Weapons of Mass Instruction (Part 3)

There are lots of little thought here and there that have gone through my mind while reading John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction.  The last one I will address in this post.  What kind of homeschooler would John Taylor Gatto be?

I couldn’t find very much personal information about John Taylor Gatto out there.  Most biographies just covered his professional life.  In his letter to his granddaughter in Chapter 9 of this book he briefly discusses his wedding day and the existence of his daughter, the child’s mother.  Since he was a school teacher for 30 years who tried to work within the system before deciding it was pointless, I assume that his daughter probably attended schools.  Therefore, while Gatto has immense respect for homeschoolers, he was probably never a full-time homeschooling parent himself.    So this makes me wonder what path Gatto would have chosen if his daughter’s education had been completely in his hands.

I definitely do not think that Gatto would have done “school-at-home” homeschooling.  After all, “school” is what he realized doesn’t work.  Would he have leaned towards Montessori or Charlotte Mason?  I don’t think he would have gone for Waldorff very much.  I think he would have been very suspect of another method coming out of Germany.  Something tells me that he would have probably used some sort of mix between Classical homeschooling and unschooling.

Gatto criticizes rote memorization several times in the book, and rote memorization is an important part of the first stage of Classical homeschooling.  But I think Gatto mainly worked with middle school and high school students, and much of his work seems to address the idea of adolescence.  I think he may have meant rote memorization that continues through all twelve years.  I think the Rhetoric stage of Classical homeschooling would have particularly appealed to his understanding of education.

However, I think the over-whelming structure of a strict Classical homeschooling program would have turned Gatto off.  I think Gatto would have wanted a child to have more time to “do” things and do things of personal interest rather than have to sit and study and follow someone else’s plans.  I can totally see Gatto embracing more child-led learning, especially in the teenage years.

I really wonder if anyone ever asked him about this.  The idea makes me want to dig through some of his other books and interviews to find out.  Of course, that’s if I can get through all the books I already had on my reading list before I added all of the ones he inspired me to read.  So many books…so little time.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Books, Homeschooling/Education

One Comment on “Weapons of Mass Instruction (Part 3)”

  1. Willa Says:

    I agree he probably could have gone with the “rhetoric” idea of expressing your individual gifts in the teenage years.

    I think he would have made sure that kids had plenty of “real world” experience in their younger years, so that their hands-on skill would develop along with their intellectual level.

    Great posts, I’ve been reading along, thanks Barbara!


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