January 16, 2017
John Taylor Gatto is an award winning teacher and recipient of the New York State Teacher Of The Year Award with over 30 years experience within the public school system. Many of the lessons he’s learned are expounded upon at length in his books, which continue to gain popularity with every passing year.
For me, A Different Kind Of Teacher follows a reading of Gatto’s book Dumbing Us Down – The Hidden Curriculum Of Compulsory Schooling. In it Gatto did a phenomenal job of outlining many of the most insidious issues taking place with the current public school system. The precision and pull-no-punches approach of Gatto’s work is what made Dumbing Us Down so notable, especially considering that he most pulled no punches when he stated that the main agenda of the public school system is to indoctrinate individuals how to follow orders so they can become unthinking cogs in the machine.
A snippet of some of Gatto’s most important points in Dumbing Us Down are:
“…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.”
“Schools are intended to produce, through the application of formulas, formulaic human beings whose behavior can be predicted and controlled.”
“It is absurd and anti-life to be part of the system that compels you to sit in confinement with people of exactly the same age and social class. That system effectively cuts you off from the immense diversity of life and the synergy of variety; indeed it cuts you off from your own past and future, sealing you in a continuous present much the same way television does.”
Scathing remarks such as the above leave no doubt Gatto’s quest for individuals is that of true education, and not the facsimile of it as we’ve been sold over time.
With that said, his other phenomenal book, A Different Kind Of Teacher – Solving The Crisis Of American Schooling by John Taylor Gato is a fierce examination into not only public schooling and its many inherent flaws, but also what type of steps are required to be carried out by individuals in order to transcend the current bankrupt/corrupt system from its current miserable state and into a more robust, grounded and resonant system that doesn’t sell out to corporate/government interests.
One intricate notion Gatto explores regards education in the past, which was considerably different than what it is now. For instance, in Colonial America literacy rates were exceedingly high with no compulsory schooling whatsoever. The same cannot be said of now. In fact, one theme that Gatto convincingly explores is the damage inflicted on the human psyche through the many years of compulsory schooling.
When the reader reflects on how such actions instill the conditioning of the mind, and force it not to think but simply accept what it’s told, one arrives at the understanding of how a large part of society in this country continue to willingly accept the idea of public schools as a good thing
Thankfully, not everyone is following that pattern. With more and more families continuing to homeschool their children, and individuals seeking to become autodidacts, considerable change is taking place at the grassroots level.
And much of that change is taking place in large part by individuals such as John Taylor Gatto, who are relentless in not only mincing no words in calling the system for what it is, but also by offering solutions to individuals seeking such.
Regardless, each of one of us are inherently responsible for our own continuing education. When we pass that responsibility to the state, such as John Taylor Gatto has showed, we come to terms with the desolate fact of the education system’s cataclysmic decline.
The only way to stop such a system from continuing in tsunami-like fashion sweeping over everyone and everything is at the grass roots level, at the local level.
If we don’t, the country our forefathers conquered will be a ghost of the past, barely a facsimile of its former self, and the future will prove to be even murkier than now.
As Gatto elucidates:
“Figure out what matters. Do it yourself; work hard at it; no one else can do it for you. Relying on others in this regard or ignoring the necessity will ruin you thought you sit surrounded by machines in a rich school watching videos of spaceships. Each of us has a design problem to solve: to create from the raw material around us the curriculum for a good life. It isn’t easy and it isn’t the same for any two people. If you think you can buy it, look around you at the shambles my own generation has made of communal life and family life by trying to buy it or fashion it with machinery.”
 John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down – The Hidden Curriculum Of Compulsory Schooling, pg. 21.
 Ibid., pg. 23.
 Ibid., pg. 24.
 John Taylor Gatto, A Different Kind Of Teacher, pg. 208.