You may not know his name but he fought for you and your children. On the battlefield of America’s public schools. His only interest was in the promotion of learning. What a concept.
Gatto was the teacher we needed. He will be missed and hard to replace.
Over the course of his career, Gatto was recognized by other educators for the rapport he had built with his students. While other teachers were spending much of their day on behavioral management issues, Gatto’s students were actively engaged in his lectures and genuinely excited about learning. When faculty members would come to him seeking advice, his prescription was simple: treat your students the same way you treat anyone else.
Above all, Gatto understood that his students were not mere underlings, but individuals with unique skills and talents to share with the rest of the world. They didn’t want to be talked down to but longed to be treated with respect and dignity. He recognized that their worth was not determined by the neighborhoods where they lived, their parents’ annual salaries, or the scores they received on standardized tests. He concluded that “genius,” is “as common as dirt. We suppress genius because we haven’t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.”
After three decades in the classroom, Gatto realized that the public school system was squashing individualism more than it was educating students and preparing them for the real world. To make matters worse, his later research would reveal that this dumbing down was not just by accident, but by design.
Upon his realization, he resigned in protest and in order to further the truth and freedom. We, now, must take up the work.