W.K. Lawrence's Reviews > A Different Kind of Teacher: Solving the Crisis of American Schooling

A Different Kind of Teacher by John Taylor Gatto
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Dec 21, 10

bookshelves: education

Gatto's grouchy collection of essays and speeches is a dreadful downer. This is a sad ending to a Columbia University education and an example of what 30 years in the NYC school system can do to a person. But Gatto is overly pessimistic with no solutions or hope. His only solution seems to be anarchy. Surely, not every NYC school teacher feels this way. If all that one looks for is the negative, all they're going to find is the bad. But it's these bitter horrorific tirades that have made him millions in a second career, while collecting the pension of a job he blasts and admits he manipulated. Gatto points to a hand full of millionaires who don't have much education, while ignoring the fact that most millionaires and most in the middle class have a formal education. I couldn't wait for this train of complaints to end.

I'll admit, Gatto is on to something when he begins to explore the foundations of American education with its German origins, Hegel and Wundt, and Stanley G. Hall, but Gatto takes it in the direction of conspiracy theory and never really gets down to any valid points. The author seems too paranoid with too many Orwell references and not enough reputable citations. In fact, none of the "facts" that Gatto mentions are cited or backed up with any support.

Gatto is right about over testing and teacher certifications not being credible measures, and he's right about Dewey's "new individualism" not being authentic individualism, and he's right when he points to nations like Sweeden who do their schooling in nine years opposed to twelve and get it pretty good. But overall, Gatto repeats himself over and over and never really goes anywhere. Dumbing us down was a bit better.

You're better off reading E.D. Hirsh or Diana Ravitch.
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