Groundbreaking Educator and Author John Taylor Gatto Passes Away

by: Sara on 11/05/2018
Posted in: Education

We were sad to learn of the passing of the groundbreaking educator and author John Taylor Gatto on Thursday October 25th, 2018. Twice named New York State Teacher of the Year, he became a fierce advocate of families and young people taking back education and learning, arguing that "genius is as common as dirt," but conventional schooling is driving out the natural curiosity and problem solving skills we're born with, replacing it with rule-following, fragmented time, and disillusionment.

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After 30 years in the public school system John resigned from the teaching profession in an op-ed to the Wall Street Journal in which he stated:

I’ve come slowly to understand what it is I really teach: A curriculum of confusion, class position, arbitrary justice, vulgarity, rudeness, disrespect for privacy, indifference to quality, and utter dependency. I teach how to fit into a world I don’t want to live in.

I just can’t do it anymore. I can’t train children to wait to be told what to do; I can’t train people to drop what they are doing when a bell sounds; I can’t persuade children to feel some justice in their class placement when there isn’t any, and I can’t persuade children to believe teachers have valuable secrets they can acquire by becoming our disciples. That isn’t true.

John spent the rest of his life trying to repair the public education system.

New Society Publishers is proud to have published some of his most important works.  A bestseller for 25 years, John Taylor Gatto's radical treatise on public education, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, continues to advocate for the unshackling of children and learning from formal schooling.

In Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling,  Gatto demonstrates that the harm school inflicts is rational and deliberate. The real function of pedagogy, he argued, is to render the common population manageable. To

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that end, young people must be conditioned to rely upon experts, to remain divided from natural alliances, and to accept disconnections from their own lived experiences. Escaping this trap requires a strategy Gatto calls "open-source learning," which imposes no artificial divisions between learning and life.

Acquisitions Editor Ingrid Witvoet remembers working with Mr. Gatto with fondness. "It was my incredible honour to serve as John's editor for Weapons of Mass Instruction, and to write an afterword for the 25th anniversary edition of Dumbing Us Down. Working closely with John through these years showed me ever more clearly what a towering, but gentle and kind intellect he truly possessed, and that he made it his mission to use this tool for the betterment of all of us." She continues "We are poorer without him, but it's up to all of us now to continue to fan the never-quiet embers of his incredible legacy."

 

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