How amazing that Crystal and other teachers seem unaware of the story of John Taylor Gatto. After all, the education of our children is a foundation of our society and when an experienced teacher who was named ‘New York City’s Teacher of the Year’ (the 2nd year in a row) in 1990 used his acceptance speech to resign in protest at how bad the system is,
SHOULDN’T WE BE LISTENING TO WHAT HE HAD TO SAY?
We think so, and here is a transcript of the speech, courtesy of the wonderfully named Natural Child Project http://www.naturalchild.org/guest/john_gatto.html
Here is one quote, and remember he is a very experienced teacher accepting an award for being such:
“The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders. This is a great mystery to me because thousands of humane, caring people work in schools as teachers and aides and administrators, but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions.”
Mr Gatto has written lots of books about the problems with the American education system. Titles such as ‘Dumbing Us Down’ and ‘Weapons of Mass Instruction,’ are apt descriptions of a system that he shows, with very detailed research, was deliberately and rationally designed to create manageable workers and consumers.
Of course, most people who excel in this environment don’t find out about this large body of research because they are too busy being manageable workers and consumers.
As Tania Aebi, the first female sailor to circumnavigate the world and author of ‘Maiden Voyage’ says,
“…whenever I do read a newspaper, listen to the radio, or watch television, I find myself wondering, “How? How can this happen? How can people be so gullible? Gatto has an answer and it is disturbing as well as compelling: 20th century US education.”
As a parent of four teenagers in the Australian school system, who retired early and was closely involved with their education, assignments and so on; David was quite shocked at how counterintuitive most of what they learned was. How utterly bored and uninspired they were.
David was academically successful simply because he had the capacity to memorize what he was told and regurgitate it back in exams; and was able to graduate with three University degrees pretty much the same way. However, he has since met many brilliant talented people who were classed as ‘stupid’ by the system because their talents didn’t exactly fit the ‘one size fits all’ system.
No wonder Crystal told Bradley that to her:
“It makes great sense to put more emphasis on the growth and evolution of the individual.”
More on ‘Weapons of Mass Distraction’ below, but now, here is something that excites us immensely. The premise of this book is that our youth are different and should be empowered to voice their ideas, because they see things differently.
Dane even wrote in his Rap song:
“The younger Generation has to Unite;
Because the older generation just can’t get it right!”
It was so great to learn about DavePBrown, who embodies this with his incredibly articulate views on Education, firstly in his cool Rap Song,
and secondly, in the way he dealt with the Comments. He was actually saying fix school rather than stop going to it, so hello all the critics, he is actually trying to improve our education system, which by the way he actually excelled in, despite the haters assuming he failed, just because he has long hair and raps.
For example – Comment “Just calm down and don’t take it too seriously.”
Dave’s response “Yeah its only wasting years of time from every educated human on the planet, no big deal.”
Comment “This is useless rhetoric.”
Dave’s response “Here is an example of a sentence that perfectly describes itself.”
Dave’s eloquent assessment of, and response to, those for and against his views should be an example to the politicians doing their best to destroy our world. He should be compulsory viewing in congress.
We agree with Dave that people should suggest topics and the focus should be on those considered most useful in in demand.
We love DavePBrown! Check out this clip and you’ll be impressed.
Ok, back to ‘Weapons of Mass’ Instruction also includes:
- a chilling overview of the history of the deliberate creation of this system;
- a great summary of many success stories of people who were not formally educated but did a lot of real life learning through travel and other experiences; and
- the gradual centralization of American schooling by replacing smaller local governing bodies with larger bureaucratic units; and even the fact that book wholesalers charge less discount to teachers than individuals.
Interestingly for our overall recommendation about returning to the ground up inclusive systems of Nature rather than the Top-Down systems we now have, the centralization of American education was said to be justified to achieve cost savings but it actually resulted in cost increases.
Mr. Gatto actually likened the system to one that conditioned the Eloi in H.G. Wells famous Novel ‘The Time Machine,’ into amiable automotants, living the good life provided by the morlocks……. until it was there turn to be eaten!
Mr Gatto quotes William Torrey Harris, US Commissioner of Education from 1889 to 1906:
“The tool to build such a society [as they wanted] was psychological alienation”, said Harris.
“To alienate children from themselves so they could no longer turn inward for strength, to alienate them from families, traditions, religions, cultures – so no outside source of advice could contradict the will of the political state.”
Given that things are not working, what we need now is people who see things differently, who see the need for change and can innovate for a better.
Do we want our children bored, their creativity stifled by a one size fits all system?
Surely not, after all, we are going to need their unique brilliance to fix the mess my generation has made with our world.
Incidentally, a conditioned response to these words would be that we need strict rules to stop anarchy. Mr. Gatto deals with that as well.
One great example is paraphrased from ‘The Future of the Internet’, by Jonathan Zittrain
“The Dutch city of Drachten did away with traffic signs, parking meters, and even parking spaces as part of a program called “verkeersbordvrij.” The results have been pleasantly shocking: Traffic safety has improved dramatically. Under circumstances where they are drawn into leadership roles, people take it upon themselves to look out for their own and others’ best interest, even in the absence of rules and enforcement.”
John Taylor Gatto, we at ‘It’s Our Earth Too’ salute you and we hope that millions of people buy and read your excellent books.
Happily, more and more kids are being home schooled, or schooled in alternative institutions, and more and more people who are experienced with education and support the current system are recommending subjects such as meditation, proper nutrition and the law of attraction; be taught in classrooms.
Check this recent article from Andrea Shulman, a physcologist who taught at High School Level for seven years, and is suggesting exactly these kinds of changes. Well done Andrea, let’s hope others see your initiatives.