Posts in Public School Issues
My Friend, John Gatto

John Taylor Gatto, a famous schoolteacher and author, died last week. I knew him first as a writer and ally of unschooling, and eventually got to know him as a friend. John Gatto passed away on Oct. 25, 2018, and I want to share some of my memories of him. I took this photo of John in a dressing room at Carnegie Hall before he took the stage for his event, The Exhausted School.

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John Holt on Violence and the Democratic National Convention of 1968

August 28, 2018, is the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Though not present, John Holt supported the students and was highly critical of the police. John adds some thoughtful commentary and advice about being careful not to turn just anger into blind hate in this previously unpublished piece.

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Elders Impugn The Young After Gun Massacre

After news of the Parkland gun massacre came out, “Jack Kingston, a former United States representative from Georgia and a regular CNN commentator, asked, “Do we really think—and I say this sincerely—do we really think 17-year-olds on their own are going to plan a nationwide rally?” Why can’t we just support and encourage these young people in their single, clear goal of banning assault weapons instead of assimilating their effort into the conventional, adult-driven, conservative/liberal battle narrative?

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Our School Choice Is None

Now, there’s no doubt that homeschooling is a choice, but for me and other homeschoolers I know, it was not a choice of schools, it was a choice for our family to avoid the rat race of school: its busy work and pressure for labels, grades, class status, and homework. Our choice was not to go to school and to not turn our home into a school—and that’s a choice I never read about in the school choice literature . . .

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You Do Not Need a PhD to Look at a Child and to Think About What He is Doing

From John Holt's reply to Dr. Jerome Bruner's letter to the NY Review of Books: "The proper business of the intellectual is to make complicated ideas more simple, not simple ideas more complicated; to make the real world more comprehensible, not less so." Read more about this sharp exchange . . .

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Escaping the Education Caste System

Some Indian parents help their children cheat on exams to get ahead, and treat children harshly to make them study, in what they perceive as a dog-eat-dog world of education. Is conventional schooling the only way to help people learn and grow into good citizens?

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Unschooling and Social Change

Many educators grasp the importance of letting children learn through their own joy and passions, but almost none recommend that unschooling can be a sound way to do so. Even fewer dare to be education heretics and question why we need to box children into schools and how else they might learn and grow in today's world . . .

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The Protect Children Project

Empowering children to question authority and become active citizens rather than passive students is not high on the agendas of religious and educational institutions, since they consider physical and psychological punishments to be necessary components of their teaching processes. This is why I’m writing about the Protect Children Project—its primary purpose is to end corporal punishment in school—and they have declared May 15, 2014, as Protect Children Day.

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Parental Involvement with Children's Schoolwork is Overrated

"Most people, asked whether parental involvement benefits children academically, would say, “of course it does.” But evidence from our research suggests otherwise. In fact, most forms of parental involvement, like observing a child’s class, contacting a school about a child’s behavior, helping to decide a child’s high school courses, or helping a child with homework, do not improve student achievement. In some cases, they actually hinder it . . . "

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When Are Global Calls for Support from Homeschoolers Appropriate?

On a tactical level, it seems futile to think by signing an online petition about the laws of a country where I am not a citizen that I will somehow help shape that country’s laws. However, on a strategic level, I can see how all these actions are important and linked . . .

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The Insularity of School Research

People think research about the efficacy of schooling proves that our national well-being, personal advancement, and intellectual abilities are deeply connected to attending school. A new article argues that research about the efficacy of education is deeply flawed and prevents us from creating better solutions for helping children learn. . .

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