Home » How to learn » A Different Kind of Teacher, by John Taylor Gatto – Book Review

A Different Kind of Teacher, by John Taylor Gatto – Book Review



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A Different Kind of Teacher, despite its being 12 years old, reads like an analysis of present day schools.  Gatto does what most educators refuse to do – look at schools for what they are and parallel that to what the creators of government forced schooling said they wanted schools to become.  If you are a fan of real world analysis and unsanctioned thoughts, Gatto and his works are for you.

Unsanctioned Thought, from page 52: “Between 1896 and 1920, a small group of industrialists and financiers, together with their private charitable foundations, subsidized university chairs and researchers, and school administrators, spent more money on schooling than the government itself did, with the aim of bending schooling to the service of business and the political state.  Carnegie and Rockefeller alone, as late as 1915, were spending more than the state.  In this laissez-faire fashion, a system of modern schooling was constructed without public participation.”

These kinds of statements turn everything you learned in school on its head.  We get taught that the Big Bad Businessmen are to be reviled, and want to systematically crush the little guy in their lust for money and power.  The irony is that your State loving, Left leaning teacher was right – they just had the methods incorrect.  It isn’t the ‘free market’ or ‘capitalism’ that is your enemy.  These are red herrings.  The school and the school system that you are forced to go to was created for the purpose of keeping the little guys in their place.  The radically independent, free thinking entrepreneurial American had to be shaped and molded into a time serving drone whose allegiance was to the State (wholly controlled by the Moneyed Powers).  Your independent family might teach you the things of the world, you might learn by doing.  Even worse, you might become a competitor to the large corporate interests, like Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Ingvar Kamprad, Madame CJ WalkerSB FullerRichard Branson.  The aforementioned were all exceedingly educated, but unschooled.  What the State / Corporate Alliance had to try to do was break apart the dynamic, flexible and most importantly, independent family unit.  School was the bludgeon to do that.

Proof:  Here is where the garden variety unthinking American, who has been schooled into oblivion, will meet you with silence.  “In our dreams…people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands.  The present education conventions fade from their minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own goodwill upon a grateful and responsive folk.  We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning of men of science.  We have not to raise up from them authors, educators, poets, or men of letters.  We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters musicians nor lawyers, doctors preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have an ample supply.  The task is simple.  We will organize children and teach them in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.”  You can read the whole thing here.  You should be angered at the paternalistic ‘we’ constantly used.  Who is the ‘we’ that is to mold the children of America?  They certainly weren’t talking about the average, free, independent American parents doing the molding.

I was taught by well meaning people who believed in the system.  Chances are so were you.  However, what Gatto does in this book, which is really a series of essays, is show you that the illogical failing system that is foisting illiterate and incapable parasites into the American Electorate, isn’t failing at all.  It was engineered to be that way.  I cannot think of any person more qualified to show you that you live in a house of mirrors.  Gatto is careful in A Different Kind of Teacher to explain that the teachers and administrators are almost always nice, caring people who believe that they are looking out for your best interests.  What they don’t know, and from my experience, don’t care to know, is that they are part of a system that was engineered to create a mass of unthinking spenders, never able to think for themselves or understand the world around them.  In short, they are used to simply doing as their told, which after 12 years of compulsory, authoritarian indoctrination, is what they do.  A Different Kind of Teacher explains this point thoroughly through Gatto’s research and 30 years experience as a middle school English teacher in the NYC Public School system.

In case you think that school is supposed to provide a way out, instead of keep you in your place, I’ll leave you with this quote, by Woodrow Wilson, hero of the Progressives, from a day when the elites were much more forthright about their intent:

“We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class of necessity in every society, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.”
― Woodrow Wilson


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