Chris Acheson writes, “John Taylor Gatto is a former New York City school teacher. During his 30-year career, he has taught at 5 different public schools, has had his teaching license suspended twice for insubordination, and was once covertly terminated while on medical leave. He has also won the New York City Teacher of the Year award three times and the New York State Teacher of the Year award once during the final year of his career. The whole time he has been an outspoken critic of the school system. Nine years after leaving his career, he published The Underground History of American Education (full text available here), in which he puts forth his insider’s vision of what is wrong with American schooling. His verdict is not what you’d expect: the school system cannot be fixed, Gatto asserts, because it has been designed not to educate. Skeptical? So was I.” Read on for the rest of Acheson’s review.
Okay, I’m sure you’ll have very little difficulty imagining the expression on my face and the tone in my voice. I’ve been in my classroom from 6:30AM to 9PM.
And I know it’s your journal and you marked this for future perusal…etc…etc…
But dammit, now I’m all riled up.
This guy calls his work ‘speculative history’ and a ‘work of intuition.’ And then he warns us that he isn’t particularly concerned about the facts: “No doubt IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve made some factual mistakes, but essays since Montaigne have been about locating truth, not about assembling facts. Truth and fact arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the same thing.”
And then he blantanly spells out his objective: ” My essay is meant to mark out crudely some ground for a scholarship of schooling, my intention is that you not continue to regard the official project of education through an older, traditional perspective, but to see it as a frightening chapter in the administrative organization of knowledgeÃ¢â‚¬â€a text we must vigorously repudiate as our ancestors once did. ”
His intention, from the beginning, is to tell lies that are big enough to frighten and outrage us. We are supposed to look at education with a whole new perspective…his. For a man who is talking about critical thinking and education as a tool to dumb down society, he doesn’t seem to be leaving much room for his readers to think for themselves. Seems to me he’s feeding us the same shit with a different spoon.
Our education system deserves all kinds of criticism for all kinds of cruelties and misdeeds. I cannot disagree with that. I am one of the system’s loudest critics and at times one of the most wicked perpetrators of evil deeds. This guy is so very far over the top, however, that he lost credibility with me before I even started on Chapter One.
Actually, it’s not marked for future perusal; that was the “how to write a weblog” entry, or somesuch similar thing.
I entered this one because it looked intriguing and I knew you’d have some valuable input with respect to it. I did not, however, read his entire paper; only the Slashdot review which was apparently a mistake (not because it got you riled up but because the review clearly omitted some very significant points).