While doing some research for a recent rant, I came across the following article by John Taylor Gotto.
by John Taylor Gatto
I TAUGHT FOR thirty years in some of the worst schools in Manhattan, and in some of the best, and during that time I became an expert in boredom. Boredom was everywhere in my world, and if you asked the kids, as I often did, why they felt so bored, they always gave the same answers: They said the work was stupid, that it made no sense, that they already knew it. They said they wanted to be doing something real, not just sitting around. They said teachers didn’t seem to know much about their subjects and clearly weren’t interested in learning more. And the kids were right: their teachers were every bit as bored as they were.
I spent twenty years in the classroom. What a silly place.
And, I hate the word silly. I never use it. Unless I am looking at academia.
In school, we punish kids for failing.
In life, we learn by failing.
One of my favorite quotes is by Richard Branson, founder of Virgin airlines:
“You don’t learn to walk by following the rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.”
In school, we are taught the exact opposite. We are taught to follow rules. Line up. Sit down. Raise your hand. Be quiet. Finish your paperwork (homework). Turn in your papers (homework).
Education needs a reminder. Here’s one from Theodore Roosevelt
“The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.”
Want to tick me off? Just tell me to line up. Tell me to sit down. Tell me to raise my hand. Tell me to be quiet. Tell me to turn in my paperwork. Tell me not to fail.
According to author Tony Buzan, “Learning how to learn is life’s most important skill.”
Oh, I don’t know. I think learning to duck is life’s most important skill. Helps you avoid stray gunfire.
Still, I understand what Mr. Buzan means.
I have been in the classroom for nearly 20 years.
I like to tell myself that I teach Latin and Greek.
Run into me on Main Street in downtown Franklin, Tennessee and that is what I will tell you when you ask about my work. “I teach Latin and Greek.”
The problem is, it isn’t true.
I am a manager. For the last 20 years, I have managed bathroom breaks, fights, meltdowns, drama, bathroom breaks, seating arrangements, grades, stolen pencils, bathroom breaks, arguments, door holders, line leaders, and, that’s right, bathroom breaks.
I am a professional nag. Stay in your seat. Raise your hand. Turn in your homework. Don’t take his pencil. Get your hands out of her hair. Do not sit on the table. Get out from under the table. Put the chair back down. Put your name on your paper. Keep your hands to yourself. Clean that up. Take your finger out of her ear. Do not glue the books to the table. Quit licking that.
Yes. I have had to say all of those sentences.
In a 45 minute class, I am willing to bet we spend 15 to 20 minutes talking about Latin or Greek.
In 2011, I started teaching online.
Ask me what I am doing online, and I will tell you. “I teach Latin and Greek.”
And, it’s true.
I have hundreds of students online. Overwhelmingly, my online students outperform any students I have ever taught. I have never seen anything like it.
Those who complete my Latin courses, and most do, are able to read the New Testament in Latin.
Those who complete my Greek courses, and many do not, are able to read the New Testament in Greek. (Greek is just hard. I try to warn people. It is just so stinking hard. But, that’s another post.)
I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the best thing you can do for your own education is to get out of school!
The physical classroom is a distraction. The online classroom is a learning laboratory.
Others are joining me. Or, maybe I am joining them. Either way, I am not alone in this conviction: http://nautil.us/issue/29/scaling/why-virtual-classes-can-be-better-than-real-ones
One final tip. If you are not self-disciplined, all I have written above may not apply. If youare self-disciplined, though, find a way out of the classroom.
Sir Walter Scott summed it up. “All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education.”
Have a fantastic weekend!
P.S. In 23 days I will be giving a three-week tour of the Harry Potter series.
That series is better than you think it is.
Harry Potter fan or no, you will not want to miss this
Natality: the birth rate.
In philosophy, natality is human innovation. Natality is the human ability to create new ideas out of nothing.
Natality comes from the French natalité, which derives from the Latin word natal. Natal means “birthday.”
Since today is my “natal” the word of the day is “Natality.”
Cognoscente: Someone possessing superior knowledge in a particular field, usually the arts; a connoisseur, an aficionado, a discerning expert.
I get the feeling a “cognoscente” is likely a member of the Illuminati of the art world. Or, based on modern art purchases, perhaps the “cognoscente” is simply a gullible person with a large checking account.
Cognoscente derives from its now obsolete Italian twin: cognoscente (now conoscente). Naturally, the Italian word comes from the Latin verb cognosco (I know).
The Latin cognosco comes from the Latin preposition con (with) and the Greek word γιγνώσκω (gignosko) meaning, “I know.”