A Different Kind of Teacher
by John Taylor Gatto
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Readers' Praise for John Gatto's A Different Kind of Teacher
 
"Gatto is an inspiring author and teacher... He probes for solutions to difficult educational problems with an eye to how things are, how they could be, and what needs to be done to reach new goals. This volume is an eye opening to those inside and out of education. Recommended at all levels." - CHOICE
 
"Provocative, stimulating, evocative, and consistent: such is this collection of comments clarifying the ills of American public education and ideas for solving them .... Written in an informative, easy-to-understand, and prophetic style, this work nicely complements Gatto's other titles." - Library Journal
 

"I happen to agree with damn near every semi-colon and comma that Mr. Gatto has written" - Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence and The Brand New You

 
"Exceptional !!!!" (2001 "Best Read" selection) - Today's Books
 
"John Gatto's writing is like a Jackson Pollock painting - a streak of history here, a splash of humor there, three drops of statistics. Every sentence is filled with passion. You have to work hard to understand what John Gatto is getting at, but the reward is an invitation to an endless adventure; the search for meaning in life' - Education Revolution
Introduction
 
On July 25, 1991 The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed contribution from a veteran Manhattan public school teacher, John Taylor Gatto. The short, passionate essay, "I May Be a Teacher But I'm Not an Educator," written by a man recently named New York State Teacher of the Year and, for the third consecutive time, New York City Teacher of the Year, grabbed the attention of disillusioned parents, students, and teachers across the country, while serving as a shot across the bow for educational functionaries locked in the inertia of mediocrity.
 
Shortly after publication of this essay, Gatto resigned from his position as a seventh grade teacher at Booker T. Washington School on W. 107th Street, and in the decade since has been among the country's most penetrating, wise, irritating, informed, provocative, and prophetic voices in the fierce debate over education reform. His earlier book, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling,his dozens of published essays, and the hundreds of talks he has given - from The White House to homeschool coffee hours; from Bath, Maine to Beijing - have had a profound influence on the reinvention of our schools, and on the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of school children.
 
A Different Kind of Teacher brings together sixteen key essays and speeches produced by Gatto between 1990 and 1999. "Part One: Schoolrooms Speak Bluntly" includes three pieces written while he was still an active classroom teacher, and a short article written by one of his students, offering a glimpse at how Gatto translated his theories of education into the school setting. These writings, and the contexts in which they were presented, show the essence of Gatto's ideas on teaching practice, the real-world situations in which they were forged, and some of the institutional opposition one inevitably faces in implementing them.
 
"Part Two: Analyzing the System" includes seven papers written in the period after Gatto's resignation from public school teaching. They represent a critique of American schooling, filled with insights gleaned from three decades in the classroom combined with years of research into the history and philosophy of Western education. Although most readers will find his discoveries disturbing, the information Gatto has compiled here is arguably indispensable for understanding and repairing the pedagogical traditions we have inherited.
 
One essay in this section: "Horatio Alger's Country: The Mysterious Origins ofAmerican Adoption," may at first glance appear to stray from the central subject of this collection. The relevance of this historical rumination, however, will be apparent to those who read it with the same openness and curiosity that Gatto brought to writing it.
 
"Part Three: The Search for Meaning" describes some of the results of Gatto's search for the purposes and goals of education and life. Although this section comes last in the book, the effort it records comes first in any serious exploration of what and how we teach our children. The conclusions Gatto arrives at will ring profoundly true with many. To others, they might at least show the way to find one?s own contrary answers.
 
Although A Different Kind of Teacher is divided into three parts, each piece is driven by a similar search for solutions to difficult problems. Ideas and examples recur in new contexts that illuminate fresh perspectives. This book will have served its purpose if it functions like the best conversations, as Gatto describes them - if it helps readers to see more dearly what the American system of education really is, what it ought to be, and what steps can be taken to reach that goal.
 
The publishers would like to thank Tom Whelan for first bringing John Gatto's work into our sights; Jerry Brown, whose broadcast conversation with Mr. Gatto a few years ago convinced us of the power of his ideas; and Barbara Whiteside, without whose encouragement this book would never have happened.