Copyright © Living with Confidence
Design by Dzignine
Monday, December 9, 2013

Introduction to John Gatto

As a professional in the field of education, I was surprised that I am only just now learning about John Gatto.

John Gatto challenges our public school system in the best of ways.  He has a unique voice and some pretty 'radical' ideas. I believe his ideas are important for educated and active parents to meditate on, whether they agree entirely with those ideas or not.  

John Gatto came to public attention when The Wall Street Journal published his short resignation letter entitled, "I Quit, I Think."  After having taught for 30 years and received 'Teacher of the Year' for a third time, John Gatto was resigning from his position with disgust for his profession. 

Here is an excerpt from his letter.  Full version found HERE

David learns to read at age four; Rachel, at age nine: In normal development, when both are 13, you can’t tell which one learned first—the five-year spread means nothing at all. But in school I label Rachel "learning disabled" and slow David down a bit, too. For a paycheck, I adjust David to depend on me to tell him when to go and stop. He won’t outgrow that dependency. I identify Rachel as discount merchandise, "special education" fodder. She’ll be locked in her place forever.
In 30 years of teaching kids rich and poor I almost never met a learning disabled child; hardly ever met a gifted and talented one either. Like all school categories, these are sacred myths, created by human imagination. They derive from questionable values we never examine because they preserve the temple of schooling.

That’s the secret behind short-answer tests, bells, uniform time blocks, age grading, standardization, and all the rest of the school religion punishing our nation. There isn’t a right way to become educated; there are as many ways as fingerprints. We don’t need state-certified teachers to make education happen—that probably guarantees it won’t.

How much more evidence is necessary? Good schools don’t need more money or a longer year; they need real free-market choices, variety that speaks to every need and runs risks. We don’t need a national curriculum or national testing either. Both initiatives arise from ignorance of how people learn or deliberate indifference to it. I can’t teach this way any longer. If you hear of a job where I don’t have to hurt kids to make a living, let me know. Come fall I’ll be looking for work.

Oscar and I have started reading The Underground History of American Education online, for free.  It is verbose and a bit repetitive.  I'm not a fan of the writing style, but I am very much so of the ideas.  I am interested in learning more about the strategies he used as a teacher.

He is most famous for his book Dumbing us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. 

The book that I am looking into reading is entitled, A Different Kind of Teacher: Solving the Crisis of American Schooling.  At least by title, it seems the most interesting to me.


Post a Comment