JTG-Continually Relevant

john taylor gatto

John Taylor Gatto, was a creative, a thinker, a visionary, and a whistle-blower who challenged us to examine our current academic paradigm.  He passed away last week at the age of 82.  His legacy and spirit live on in his works, including many books, articles, and speeches.

For this week’s class we read the thought-provoking essay titled, The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher.  Although it was originally published in 1991, the themes he discusses are still concerning 27 years later.  Why is that?  In fact, it feels like things have only gotten worse.  Additionally, why do his thoughts feel so controversial and how come so many people have a hard time discussing his points?  JTG coats his lessons in sarcasm, yet they are no easier to swallow.

His writings hit me deeply for a number of reasons, mostly related to feelings of helplessness and hopefulness, and to move out of that space, I find it helpful to dig a little deeper.  By starting to ask “why” things are the way they are, and sitting with the questions, I may be able to help move toward a solution.


Below is an intriguing, animated video where John Taylor Gatto dives deeper into the Six Purposes of Modern Schooling, which ultimately result in teachers teaching the “Six Lessons” we read about for our class.

What about you?  What questions are you sitting with after reading the article and/or watching the video?

More on JTG’s life and his work can be found on his website.


School vision and mission statements and moonshot thinking

The Moonshot Thinking video that we watched for class is all about casting away fears and doubts and focusing on possibility. In other words, it’s about getting away from the ‘yes buts’ and instead asking ‘why not?’ and ‘how can we?’ When we do that, we can accomplish great things.

Do our school vision and mission statements reflect this sense of possibility? In her blog post yesterday, May asked how we get beyond the buzzwords and educational jargon when we create these statements. I’m curious how we also make these statements drivers of possibility that energize school communities to move forward in needed directions. Thoughts?

Words To Use or Not to Use?

Last night sparked some great conversation around a school’s mission & vision statement and their relevance to moving the work forward. I personally loved hearing Kristina MacBury talk about beginning each year with revisiting the mission & vision to see if they still align with the beliefs and values of the school. It led me to wonder though, how do we create mission and vision statements that are meaningful, worthy of the day-to-day work, without OVER-utilizing the current buzzwords in education? Perhaps, is it okay that words such as “life-long learner”, “21st century learners”, …etc are alive in many of our mission and vision statements? Might it be a balancing act? Jeffco11, I’d love to hear your thoughts!