John T. Gatto Video: Weapons of Mass Instruction

I've added this speech by John Taylor Gatto because it is, like all of John's work, an impassioned and intelligent contrarian presentation about modern education. In particular, this speech shows how people can be the architects of their lives without manipulation by education systems and why this is desirable.

John's work as a classroom teacher, like John Holt's work in the classroom, forced him to question what he was doing because he realized the more he taught, the less the children learned. When John Gatto learned to approach each child's education as a unique endeavor rather than as standard school operating procedure, he also gained an appreciation for the role of the family, community, and homeschooling that he did not have earlier in his teaching career.

John and I first met in 1991 when he was thinking about quitting school after being named New York State Teacher of the Year; his acceptance speech for that award concluded with a statement that educators should be studying homeschooling to understand how education needs to be changed (you can read that speech, The Psychopathic School, in Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling ). A mutual friend put us in touch, and John and I have been friends, and worked together, ever since. Of course, John Gatto did quit teaching and went on to write several controversial books (The Underground History of American Education: A School Teacher's Intimate Investigation Into the Problem of Modern Schooling), and his support for homeschooling, unschooling, and self-directed learning of all sorts has never wavered.

In 2005 I put on The Learning In Our Own Way conference, with John Gatto and Dr. Thomas Armstrong as my keynote presenters. John Gatto's speech, Weapons of Mass Destruction, made its debut at the conference (or so John says; I suspect he was using bits of it in other talks) and it later became the basis and title for his book Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher's Journey through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling).