August 21, 2008

I’ve not been this excited since I saw my academic heroes Chomsky and Finkelstein.  I picked up some A.S. Neill books in 2003 that changed my life and led to my looking at other sources on education.  Later I found John’s lectures online and have listened to at least 10-20 of them several times each.  I’m so glad he’s visiting and Scotland is in for a real treat.  He is a great thinker and a great moral actor.  He left the education system as he no longer wanted to hurt children and has since spent his time learning and teaching about the history of schooling in America (which has similar roots in Europe and Scotland).  For more information see his website, wikipedia page, check out previous entries in this blog or listen to the lecture below.

Scotland’s national home education support organisation Schoolhouse has announced it is to host a major conference in Arbroath, Angus, on Friday 12 September to mark International Freedom in Education Day 2008.  More on the Learning Without Limits Conference.

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Computer literacy better self-taught or schooled?

October 2, 2007

I heard a vice-president of IBM tell an audience of people assembled to redesign the process of teacher certification that in his opinion this country became computer-literate by self-teaching, not through any action of schools. He said 45 million people were comfortable with computers who had learned through dozens of non-systematic strategies, none of them very formal; if schools had pre-empted the right to teach computer use we would be in a horrible mess right now instead of leading the world in this literacy.

Probably most people working in IT learned most of what they know on their own.  Is it possible that creating fixed lessons could damage this enthusiasm?  I remember I was a huge technology geek, but found the Computer Studies standard grade so dull, I didn’t go on to do the Higher.  It was only later I returned to University to Study Computing and got very bored in the first year where compulsory classes explained what a mouse was.  The rest of the article is also very interesting, do we have the PhD because of a lost war?

The Public School Nightmare:
Why fix a system designed to destroy individual thought?
by John Taylor Gatto
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My Brilliant Brain: Make Me a Genius, episode 2

August 21, 2007

Can genius be taught?

This episode focuses on Susan Polgar, the first female chess grandmaster, whose incredible story suggests that genius does not always have to be innate, but can be taught.

Susan’s remarkable abilities have earned her the label of ‘genius’, but her psychologist father, László Polgar, believed that genius was “not born, but made”. Noting that even Mozart received tutelage from his father at a very early age, Polgar set about teaching chess to the five-year-old Susan after she happened upon a chess set in their home. “My father believed that the potential of children was not used optimally,” says Susan. (1)

“Schools, he says, are irremediably broken. Built to supply a mass-production economy with a docile workforce, they ask too little of children, and thereby drain youngsters of curiosity and autonomy.

…..the truth is that genius is an exceedingly common human quality, probably natural to most of us.

…[in education] We need to start from the cold-blooded premise that almost everyone is a genius — not that almost everyone is worthless.” John Taylor Gatto

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John Taylor Gatto – Classrooms of the Heart 1991

April 12, 2007

John Taylor Gatto uses alternative methods to inspire deprived children to enjoy education.  His secret – he hates “schooling” and ignores tests concentrating on preparing pupils for life.

J. T. Gatto interviewed by Lennart Mogren, Sweden, March 2003

April 12, 2007

John Taylor Gatto is a learned eloquent critic of the present school system all over the world. In this interview he exposes the hidden agenda that makes most of us hate school. I have written a book, “Sluta skolan!”, on my own experiences and views and I have come to the same conclusions as Mr Gatto has. He exposes the dark and terrifying machinery behind the scenes. Mr Gatto gíves us hope and tools to start dismantling this hideous institution. In my view parents need to get in charge of their kids’ education in new loving and nurturing ways. Mr Gatto is a great inspiration for those of us who realize this.