigation Into the Problem of Modern Schooling, by John Taylor Gatto


this post will hopefully prove i’m not fully obsessed with all things food, wine, chocolate, and pigs.  i know my boys are quite young but their education has started even now.  so what do we do about formal schooling?  at this point, books, books and more books.  on my part, at least.  i’m not sure how much help snuggle puppy will contribute to the education conversation…elisha might disagree.  i have taken it upon myself to read up on all sorts of methods of education:  public, private (from waldorf to reggio emilia to christian, etc.), and homeschooling.  and any other variations i happen upon along the way.  
a good friend, rebekah, recommended this book to me so i picked it up.  i’ve read a bit of john taylor gatto before and am a bit familiar with some unschooling ideas, but i’m attempting to get a better grasp of his stance on education.  all this to say, i know i’m in for a good ride when the prologue makes my head spin and quotes like this pop out at me from every other line:

you aren’t compelled to loan your car to anyone who wants it, but you are compelled to surrender your school-age child to strangers who process children for a livelihood…

i want to open up concealed aspects of modern schooling such as the deterioration it forces in the morality of parenting.  you have no say at all in choosing your teachers.  you know nothing about their backgrounds or families. and the state knows little more than you do.  this is as radical a piece of social engineering as the human imagination can conceive.  what does it mean?

before you hire a company to build a home you would, i expect, insist on detailed plans showing what the finished structure was going to look like.  building a child’s mind and character is what public schools do, their justification for prematurely breaking family and neighborhood learning.  where is documentary evidence to prove this assumption that trained and certified professionals do it better than people who know and love them can?  there isn’t any. 

thought provoking at the very least.  i’m only on the prologue so don’t expect any profound conclusions.  i’ll get back to you on this book and the others that cross my path.  now snuggle puppy, on the other hand, yes, i have finished it. profound conclusions?  not so much. 

8 thoughts on “this guy might get someone riled up but please be nice

  1. Wow, I just hit send on an email to a friend right before seeing your post (great quotes!). My email included this paragraph:

    I am seriously considering the homeschooling co-op thing I told you about. Researching the ins and outs on this is one of my ongoing projects. I know you all think I’m crazy, I think I might be crazy too. But if it worked, it would just be so cool! It’s exciting to think of all the things we could teach him and have such a say in what he learns and how he learns and at what pace.

  2. if you’re interested in recommendations, here’s one that was really thought-provoking & ended up being one of the main catalysts for starting to homeschool my kids. i think the introduction (“our story” type of introduction) would be interesting to any reader.

    The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, By S. Wise Bauer, Jessie Wise.

  3. While I haven’t read the above book, ( so may-be I’m unqualified to comment) I have educated my children for the past 14 years. Ah, she’s a home schooler you may say. Well, yes and no. I have one in public university, one in public high school, two in home school, and one in Christian school. This is the thing; each one has it’s positives and negatives. I assumed from the beginning that I would always home school and the thought of public school was almost a sin. But you know what? Sometimes it just works. I have come to the conclusion that your relationship with your children is even more important than where they are educated. The pastor of our church has three of the most wonderful grown children I know. Guess what? They were totally educated in the public school system (gasp!). I think it was what went on at home that made this happen, even though they weren’t at home all day every day. Is this the answer for everyone? No. I have come also to believe that if someone claims any other form of education than the one they espouse is inferior, they are probably a bit alarmist. So may-be the years have mellowed me too much, but a good dose of reality isn’t always bad! Wew! That was a little more of an epistle than I intended. Next thing I’ll be accused of having a bee in my bonnet!

  4. i agree, rose, this guy is on one side of the “extreme spectrum.” the only reason i’m willing to read someone like him so thoroughly, though, is that he was a public high school teacher in new york city for 30 years. very interesting. omar and i see ourselves being open to whatever schooling fits each of our children. similar to you, i suppose.
    thanks for the comments!

  5. Sweet quotes, Kate. I started reading Gatto 5 years ago when he published Against School in Harpers. He blasts the Prussianization of US public education, a system designed to render the populace “manageable.” Firey!

    Waldorf’s worked great for us so far. It’s relevant and sensuous and gentle and a little bit crazy, which is very attractive to me.

    “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” – Yeats

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