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A Different Kind of Teacher: Solving the Crisis of American Schooling Paperback – April, 2002

4.1 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Berkeley Hills Books (April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1893163407
  • ISBN-13: 978-1893163409
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #611,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
John Taylor Gatto is a man that every public school superintendent would fear (and hopefully listen to attentively). He has 30 years experience teaching in the best and worst schools in New York City. Gatto succinctly describes the history of public education in the United States and the motives of the "powers-that-were" to create public education (hint: they weren't out of social benevolence!). I read Gatto's "Dumbing Us Down" first, before I read this, and I was so enrapt with his writings and message that I ran out and bought this book and read it two days after finishing Dumbing Us Down. I keep these books close by and have recommended them to a number of teachers I work with (yes, I am a 10 year public school teacher). Here are a few of the jewels I picked up from Gatto and I think you might be interested in reading and knowing: First, he points out that from every town/ city's educational budget, only about 25 % of it actually goes toward purchasing student supplies. The other 75 % is mostly administrative costs. He claims our education system "schools" students, it shows them how to pass tests that we prepare them for, but it doesn't educate them. OK, if you're a college graduate what talents and skills do you have? Can you grow food? build your own house? This is what Gatto means is the difference between "schooling" students and "educating" them. (He mentions the conference where he was speaking and a 25 y/o man said he had 2 college degrees and was very well "educated" by American standards but didn't know how to fix a broken fan belt on his car.i.e.--too much useless information in curriculums, but no practical knowledge or trade work taught to kids that would be useful to them in the world they will graduate into.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
For those who cling to the idea that our public school system can be "fixed," this book may be a path to intellectual enlightenment. What Mr. Gatto so effectively describes is the kind of paradigm building our public school industry excels at and calls an education. It has become so successful at achieving its goal of "preparing our young people for the adult world" that they become the unwitting (read: unthinking) parents for succeeding generations of public school mentality consumers.
The book wasn't written to condemn or indict teachers and administrators who work within the system; it was written to expose the problems which perpetuate an institution that, by any meaningful measure, fails so miserably to prepare children for the wonderful challenges and opportunities to be found in life after adolescence.
One theme that Gatto convincingly explores is the damage inflicted on the human psyche through the many years of compulsory schooling. For the reader to reflect on how this instills a conditioning of the mind, not to think but to simply learn and accept what it's told, is a solid beginning for understanding how the vast majority of people in this country continue to so willingly accept the idea of public schools as a good thing.
The simple fact is we can do much, much better in providing education for our children. In helping us all to better understand why public schooling "is broke," Gatto's contribution is a gem. (The five stars I gave it are not enough.) It's a wonderful read for everyone, whether pro or con on public schools, for the simple reason that it makes you think.
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Format: Paperback
John Taylor Gatto is a veteran of the modern public school system, and big industry before it, and is thus in a prime position to explain why our kids come out of their school days uneducated, maladjusted, and dependent. And this collection of essays written in the years since Gatto stopped teaching explains his point of view, his historical perspective, and his ideas for what comes next.

Why do we have a new study come out every four or five years indicating our students are the least academically qualified in the industrialized world? Each time this happens, Gatto points out, we have a flurry of activity, a reallocation of funds, a rededication to the purposes of schooling. Math and science are further stressed, to the point that we have the strictest hard science standards in history. And a few years later the exact same study comes out again. Gatto insists it's time to get off this track and go in a new and better direction.

Gatto insists that home and family, community, and meaningful work are the keys to educating youth in the skills they really need to survive. School inculcates notions of dependency that result in kids being reduced to a cog in the wheel. School strips kids of a connection to family and community values, individuality, and personal industry. Only when kids are free to teach themselves what they need and want to know, and are encouraged to do so, will education truly happen. As Gatto says, you can make up for a lack of schooling. You cannot make up for a lack of education.

The thesis of this work doesn't entirely hold up. Gatto lionizes how things used to be in the past, suggesting that kids were better off when Mom, Pop, and the Preacher gave them all the education they needed, and then Junior inherited the farm.
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