In a reply to one of my prior posts, in which I talked of considering homeschooling and being afraid of the unknown, you directed me to www.johntaylorgatto.com
, where I am reading his book, bit by bit, online.
Thank you thank you. You have no idea what you just set into motion in my life. I feel like fireworks just went off on my desktop!
I am a "failed" educator, having been not rehired for my tenure year last spring, after 2 years of rave reviews from students, parents and colleagues. Why? My principal felt I "lost my focus" after having my daughter. I also didn't conform enough to her cookie cutter mold of an authoritarian teacher... I didn't care enough about grades and cared more about building self-esteem and sense of self in my classroom (I am actually shaking with rage as I recount this and type my story). For almost a full year, I felt like a failure. My principal made me feel like a failure. I just couldn't fall into lock step well enough. I felt like I was 6 years old again, when my first grade teacher drew the entire attention of the class to me when I wet my pants, afraid to ask to go to the bathroom. That moment is seared into my brain, and I can remember it in vivid detail with horror. The feeling comes tumbling back over me. I guess I never followed the rules very well. I always suspected, even though I loved working with the kids, that there was a lot of problematic rhetoric built into public education. So much "just shut up and take it." I couldn't understand the arbitrary rules as a student, even as a professional teacher. It seemed like the most successful teachers were the ones who fit the mold the best. That's what we've been trained to do. This book makes so much sense and speaks so loudly and truly to my heart, it is painful! I have been so trained into the system, I never even questioned it.
I had colleagues, friends (good people), who mocked parents behind their backs and shunned any parent participation as being to much of a pain, even while I had an open invitation to my students' parents to come in any time.
Why would I ship my daughter off to a place I don't know, where I have no control over what is happening to her all day (and neither does she), and am not really welcome , while she is taught to sit straight with a smile, raise her hand and ask permission to get out of her seat (all necessary to maintain order in a classroom, I agree... but not something I wish to force my child into doing!) Most parents don't even know what their kid is up to all day. "How was school honey?" "Fine. Now were's my iPod and my PSP?"
Some of you who already all knew this must be smiling right now as you read. I feel like I just hatched.