The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher

The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher, by John Taylor Gatto, New York State Teacher of the Year, 1991. (The first part of it is sarcastic. This man is speaking passionately of things he despises in the education system.)

The first lesson I teach is: “Stay in the class where you belong.” I don’t know who decides that my kids belong there but that’s not my business.

The second lesson I teach kids is to turn on and off like a light switch. I demand that they become totally involved in my lessons, jumping up and down in their seats with anticipation, competing vigorously with each other for my favor.

The third lesson I teach you is to surrender your will to a predestined chain of command. Rights may be granted or withheld, by authority, without appeal.

The fourth lesson I teach is that only I determine what curriculum you will study. (Rather, I enforce decisions transmitted by the people who pay me).

In lesson five I teach that your self-respect should depend on an observer’s measure of your worth. My kids are constantly evaluated and judged.

In lesson six I teach children that they are being watched. I keep each student under constant surveillance and so do my colleagues. There are no private spaces for children; there is no private time.

It is the great triumph of schooling that among even the best of my fellow teachers, and among even the best parents, there is only a small number who can imagine a different way to do things.

He concludes:

School is like starting life with a 12-year jail sentence in which bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it. I should know.

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  2. Sai Suren Kumar says:

    Nice one sir… there is only a small number who can imagine a different way to do things.