The John Taylor Gatto Series
Looking at the work and impact of John Taylor Gatto
“I feel ashamed that so many of us cannot imagine a better way to do things than locking children up all day in cells instead of letting them grow up knowing their families, mingling with the world, assuming real obligations, striving to be independent and self-reliant and free.”
-John Taylor Gatto
Have you ever read John Taylor Gatto’s work? His thoughts are so hard hitting that they are painful to read sometimes. When I first started reading his work, I felt a discomfort in my stomach. It was the kind of radical honesty that made my body shift because deep down, I knew he was right, but I did not want him to be.
It’s a visceral reaction.
As a product of the public school system and as an adult participant (teacher & tutor), I have witnessed all the ways a child’s view of self is systematically restructured while attending school. So, I get what he’s saying. I understand the stories he shares and the experience he is conveying. And it’s unnerving.
No one in their right mind consciously sets out to contribute to the anguish of children in our educational system. But it happens all the time and it’s become so commonplace that people are have grown numb to it.
I believe Gatto wrote to wake people up, to poke us, and make us feel uncomfortable. He wanted those who did not work in schools to see what was happening day in and day out. He wanted parents to understand what their school children were up against and exactly how the system was built.
He did not want people turning a blind eye any longer.
It’s important to understand that Gatto was a man who dedicated his life to education. First, as a public school teacher in NYC for close to 30 years. Then, as a speaker on education reform after he publicly resigned in the same year he was named New York State Teacher of the Year. So, his words are not to be taken lightly. He is not a disgruntled, fired employee who is looking to get back at his former boss. Instead, he is a teacher who lived, breathed, and labored in the classrooms of a large American city and he saw things.
I am going to revisit and share his work over the coming weeks in a few essays called: The Gatto series. Stay tuned!