John Taylor Gatto

John Taylor Gatto, a rebel against institutionalized education (Factory Schooling).

Was a NYC public school teacher in Harlem for 30 years. Pissed off lots of people until they illegally fired him. He fought and got his position back. Two years later was made NYC Teacher of the Year, then later New York State Teacher of the Year. Shortly thereafter he quit.

Says the stats on Class Size are wrong because they are calculated based on who's supposed to attend, rather than who actual does. (Truancy)

He seems to be in favor of

The Guerrilla Curriculum: How to Get An Education In Spite of School - 1. An educated person writes his own script through life, he is not a character in a government or corporation play, nor does he mouth the words of any intellectual's Utopian fantasy. (12 rules total)

Author of An Underground History Of American Education ISBN:0945700040, which seems a bit nutty, cranky, paranoid at times.

It doesn't talk too much about his own teaching style, but he seemed to make a lot of use of (a) independent projects driven by students' own Passions (which didn't have to have an academic flavor at all), and (b) individualized time to cover the basics of academics.

Chris O Donnell has a whole blog category going through the book a chapter at a time...

From "A Year with John Taylor Gatto" by Jamaal Watson...

The way Mr. Gatto likes the Lab School to work is that every kid gets six different kinds of experience. First and most important is Independent Study, a day (each week) out of the school building alone or with a friend, going anywhere we want to go and studying anything we want to study...

The second kind of experience is ApprenticeShip-s... What you learn in an apprenticeship is how someone thinks when they are doing their work, how they make decisions, what they look out for.

The third kind of experience is Community Service. We spend one full day a week helping others, not being a parasite - for a change...

Notice there are only two days left of the school week?!

Some days we're teamed up with our own parents or somebody else's to do Family Teamwork Curriculum. Maybe I'd spend a day on my father's job, or plant flowerpots with my mother... The idea is to recognize that your family is the most important thing you'll ever be a part of. (The Family)

The last kind of experience is "class" work. Mr. Gatto hates the idea we are numbered, graded and locked up with people our same age, and he hates the idea we have to move like laboratory rats when the bell rings.

But because we have to be there, what he does with the Class Room time is to give us practice exercises in thinking (Critical Thinking).

In "We Can't Afford School Reform" he connects institutionalized schooling with Consumerism...

Think of the economic tragedy that would occur if schools taught Critical Thinking. If they encouraged individuals to be strong and to think original thoughts. If they taught the philospher's secret that nothing important can be bought. If they honored the universal human need for choice and privacy. If they nourished a love of quality. Who would crave the mountains of junk our Mass Production economy distributes? Who would eat the Processed Food? Who would wear the plastic shoes? Who would fill evenings with televised (TV) fantasies in place of living? How could the Mass Economy survive without the training "schools" provide? (Teenage Society; cf Product Team)

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