This collection of essays from educational liberty advocate John Taylor Gatto examines how the education system that we know today was created to advance government and corporate interests. In the book, Gatto explains how the contemporary education system is designed to train individuals against critical thinking, leading them to accept whatever is told to them by the government or media without taking further steps to investigate if it’s true or logical. Gatto says this is the result of conditioning of the mind that comes from compulsory schooling.
Gatto points out in the book how education used to be very different, and how before compulsory schooling was used, children were much more literate. In A Different Kind of Teacher, Gatto examines the difference between private and public (aka government-operated) education. Not only does Gatto examine the problems with contemporary public education in the book, however, he also lays out a plan of action for individuals and communities to change the system to one that doesn’t cater to government and economic interests. He encourages critical thinking on the individual level, and calls for changes made in the school system at the local level.
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 Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling 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.”
The New Agora Magazine:
“Each of one of us is inherently responsible for our own continuing education. When we pass that responsibility to the state, such as John Taylor Gatto has showed, we come to terms with the desolate fact of the public schooling system’s cataclysmic decline.”