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John Taylor Gatto, RIP

If he wasn’t the single most important voice for freedom, good sense, and respect for children in education, he was certainly among the top three or four. Dead at 82. From the article:

Gatto spent nearly 30 years as a teacher in the infamously rough New York City public school system. He was awarded New York City Teacher of the Year three consecutive years while also being recognized as New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991.

Over the course of his career, Gatto was recognized by other educators for the rapport he had built with his students. While other teachers were spending much of their day on behavioral management issues, Gatto’s students were actively engaged in his lectures and genuinely excited about learning. …

After three decades in the classroom, Gatto realized that the public school system was squashing individualism more than it was educating students and preparing them for the real world. To make matters worse, his later research would reveal that this dumbing down was not just by accident, but by design.

Feeling the education system was beyond repair, Gatto could no longer in good conscience be an active participant. Rather than sending his letter of resignation to his superiors in his school district, he sent a copy of “I Quit, I Think” to the Wall Street Journal, where it was published as an op-ed on July 25, 1991. …

Gatto dedicated the rest of his life to repairing the damage done by the public education system.

Please read the rest. It’s a wonderful article summing the life’s work of an amazing man.

His book, The Underground History of American Education is a must-read. (That’s an Amazon link, but the book is also available free online in multiple versions.)


  1. James
    James October 30, 2018 9:23 am

    I read Dumbing Us Down and one other of his, the title escaping me at the moment. Unfortunate that it takes the man’s death to bring to mind that there’s more in his bibliography that I need to catch up on. Death is no good, but at least he bettered his “threescore and ten” and filled those years productively. RIP to a thoughtful and honest man.

  2. UnReconstructed
    UnReconstructed October 30, 2018 9:24 am

    He was truly a blazing light in the shadows. The world is better for his having lived in it, and significantly poorer with his passing.

    If you have not read his works, read them NOW.

  3. Jorge
    Jorge October 30, 2018 9:44 am

    He was a big part of the reason I managed to convince my late wife not to send our children to school and then to move from “homeschooling” to “unschooling”. He will be missed. His work had a huge impact on my life and I am sure an even bigger one on my children’s.

  4. Alan Richmond
    Alan Richmond October 30, 2018 3:34 pm

    His books were one of the things that convinced us to homeschool/unschool. One of the best decisions we ever made.

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