Friday, April 21, 2006

Teacher leave those kids alone....
I just finished reading for the second time Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto. I probably read it the first time in 1999 perhaps 1998. The subtitle is The Hidden Curriculum of Complusory Schooling. The author, New York State Teacher of the Year and this book sheds so much light upon the public school system that half way through the book you know that it is not necessary to "do school" to get a real education. In fact, JT Gatto contends that "education and schooling are, as we all have experienced, mutually exclusive terms."
This slender volume packs a powerful punch. Don't take my word for it. Read the book. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes:
"Curiosity has no important place in my work, only conformity."

"School is a twelve-year jail sentence where bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned."

". . . networks, even good ones, drain the vitality from communities and families."

"It's just impossible for education and schooling to be the same thing."

"By preventing a free market in education, a handful of social engineers - backed by the industries that profit from compulsory schooling: teacher colleges, textbook publishers, materials suppliers, et al. - has ensured that most of our children will not have an education, even though they may be thoroughly schooled."

"Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges; it should allow you to find values which will be your road map through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die."
Since Mr. Gatto taught school (not english as he thought he was going to) in the NYC school system, he is basically outing compulsory schooling and taking us behind the scenes illuminating a philosophy of education which has little to do with learning. As I continue to travel the road that I am on with my husband and children, more and more I see how this little book had a great impact on our freedom to educate our children at home and to live by the spirit and not by man-made schooling philosophies.

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