The Best of John Taylor Gatto’s “The Public School Nightmare”

The Public School Nightmare

Why fix a system designed to destroy individual thought?

by John Taylor Gatto

Sadschoolchild

Let’s allow children the joy of life during their formative years.

I want you to consider the frightening possibility that we are spending far too much money on schooling, not too little. I want you to consider that we have too many people employed in interfering with the way children grow up – and that all this money and all these people, all the time we take out of children’s lives and away from their homes and families and neighborhoods and private explorations – gets in the way of education.

…last year in St. Louis, I heard a vice-president of IBM tell an audience of people assembled to redesign the process of teacher certification that in his opinion this country became computer-literate by self-teaching, not through any action of schools. He said 45 million people were comfortable with computers who had learned through dozens of non-systematic strategies, none of them very formal; if schools had pre-empted the right to teach computer use we would be in a horrible mess right now instead of leading the world in this literacy. Now think about Sweden, a beautiful, healthy, prosperous and up-to-date country with a spectacular reputation for quality in everything it produces. It makes sense to think their schools must have something to do with that. It just isn’t worth the price, say the Swedes, to provide jobs for teachers and therapists if the result is sick, incomplete kids who can’t be put back together again very easily. The entire Swedish school sequence isn’t 12 years, either – it’s nine. Less schooling, not more. The direct savings of such a step in the US would be $75–100 billion, a lot of unforeclosed home mortgages, a lot of time freed up with which to seek an education.

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