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exhausted school

The Exhausted School: Bending the Bars of Traditional Education

Another genius work from John Taylor Gatto, making a strong case for educational liberty. The book is a collection of thirteen essays written by award-winning teachers and their students, which were presented at the 1993 National Grassroots Speakout on the Right to School Choice. The essays outline how the reforms being made to the educational system actually work, and what kind of impact they are likely to have. Also included in the essays are successful teaching methods which can be used in both traditional and non-traditional classroom settings.

In the book, Gatto, who is a huge proponent for strengthening the role of family in a child’s life, warns against potentially harmful school reforms such as creating longer school days to relieve parents of the “burden” of their child. Another possible reform that Gatto warns against in the book is getting rid of summer holidays and keeping schools open year-round. In The Exhausted School, Gatto stands up against the conformity and systematization that the contemporary school system is trying to force upon students which removes individuality and damages the family.

About the Author

John Taylor Gatto was born in on December 15, 1935, in Monongahela, Pennsylvania. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Pittsburgh, as well as Cornell and Columbia in New York. Gatto then served in the U.S. Army medical corps at Fort Knox, Kentucky and Fort Houston, Texas. After his military service, Gatto completed graduate work at the City University of New York, Hunter College, Yeshiva, the University of California, and Cornell.

Before and during Gatto’s teaching career, he served in various other occupations, many of which involved writing. He wrote scripts for the film business, wrote for advertising, was an ASCAP songwriter, and eventually founded Lava Mt. Records, which is an award-winning documentary record producer. Gatto’s record company has completed a variety of big-name projects, including presentations of speeches from Richard M. Nixon and Spiro Agnew.

Gatto’s teaching career garnered him quite a few awards. He was named New York City Teacher of the Year three times, and then held the title of New York State Teacher of the Year. After leaving his teaching career after 30 years, telling the Wall Street Journal that he was “no longer willing to hurt children,” he moved on to become a much-sought-after public speaker on the topic of school reform. His speaking engagements took him across all 50 states in the U.S., and to seven foreign countries.

Gatto had also recieved other awards, such as the Alexis de Tocqueville Award for his contributions to the cause of liberty. From 1996 on, he has been included in the Who’s Who in America. He has authored a handful of other books, including A Different Kind of Teacher and The Underground History of American Education.

Gatto passed away on October 25, 2018. His obituary on the website for the Foundation for Economic Education stated that after three decades in the classroom, “Gatto dedicated the rest of his life to repairing the damage done by the public education system.”


Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul:

“Gatto’s voice is strong and unique.”

children's education, children's mental health, john taylor gatto, school reform, school system, traditional education