Tuesday, January 17, 2006

FW: John Taylor Gatto (Sudbury School in Houston, Tx)

The Sudbury School in Houston invited John Taylor Gatto to speak.  Is anyone familiar with that school?  It is a parent created democratic school where the children plan what they are taught each week.  They don’t turn anyone away and they are in desperate need of donations.  http://www.houstonsudbury.org/


One thing that John Taylor Gatto said that stuck out was that, “short answer tests are making us dumb.”  He said that when parents and teachers say, “No thank you, I’d rather not” that maybe that is how we could make a difference?  When he said, “No thank you, I’d rather not” everyone started clapping and standing up.  So I assume that the audience was against testing.  This is Texas after all and most teachers hate having to teach to the test. 


“Short answer tests are making us dumb.”  John Taylor Gatto seemed to solve the mystery of WHY Public Schools were making America stupid.  It was like an answer to the problems exposed by John Stossel.  How can short answer tests make us stupid?  That wasn’t a ‘true’ or ‘false’ question so we will have to think about the answer and use sentences and discuss, disagree, explain and maybe change some as we learn.  Make our minds grow.  Oh, we are going to THINK!  See!  We will have to use our brains. 


Short answer tests don’t allow us to think.  Retrieving information isn’t thinking.  Recall isn’t thinking.  Being able to discuss, debate, and convince someone of your opinion is really thinking.  Working an idea out verbally or in writing is doing more for your brain than simply answering , “Do you think a short answer test accurately measures knowledge?  Yes or no?”  To think we need the “Why or why not” and the “But Tammy doesn’t agree let’s try harder to explain it or maybe we aren’t finished thinking it out….”  That’s thinking.  Now we can be “man-thinking” instead of “man parroting.”  (Someone find the latin words for those two terms LOL)


Why don’t we allow daily Socratic (?) teaching and discussion in schools?  Because there isn’t enough time in the day and real knowledge can’t be quickly evaluated.  In a room full of 22 students how can time be given for everyone to speak?  Short answer tests save time and can be graded quickly and the results seem to please everyone.  It’s like learning in a microwave, only thoughts are half baked and nothing was marinated.  YUCK  But there is no test created that can measure real learning – just retrieval.  A scantron machine can’t think so it has to be fed mindless answers.  Our fast food society has already come to the place where people want learning measured quickly and in a way that they can compare their children to others and say, “Look, he learned something, because it says so right here!” 


As Homeschoolers we have the perfect opportunity to do what WORKS in the long run and not get caught up in and not model our homes after a failing method of “education.” 


Here is another thing that John Taylor Gatto said that stuck out in my mind.  “The homeschooling movement is the greatest populist movement of the last 2 centuries.”  So, be encouraged!  or scared of rocking the boat? 


Public school?  “No thank you, I’d rather not.”  (the “no thank you I’d rather not” quote had a story about someone who ‘said it all the way to jail,’ so there is a bigger story there that I can’t RECALL.  Does anyone remember that?)





Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve. -Roger Lewin

Homeschool Victoria


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