Sunday, August 1, 2010

John Taylor Gatto

I've just started reading the history of American Education.
It's very interesting and as usual John Taylor Gatto, argues some excellent points on why traditional schooling is failing, and more particularly why it was meant to fail.

A homeschool friend recently also forwarded to me an article by John Taylor Gatto, which included this excerpt.
One afternoon when I was
seven I complained to him of boredom, and he batted me hard on the
head. He told me that I was never to use that term in his presence
again, that if I was bored it was my fault and no one else's. The
obligation to amuse and instruct myself was entirely my own, and
people who didn't know that were childish people, to be avoided if
possible. Certainty not to be trusted. That episode cured me of
boredom forever, and here and there over the years I was able to
pass on the lesson to some remarkable student. For the most part,
however, I found it futile to challenge the official notion that
boredom and childishness were the natural state of affairs in the
classroom. Often I had to defy custom, and even bend the law, to
help kids break out of this trap.

I wouldn't have quite worded my thoughts of boredom in that manner, but something in the idea of boredom being an inappropriate behaviour makes sense. When we lived in Scotland the kids never said they were bored, it was not in their mentality. Then when we arrived back in Adelaide, quite a few people we knew started making comments about stuff being boring for them. I found that totally bizarre- why encourage the notion of boredom? So we decided to ban the word 'bored' from our house- on the basis that anyone who is bored, must actually be an uninteresting person, who is unable to entertain themselves and find their own interests. Generally speaking no-one even thinks about the idea anymore, fortunately.

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