Friday, 9 July 2010

Thought you might like...

Some John Taylor Gatto.

From my friend's kindly lent book, 'Weapons of Mass Instruction'. Thank you, I, for parting with it, entrusting it to me and letting me read it.

'Weapons of Mass Instruction' will blow your mind while making you cry. It is such a relief to read John Taylor Gatto's complete and utter understanding of what school is and what it is meant to do and the damage it can cause.

"School is about learning to wait your turn, however long it takes to come, if ever. And how to submit with a show of enthusiasm to the judgment of strangers, even if they are wrong, even if your enthusiasm is phony." p. 62

We're so well-mannered, aren't we? Waiting, just waiting to have our ship come in, to hop on the show boat of life, bolstered up by the Cheryl Coles of this world who happen to hit big paydirt. Yet not everyone can hit the bigtime. There isn't enough big time to go around. It's a falseness like the enthusiasm with which you fooled your teachers that you felt for their classes (if you bothered).

School teaches you to wait in line for something you're told will happen if you're good, if you behave, if you toe the line. Something that doesn't happen for most people, can never happen because there is no something to drop into the palm of your hand, even if you've laboured all your life.

You wait because that's how you were taught. We are all Englishmen and women here. We don't push to the head of the queue. We don't grab opportunities or chances because we are silently standing waiting for the right time to be told to start. The opportune moment.

We'll always be waiting.

It's a farce.

Those who refuse to wait, who go and do, who dive in; the ones who get in are the ones who get on.

Entrepreneurial. Business-like. Positive. Thrusting. Puissant. Go-getters. High flyers.

School teaches you to wait.

Home education teaches you to carpe diem, seize the moment, grab the big fish with both your outstretched hands. It instructs you in doing because you do for yourself and, in doing for yourself, it causes you to verify that your enthusiasm is genuine.

At the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2010, fifteen year old James Callicott is the youngest designer to participate. He's already designed gardens for family and friends. James is home educated, and he is seizing the day.

James is a bright, young thing according to the Telegraph. An escapee from school, he has the time to concentrate on his designs and sees himself 'doing questioning gardens'. Severely dyslexic, he learned to read gardening magazines because he was interested, and otherwise he watered the strawberries in his own garden and, generally, pottered around.

I can't see James waiting in line for permission to start his life and no one is forcing him down a road he finds dusty, empty and barren.

Home education - seizing the day.


  1. Favorite Gatto quote (at least of the moment):

    "Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges; it should allow you to find values which will be your road map through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die."

  2. I love the post Danae (would you mind if I linked to it from FB - understand if not) and love the quote Deb.x

  3. I love it and I linked to it on Twitter and I can never get enough Gatto. ~Cheryl

  4. Deb, thanks so much for that delightful quotation from our wonderful John Taylor Gatto.

    Lynn, please do link.

    Cheryl, I think that John Taylor Gatto cannot be heard too often by too many people.

  5. Speaking of 'hearing' we did an interview for our radio show with Gatto a few years back. Actually we did a 3 part series- he talked for so long. And boy! What what a thrilling conversation!
    You can still hear the shows at

  6. That was well thought out Danae.
    I am seeing the "wait until told" approach to life in my older children's friends. It's driving my dd crazy.
    They are all good intelligent people but they can't organise anything, grab at opportunities unless either an older adult does it for them or, as is more often the case my daughter does it for them.
    The lack of initiative is almost ingrained.
    On a similar front my son ended up as leader of a project for a car firm during college time (a live brief they call it).
    He was shocked at how ill prepared most of the group were for approaching business. Some of them didn't even finish the work.
    After all those years at school some of the students didn't even know how to make eye contact and shake hands!

  7. Have been avoiding internet, but it was so nice to catch up on your blog. Still wonderful.