I discovered John Taylor Gatto when I when I read the book Bomb The Suburbs as a teenager.
Gatto was a revolutionary educator and the author of an excellent history of modern schooling called Weapons of Mass Instruction.
He was the kind of life-changing teacher that transforms the lives of his students and empower them to realize their creative potential (I recommend watching Dead Poet’s Society for a good example of the power of a life-changing teacher).
He was named New York City Teacher of the Year in 1989, 1990, and 1991, and New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991.
Dumbing Us Down?
This is the essence of John Taylor Gatto’s argument against the predominant form of modern schooling in the United States and around the world:
1. It confuses the students. It presents an incoherent ensemble of information that the child needs to memorize to stay in school. Apart from the tests and trials, this programming is similar to the television; it fills almost all the “free” time of children. One sees and hears something, only to forget it again.
2. It teaches them to accept their class affiliation.
3. It makes them indifferent.
4. It makes them emotionally dependent.
5. It makes them intellectually dependent.
6. It teaches them a kind of self-confidence that requires constant confirmation by experts (provisional self-esteem).
7. It makes it clear to them that they cannot hide, because they are always supervised.
He also draws a contrast between communities and “networks,” with communities being healthy, and schools being examples of networks.
He argues that networks have become an unhealthy substitute for community in the United States.
The Ultimate History Lesson With John Taylor Gatto:
The Ultimate History Lesson with John Taylor Gatto is a 5-hour journey examining the history, root-causes, and consequences of public schooling.
In the film, he tells the fascinating history of schooling from ancient times and how modern education became stuck in the reductionist and mechanistic worldview of the European Enlightenment.
Gatto explores the intellectual origin of modern schooling in the highly authoritarian and militaristic state of 19th century Prussia and how the spread of this form of education throughout the world is creating a globalized consumer monoculture.