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John Taylor Gatto Quotes

"By preventing a free market in education, a handful of social engineers, backed by the industries that profit from compulsory schooling: teacher colleges, textbook publishers, materials suppliers, and others have ensured that most of our children will not have an education, even though they may be thoroughly schooled." ~ John Taylor Gatto

“Children learn what they live. Put kids in a class and they will live out their lives in an invisible cage, isolated from their chance at community; interrupt kids with bells and horns all the time and they will learn that nothing is important or worth finishing; ridicule them and they will retreat from human association; shame them and they will find a hundred ways to get even. The habits taught in large-scale organizations are deadly.” ~ John Taylor Gatto

“School is about learning to wait your turn, however long it takes to come, if ever. And how to submit with a show of enthusiasm to the judgment of strangers, even if they are wrong, even if your enthusiasm is phony.” ~ John Taylor Gatto

“One of the first things a family tries to teach its children is the difference between good and evil, right and wrong. One of the first things our schools do is destroy that distinction.” ~ John Taylor Gatto

“Creative work and critical thought, which produces new knowledge, can’t be conditioned; indeed, conditioning prevents these things from ever happening.” ~ John Taylor Gatto

“It was never factually true that young people learn to read or do arithmetic primarily by being taught these things. These things are learned, but not really taught at all. Over-teaching interferes with learning, although the few who survive it may well come to imagine it was by an act of teaching.” ~ John Taylor Gatto

“The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders.” ~ John Taylor Gatto

“School presents daily exercises in dis-association. It forces unwelcome associations on most of its prisoners. It sets petty, meaningless competitions in motion on a daily basis, pitting potential associates against one another in contests for praise and other worthless prizes.” ~ John Taylor Gatto

“It is absurd and anti-life to be a part of a system that compels you to listen to a stranger reading poetry when you want to learn to construct buildings, or to sit with a stranger discussing the construction of buildings when you want to read poetry.” -John Taylor Gatto

“I’ve concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress our genius only because we haven’t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.” ~ John Taylor Gatto

“The old system where every child was locked away and set into nonstop, daily cut throat competition with every other child for silly prizes called grades is broken beyond repair. If it could be fixed it could have been fixed by now. Good riddance.” ~ John Taylor Gatto

“I’ve noticed a fascinating phenomenon in my thirty years of teaching: schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet. No one believes anymore that scientists are trained in science classes or politicians in civics classes or poets in English classes. The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders. This is a great mystery to me because thousands of humane, caring people work in schools as teachers and aides and administrators, but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions. Although teachers to care and do work very, very hard, the institution is psychopathic – it has no conscience. It rings a bell and the young man in the middle of writing a poem must close his notebook and move to a different cell where he must memorize that humans and monkeys derive from a common ancestor.” ~ John Taylor Gatto, [Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling]

“Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges; it should allow you to find values which will be your roadmap through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die.” ~ John Taylor Gattoo, [Dumbing us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling]

“School is a twelve-year jail sentence where bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it. I should know.” ~ John Taylor Gatto, [Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling]

“When you take the free will out of education, that turns it into schooling.” ~ John Taylor Gatto

"The secret of American schooling is that it doesn’t teach the way children learn, and it isn’t supposed to; school was engineered to serve a concealed command economy and a deliberately re-stratified social order. It wasn’t made for the benefit of kids and families as those individuals and institutions would define their own needs. School is the first impression children get of an organized society; like most first impressions, it is the lasting one. Life according to school is dull and stupid, only consumption promises relief: Coke, Big Macs, fashion jeans, that’s where real meaning is found, that is the classroom’s lesson, however indirectly delivered." ~ John Taylor Gatto, [The Underground History of American Education: An Intimate Investigation Into the Prison of Modern Schooling]

"Schools are intended to produce, through the application of formulas, formulaic human beings whose behavior can be predicted and controlled." ~ John Taylor Gatto

"Schools teach exactly what they are intended to teach and they do it well: how to be a good Egyptian and remain in your place in the pyramid." ~ John Taylor Gatto

"Slowly I began to realize that the bells and the confinement, the crazy sequences, the age-segregation, the lack of privacy, the constant surveillance, and all the rest of the national curriculum of schooling were designed exactly as if someone had set out to prevent children from learning how to think and act, to coax them into addiction and dependent behavior." ~ John Taylor Gatto

"Schooling is organized by command and control from without; education is self-organized from within…" ~ John Taylor Gatto [Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling]

"School trains children to be employees and consumers; teach your own to be leaders and adventurers. School trains children to obey reflexively; teach your own to think critically and independently." ~ John Taylor Gatto [Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling]

"We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness - curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids to truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then. But we don’t do that." ~ 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