The wisdom of John Taylor Gatto

I stumbled upon this video of the educator John Taylor Gatto yesterday as I was hanging around in the “dark playground” and avoiding writing 1 of 2 remaining papers for the class I’m taking this semester. I’d never heard of him, but he was apparently a pretty well known dissident educator/intellectual, at least in New York City in the 80s and 90s. I really resonated with a lot of what he was saying about the nature of school systems as we know them, about how the learning experiences of the children in school are so abstract and unrelated to the world of work and real life that of course they will fail to be interested in doing the rote memorization and silly busywork that the adults would have them do. I thought it was really awesome how he helped to connect the kids back to themselves — their inherent wonder, curiosity and intelligence — by encouraging them to pursue their own interests and to take themselves seriously as future brilliant members of the world. It made me feel very inspired and really quite bummed out about my own education. Though I went to a well regarded “magnet” high school, I still felt that so many kids, including myself, were going through the motions of “excelling” in school in order to competitively move on to the next pre-ordained step in life without really considering what is uniquely brilliant and special about themselves. I do think that its best for all young people to exercise more control over their learning path as early as possible so that they and the world can benefit from their gifts in a more joyful and direct way.

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