Friday, February 24, 2012

John Taylor Gatto's History Lesson

     I hope that you are already acquainted with John Taylor Gatto and his influence in the on-going conversation about American education.

     As his Wikipedia entry states, he is "a retired American school teacher with nearly 30 years experience in the classroom, and author of several books on education. He is an activist critical of compulsory schooling, of the perceived divide between the teen years and adulthood, and of what he characterizes as the hegemonic nature of discourse on education and the education professions."

     Some of his friends recently organized a lengthy interview with him, and have released it on the internet.  A close friend of mine discovered it and called me.  I must watch it, he said -- even though it is five hours long.

     I did, and my friend was right -- it was well worth it.  In a very warm, engaging, and informal way, Mr. Gatto talks with his interviewer on a wide variety of subjects ranging from education and philosophy to people and current events.  I learned plenty I hadn't known before.

     Even if you can't spare the time to listen to the entire interview, I urge you to check in to some of the links here -- you'll be glad to add him to your circle of Internet friends.  He is a treasure.


Wikipedia entry on John Taylor Gatto

His website

Find him on YouTube

"The Ultimate History Lesson" (the interview) 

Index of articles he has had published at Lew Rockwell's website

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If you have some thoughts about Mr. Gatto, or his subject matter, I urge you to comment.


  1. Mr. Heid,

    I am a Futurian, and Bible believing Christian so I know of you from there.

    I watched part 1, and am floored.

    I recently heard of a film, "IndocrtiNATION" that posited that the American school system was designed to dumb us down. As a product of that same system, I can attest that I learned little of value there.

    Mr. Gatto has some very interesting theories and after seeing this, I thought, "man, we're not only screwed, we have been for a while."

    You got me hooked though, I'll be making time to watch the certainly is good to know this as a way to help those younger folk up and coming.


  2. Dear No One,
    Thanks for the quick response. I, too, was floored by some of the things Mr. Gatto said -- but they are sober history, not theory, even though intentionally overlooked by many writers and teachers.
    I look forward to your further comments when you finish the series.

  3. Thanks for the link, I didn't know he had such a long interview available. I agree, he is a treasure and greatly influenced me & my husband's decision to homeschool our children.

    On his webpage, you can read his book, Underground History of American Education.

    I also really enjoyed when Rockwell had him on his podcast:

    For the record, much of what he says has been confirmed by what Dr. Dennis Cuddy writes and talks about as well.

  4. For some reason, I always think of the book, "Cloning of the American Mind: Eradicating Morality through Education" with the topic of education and government schools. Not by Gatto but by Bev Eakman. A must-read.

  5. Education, as Mr. Gatto says quite correctly, inspires a servile mind, which must always seek official approval in order to feel confident in itself. Its a method of emasculation and de-feminization, dehumanization.

    The sort of libertarian thinking we really need we need in the schools, because we are raising children to be suspicious of liberty. I am a libertarian in spite of my education, not because of it.

  6. Bro. Robert,

    I finished all 5 hours. Wow.

    I always knew that the education I had endured was next to worthless, though there were a few decent teachers in the bunch. I never knew though things were this bad. It certainly explains a lot about my failures throughout school as well as entering the workforce.

    That said, this interview has possibly changed my life and given me ideas to help the next generation. I could write so much more, but will keep it brief.

    I guess the most important thing I leave with is questions. Where do I go from here? What do I do with this information? How do I apply it to help others? As a Christian, how can me knowing this further God's kingdom?

    If you have any suggestions, I'm open, otherwise any reflections I come up with I will share.

    Thanks bro!

  7. Dear No One:

    I share your concern and questions (especially since I have been and am currently a teacher).

    I have no very specific answers, but here are a couple of recent thoughts, since watching Mr. Gatto's interview.

    1. We can begin to quietly take a fresh sense of personal responsibility. I don't mean, blame; but rather, the sense that we can take responsibility for educating ourselves, trusting Jesus, and working for better things for ourselves and those who are entrusted to our care.

    2. Love is the key, as it has always been. For God; from God; for ourselves, our neighbors, our enemies, and the stranger. Big things and little things. Big miracles and little miracles. And forgiveness.

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  9. Sounds like a good approach, and quite in line with the direction I was leaning.

    I've also been sharing this with people I know who are parents. So far I have yet to get a reaction since I've only shared via email.

    Thanks man!