John Taylor Gatto was a New York public school teacher with 30 years of classroom experience. He was awarded New York City Teacher of the Year four times and New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991. He is a man of penetrating curiosity, formidable courage, unparalleled trust in the natural learning process and highly intelligent. He takes an approach to education that allys natural accountability and thirst for learning with wise mentorship and research assistance.
The Secrets to John Taylor Gatto’s Success?
He began to wonder how the wealthiest, most-powerful people educated their children and then proceeded to research the methods used in our nations private-elite boarding schools. He was amazed to find out the techniques and principles used were inexpensive and things that ANYONE could apply, including himself. The results he would rendered, even from the poorest ghettos of the U.S., were so spectacular that even he was blown away!
He pointed out that in the 2000 presidential election four of the six candidates had come from one of these private-elite boarding schools which only graduate about 1,000 students/year.
What did he discover in his research?
He found that although each school operates differently in many other respects, there were 14 PRINCIPLE THEMES that unite these elite private boarding schools.
1. No child should graduate without A THEORY OF HUMAN NATURE, an understanding of what makes people tick.
What buttons do you press to get the results you want? They gain this theory through the study of history, philosophy, literature, theology, and law to determine what people are like, what have they been like in the past, and how they are likely to be in the future.
2. A stong experience with the ACT OF LITERACIES — Writing and Public Speaking.
It doesn’t matter if you have good ideas if you cannot articulate them to others. You accomplish this by taking regular opportunities to speak before strangers. To reach a level of competency in writing, one must write daily and without intervention.
3. INSIGHT INTO OUR MAJOR INSTITUTIONAL FORMS such as courts, corporations and the military, including details of the ideas, the working engines, that drive them.
Most schools don’t teach an understanding of the inner-workings of our institutions! If we studyed this, we would discover certain principles such as the more skilled an arguement on all sides, the better our chances at approximating the truth. The U.S. was the world’s first laboratory of dissent on everyone’s part and the American Dream was built on the ability to speak your mind in a public forum. Another example would be to explore why the American military retains1-1 1\2% of the adult male population in service even in times of peace?
4. Repeated exercises in the forms of GOOD MANNERS & POLITENESS.
This is based on the utter truth that politeness and civility are the basis of all future relationships, alliances, access to places you might want to go. This is the complete opposite of what goes on in our public schools. “Now don’t just tell me that’s common sense because every public school I’ve ever been in, and I’ve been in hundreds, is a laboratory of rudeness, cruelty, sloppiness, coarseness.”-John Taylor Gatto
5. INDEPENDENT WORK.
In public schools, teachers are responsible for filling 80-90% of students’ time one way or another, and all the choices are the teachers. Here this ratio is ideally reversed. They’re expected to DO most of the work, and to be resourceful enough to use the work of other kids too.
6. ENERGETIC PHYSICAL sports aren’t a luxury or a way to blow off steam, but absolutely the only way to confer grace on the human presence which often translates into power and wealth.
George Washington stated that two things made his physical presence outstanding and were deliberately selected: horse-back riding and ballroom dancing. They conferred a commanding physical presence on the person who could do those things well. Sports also teach you practice in handling pain and in physical emergencies.
7. A COMPLETE THEORY OF ACCESS TO ANY PERSON OR ANY PLACE.
Far better than reading a civics textbook, set the task to aquire a private meeting with the mayor of a city, the governor, CEO’s, whosoever is relevant to their interests and passionate pursuits, and let them work for a length of time to structure access to these people. ( developing a quid pro quo, personal appeal, dress, poise etc)
8. RESPONSIBILITY as an utter part of the curriculum.
Beyond things like washing dishes, things like caring for a horse, taking on some important community service, shooting for leadership in clubs; it’s easier than you think because it’s a lot of hard work to be a responsible leader of a club that’s actually doing something. They’re taught to always grab for responsibility when it’s offered and to always deliver more than is asked for.
9. ARRIVAL AT A PERSONAL CODE OF STANDARDS IN PRODUCTION, BEHAVIOR, & MORALITY.
A long range goal that is checked regularly and arrived at by internal motivation. You don’t really ever quite get there, but always aiming for your personal best.
10. FAMILIARITY WITH THE MASTER CREATIONS OF MUSIC, OF ART, DESIGN, PAINTING, ARCHITECTURE, SCULPTURE, LITERATURE, & DRAMA. To be at ease with the arts, because apart from religion, the arts are the only way to transcend the animal materiality in our lives–to get in touch with the bigger you.
11. THE POWER OF ACCURATE OBSERVATION & RECORDING.
Example: In the British upper classes, if you could not draw what you saw with your eye you did not see what was in fact there. Drawing was expected not as a way to pass time but a way to sharpen the perception. If Charles Darwin’s had not been able to skillfully draw it is unlikely that anyone would have attended to his well articulated theory of evolution of the favored races. Modern science has been possible in large part because of graphic illustrations.
12. The ability to DEAL WITH CHALLENGES of all sorts.
Everyone’s challenges are so different– you must KNOW a child intimately in order to help strengthen them. For example, if your child is painfully shy, obviously public presentation is the corrective that they need rather than live that way the rest of their lives. Perhaps all of us are cowards on some level, but it’s vital to find out that physical/emotional/mental/spiritual challenges can be met…and if they hurt, we find out not as much as we perhaps feared and we end up with personal GROWTH. Teach your child if they get knocked down to stand back up, and if they get knocked down again, to stand back up again! But challenges are different for different people.
13. A HABIT IN CAUTION IN REASONING TO CONCLUSIONS.
Listening to or watching propaganda for hours is not the way to find answers! They were told to form the opinions only after very careful study, pondering, etc.
14. THE CONSTANT DEVELOPMENT AND TESTING OF JUDGEMENT.
Discriminating value and then following up to see how consistently things transpire and how skewed they were.
“Now this is a curriculum well worth considering long and hard.”
~John Taylor Gatto