John Gatto’s Seven-Lesson School Teacher

I wish to list the seven lessons in Gatto’s excellent paper.  Now, Gatto’s case is certainly not one of sour grapes because he won the award for the outstanding school teacher in New York State, regardless of the meaninglessness of the award.  I, for one, never noticed his seven points while I was in school; so, I was a victim, which accounts for some of the brainwashing performed upon myself, which, by the way, has taken decades to overcome, if, indeed, I have overcome it yet.

Lesson 1 (Confusion).  Everything is taught out of context – disconnected facts rather than meaning.

Lesson 2 (Class position).  Students are numbered in more ways than ever before.

Lesson 3 (Indifference).  When the bell rings, we drop whatever it is we were learning as if it had no more importance than a discussion on the “Larry King Show” when a commercial break is due.

Lesson 4 (Emotional dependency).  “By stars and red checks, smiles and frowns, honors and disgraces, I teach you to surrender your will to the chain of command.”  Students are hostages to good behavior.

Lesson 5 (Intellectual dependency).  “Successful children do the thinking I appoint them with a minimum of resistance and a decent show of enthusiasm. ... Curiosity has no important place in my work, only conformity. ... Good people wait for an expert to tell them what to do. ... [O]ur entire economy depends on this lesson being learned.”

Lesson 6 (Provisional self-esteem).  “I teach that your self-respect should depend upon expert opinion. ... People must be told what they are worth.”

Lesson 7 (You can’t hide).  There is no private time.  Schedules are designed to prevent fraternization.  Homework extends constant surveillance into the home even.  “The meaning of constant surveillance and denial of privacy is that no one can be trusted, that privacy is not legitimate.”