I think I read John Gatto’s Teacher of the Year acceptance speech about 3-4 years ago, but somehow I happened across it again today.
This is subversive, dangerous, powder-keg stuff! It’s also great thinking and writing.
I don’t know how true it is, but it feels true, smells true, and seems to answer a lot of questions that today’s problems in today’s schools raise.
I defy you to read it without changing your opinion of schools.
A couple of excerpts:
The products of schooling are, as I’ve said, irrelevant. Well-schooled people are irrelevant. They can sell film and razor blades, push paper and talk on the telephones, or sit mindlessly before a flickering computer terminal but as human beings they are useless. Useless to others and useless to themselves.
Children and old people are penned up and locked away from the business of the world to a degree without precedent – nobody talks to them anymore and without children and old people mixing in daily life a community has no future and no past, only a continuous present. In fact, the name “community” hardly applies to the way we interact with each other. We live in networks, not communities, and everyone I know is lonely because of that.
Senator Ted Kennedy’s office released a paper not too long ago claiming that prior to compulsory education the state literacy rate was 98% and after it the figure never again reached above 91% where it stands in 1990. I hope that interests you.
I googled Gatto’s name, and found he has a website and a foundation.