Monday, June 9, 2008

Why I Unschool (well...one reason, anyway.)

This is a fabulous quote from John Taylor Gatto's UNBELIEVABLE book of essays and speeches entitled Dumbing Us Down - The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. For those of you that don't know, Gatto achieved both Teacher of the Year for New York State, and for New York City, on separate years. So he knows his stuff. If you are a friend of mine, you can borrow my copy. I may even make it required reading in order to be my friend. Oh, come on now, I'm just kidding. Sort of.

"In theoretical, metaphorical terms, the idea I began to explore was this one; that teaching is nothing like the art of painting, where, by the addition of material to a surface, an image is synthetically produced, but more like the art of sculpture, where, by the subtraction of material, an image already locked in the stone is enabled to emerge. It is a crucial distinction. In other words, I dropped the idea that I was an expert whose job it was to fill the little heads with my expertise, and began to explore how I could remove those obstacles that prevented the inherent genius of children from gathering itself. I no longer felt comfortable defining my work as bestowing wisdom on a struggling classroom audience. Although I continue to this day in those futile assays because of the nature of institutional teaching, wherever possible I have broken with teaching tradition and sent kids down their separate paths to their own private truths."

This man is one of my heroes. You've just gotta read it. Okay?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is good article, thank you.
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Stephanie said...

That is a great qoute, I enjoy reading Gatto.

How is the mommy to be doing these days?

jewlsntexas said...

This is so awesome!
I am totally going to use this on my blog later - I have been posting about unschooling a lot recently.

Thanks for sharing.

Sarah said...

here here!!

Congratulations to all adults who can fully enjoy the wonderful people who are the young children of this world, simply by being aware of their personhood!!
Thanks, Hil, I haven't actually read Gatto, and I guess he's a neighbor huh? If you saw the overbearing micromanaging they enforce here in the city classrooms you would have to have even more respect for his courage and endurance. Teachers here are under enormous pressure to conform.
My most hopeful thoughts to you and yours..

MainelyMama said...

Can I sign up to borrow your copy? Don't want to risk losing a friendship due to my booklist. ;)

Gregory said...

Hi, thanks for your blog, which I just stumbled across, and this post. I teach English Literature at a Florida high school, and I couldn't agree with Gatto more. Although I haven't read his book, one thing that I'm sure he must touch on is how a teacher can get burnt out with this line of thinking. I freely admit to my students that I don't have all the answers, and what they get out of the class is up to them. We talk about concepts of perceptions, how they are shaped, and the what the consequences of those perceptions are- good or bad. But I can't supply them with their perception, that's up to them. The majority of "work" in the class comes from them- the way it should be! And believe me, nothing kills the development of coherent perception like a standardized test. FCAT- augh!

foundthings said...

hey girl-email me your address- foundthings AT cfl -ya know the dot- COM i have a mail art card for you but switched email clients and can't find it for the life of me!

Sarah said...

I am so glad I am a big fan of Gatto and have read all his publications...to be in your circle of friends! Great post...such a wonderful writer that you are, you should post more frequently.