Unlikely Geniuses

John Taylor Gatto writes about the school system vs. the nontraditional learner

I’ve come to believe that genius is an exceedingly common human quality, probably natural to most of us. I didn’t want to accept that notion–far from it–my own training in two elite universities taught me that intelligence and talent distributed themselves economically over a bell curve and that human destiny, because of those mathematical, seemingly irrefutable, scientific facts, was as rigorously determined as John Calvin contended. The trouble was that the unlikeliest kids kept demonstrating to me at random moments so many of the hallmarks of human excellence–insight, wisdom, justice, resourcefulness, courage, originality–that I became confused. They didn’t do this often enough to make my teaching easy, but they did it often enough that I began to wonder, reluctantly, whether it was possible that being in school itself was what was dumbing them down. Was it possible I had been hired not to enlarge children’s power, but to diminish it? That seemed crazy on the face of it, but slowly I began to realize that the bells and the confinement, the crazy sequences, the age-segregation, the lack of privacy, the constant surveillance, and all the rest of the national curriculum of schooling were designed exactly as if someone had set out to prevent children from learning how to think and act, to coax them into addiction and dependent behavior.

Sidenote: Kudos to this educator for putting the book entirely online. I will certainly download this to my ebookwise reader.






One response to “Unlikely Geniuses”

  1. Challenging the Education Leviathan

    Robert Nagle blogs about John Taylor Gatto’s online book, An Underground History of American Education. The way Gatto rails against the public education system, you might never guess he was once New York State Teacher of the Year.