Different Kind of Teacher: Reflections on the Bitter Lessons of American Schooling

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John Taylor Gatto analyzes the roots of the modern American education system, detailing how it was designed to foster economic interests and facilitate management of the labor force. He then outlines ways to revitalize the system, advocating greater emphasis on critical analysis, creativity, practicality, and real-world exposure in the curriculum. He also calls on educators and administrators to acknowledge young people's need for a spiritual and ethical framework upon which to ...
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Overview

John Taylor Gatto analyzes the roots of the modern American education system, detailing how it was designed to foster economic interests and facilitate management of the labor force. He then outlines ways to revitalize the system, advocating greater emphasis on critical analysis, creativity, practicality, and real-world exposure in the curriculum. He also calls on educators and administrators to acknowledge young people's need for a spiritual and ethical framework upon which to build a good life.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Provocative, stimulating, evocative, and consistent: such is this collection of comments clarifying the ills of American education and ideas for solving them. Gatto, an active participant in evaluating the state of American public education, taught in the New York City public schools system for 30 years, resigning shortly after he was named New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991. He has since spoken and written widely on education reform. His earlier work this year, The Underground History of American Education (LJ 11/1/00), gathered a collection of material to highlight and analyze why mass compulsory schooling is unreformable. In this work, Gatto brings together 16 of his essays and speeches from 1990 to 1999, which, for the most part, tackle the same issues: where our failing schools have gone wrong and what can be done to fix them. Written in an informative, easy-to-understand, and prophetic style, this work nicely complements Gatto's other titles. A fruitful addition to libraries lacking Gatto's other works.--Leroy Hommerding, Fort Myers Beach P.L. Dist., FL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781893163218
  • Publisher: Perseus Distribution
  • Publication date: 2/28/2001
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 7
Part 1 Schoolrooms Speak Bluntly
The Curriculum of the Family 15
Why Do Bad Schools Cost So Much? 21
A Year With John Taylor Gatto 32
We Can't Afford School Reform 35
Part 2 Analyzing the System
Universal Education 49
Confederacy of Dunces: The Tyranny of Compulsory Schooling 60
How Public Are Our Public Schools? 83
Nine Assumptions and Twenty-One Facts 103
School Books and the Hidden Curriculum 116
Horatio Alger's Country: The Mysterious Origins of American Adoption 133
A Different Kind of Teacher 158
Part 3 The Search for Meaning
In Defense of Original Sin: The Neglected Genius of American Spirituality 171
Beyond Money: The Purpose of Learning (and Life) 185
What Really Matters? 200
The Art of True Conversation: A Letter to My Daughter 213
The Educated Person 225
Sources 229
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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted April 18, 2011

    Highly Recommend

    Gatto, John Taylor, A Different Kind of Teacher: Solving the Crisis of American Schooling, Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Hills Books, 2001.
    John Taylor Gatto's book entitled A Different King of Teacher: Solving the Crisis of American Schooling is a compilation of sixteen articles Gatto wrote about the education system in America. Gatto was a New York State Teacher of the Year, as well as the New York City Teacher of the Year three times. He eventually quit the teaching profession because he felt he was helping a failing system. He was receiving commendations for his work in the teaching profession while students he taught were graduating without the basic skills needed to make it in life.
    The first section contains three articles which were written while he was still a teacher. He gives light to the problems he sees in his school (a middle school) and how the students are not learning in a system that contains them. He argues that students who learn in an environment where each year they are with the same students in the same environment are missing out on what the real world could offer them. His argument is that students should spend as much time in the real world (independent study, community service, field studies) as they do in the classroom.
    Section two contains seven small articles written in the years after Gatto left the teaching proffession to devote his time to fixing the schools system. His articles are a critique of the school system, and sometimes they make you feel bad because you do many of the things he says should not happen. He argues that students do not learn from within the four walls of a school, and yet many schools do not provide avenues for students to learn outside of school.
    Section three deals with the results of Gatto's studies and research into whats wrong with the current school system, curriculum, and goals of education and what should be done to fix it. Gatto argues that after graduation, many young adults lack the skills to enter a trade. They can't fix a flat tire or even make correct change. Students entering college have to take remedial classes, costing time and money, and not giving them any credit.
    It is hard to swallow some of the things he attacks or argues, though many seem true. The task seems large. And too many people have an input in the education system. This book is a good way to spark a few ideas for the classroom, and outside of the four walls. I would recommend this book to anyone seeking the teaching profession or involved in the teaching profession.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2001

    A Unique Voice On Education

    Amid the clutter of noise that surrounds American educational issues these days, John Taylor Gatto¿s voice comes through with clarity and depth in this set of collected essays. Gatto is that rarest of birds - an original thinker with a knack for framing an argument in a way that is powerfully engaging. His words really do make you think about why schools are the way they are.<BR><BR> While the title of this book may suggest that in its pages will be found a description of some sort of set of teaching ideals, in fact this is a much bigger - and far more radical - piece of work. The whole idea of compulsory education, Gatto argues, is terribly flawed right down to its roots. Schooling - not education, but schooling - has become an ¿insane¿ experiment in social engineering that we have inherited by way of John Dewey, Andrew Carnegie, and the Prussians. It seems a little far-fetched at first blush, but Gatto¿s almost thirty years of teaching in New York City Public Schools, as well as his fresh and rounded view of history bring an authenticity to his analysis that is hard to dismiss.<BR><BR> Occasionally Gatto does stretch things a bit in order to make a point. For example, when he argues that scientists are not ¿made¿ in schools, and that most science teaching in schools adds essentially not a heck of a lot to kids¿ abilities to actually do experiments - certainly an important and reasonable enough claim - he cites Robert Scott Root-Bernstein¿s book <EM>Discovering</EM> to back his assertion that ¿not one major scientific discovery of this century, including exotica like superconductivity, came from an academic laboratory, or a corporate or government laboratory, or a school laboratory.¿ Well, that¿s a lot of hooey. Penicillin, insulin, and the atomic bomb all came out of labs like that. Nevertheless, he is on target about scientists not having learned their crafts during their schooling, and about the irrelevance of too much science teaching.<BR><BR> Gatto¿s bleak portrayal of the day-to-day goings-on inside of public school buildings rings with truth, but it is his thinking on why the situation has evolved to crisis proportions that gives this book a strong and resonant voice.

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