Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher

by John Taylor Gatto, New York State Teacher of the Year, 1991 Author of The Underground History of American Education

Teaching means many different things, but six lessons are common to schoolteaching from Harlem to Hollywood. You pay for these lessons in more ways than you can imagine, so you might as well know what they are:

The first lesson I teach is: "Stay in the class where you belong."

The second lesson I teach kids is to turn on and off like a light switch.

The third lesson I teach you is to surrender your will to a predestined chain of command.

The fourth lesson I teach is that only I determine what curriculum you will study.

In lesson five I teach that your self-respect should depend on an observer's measure of your worth. My kids are constantly evaluated and judged.

In lesson six I teach children that they are being watched. I keep each student under constant surveillance and so do my colleagues. There are no private spaces for children; there is no private time. Class change lasts 300 seconds to keep promiscuous fraternization at low levels. Students are encouraged to tattle on each other, even to tattle on their parents. Of course I encourage parents to file their own child's waywardness, too.

There's much more at the site. I've debated about putting this on the blog as it's a reflection of Mr. Gatto's experiences in the school (similiar to my views, in reality) and it's a direct hit on the public school system.

Then I decided that what most of our society has attended was in the classroom as described above. And the ingrained mindset of those chairs and desks facing front makes me pretty confident that is how we have in just one example; Learning Standards such as our new batch of Social/Emotional Learning Standards (gag). Standards that have nothing to do with learning, but rather being school ready. Ironically, Learn and Learning is not even a mention in the SELS, except in the title.

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