Posts Tagged ‘Homeschooling’

John Taylor Gatto

In the realm of educators, John Taylor Gatto is somewhat of an anomaly. He was a New York City school teacher for thirty years. Over his career he earned many distinctive accolades including New York City, and State School Teacher of the Year many times. What is different about Gatto is obvious if you have read any of his  books and essays published over the years. He feels we need less schooling, and real choices in how we educate our children.

I am a huge fan of his, and with each of his books  I read, I am more convinced that our decision to home school our children is the right one.


Recently I picked up Dumbing us Down, The Exausted School and I have just finished reading  A Different Kind of Teacher. The latter is a perfect description of John Gatto. His ideas and appreciation of what young people are capable of is an affirmation of what I have always believed.

Genius is an exceedingly common human trait..”

In A different kind of Teacher Gatto asks just how public are our public schools?

He writes;

I feel ashamed that so many of us can not imagine a better way to do things than locking children up all day in cells instead of letting them grow up knowing their families, mingling with the world, assuming real obligations, striving to be independent and self-reliant and free

He goes into great depths writing about what the true history of compulsory schooling actually is.  Do people know they have a choice? The hows and whys of  “public schooling” is an education in itself.

The oppressive influence of Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, and their determination to build an efficient industrial state, led them to a plan to systematize the rearing of the young.

“At the core of this social strategy was the removal of important decisions from the familial and individual control and their reassignment to the legion of specialists.”

Without personal command over time and without the rights to associate freely with others and to speak freely, life begins to lose its meaning.”

“.. important life choices are not the proper province of any professional establishment

Whole people resist being told what to do and so are natural enemies of schooling

Gatto encourages people to seek the truth, for themselves and their children. He asserts that schools are not designed to encourage independent thought, creative or scientific minds. Look at history and you can plainly see that the school system is not broken, it is functioning exactly as it was designed to. The real problem is that we have surpassed the old design and need a new model to overcome the society of mindless consumption and bankrupt morality that persists in the west today.

To be free you need to celebrate your own history, humble and tormented as it might be, and the history of your own parents and grandparents, howsoever that history be marked by scars and mistakes. It is the only history you will ever have; reject it and you reject yourself.”

Live free or you won’t really be alive at all.”

Originally published November 2009

~call of the wild~



Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.  ~Kahlil Gibran

As you are


One day not too long ago I was walking past the local elementary school and noticed something in the tree. It was a wooden sign nailed on the tree that read “AS YOU ARE”

I looked at the other tree’s around me and noticed something, more signs, they all included messages. Who were they intended for? Who put them there? It turns out that these questions don’t really matter. The only thing that matters was that I saw them, other people saw them and will see them.

These messages are for everyone.

They read; “AS YOU ARE”






What better message to give or receive?







(Originally posted January 13 2009, some things are worth repeating)

Another day in paradise / making a difference

I wonder what difference one person can make.  I often feel overwhelmed when I read stories about what is actually going on in this world. I have kept this site mostly about issues that affect the environment, some resources links and some images and quotes that I like but I want to do more.

I am starting a new chapter at URBNgreen. how about URBN awakened? is that a word?

I want to share positive things that have happened and continue to happen. As you can see I recently posted a picture of the new president elect, Barack Obama. I feel like with his election to the position of the “most powerful man in the world” that there is change in the air and what better time then now to be a part of the change we want to happen.

What does the American political scene have to do with me?  a Canadian woman, well I don’t know yet. My grandmother always told me to stay out of politics. I think i always felt drawn to make a change or be a part of something bigger then I am.  Instead of the politics I have chosen to live a private life, and an alternate life to many people.

In many ways I am very typical. I am married and have two children.  I run my own business, volunteer, cook dinner for my family every night and generally live a typical domestic life.  On the surface it may appear that I am just like so many others out there, except there is a difference, at nine o’clock when the school bell rings my ten year old son is not running across the street to the school, but probably sitting in his pajamas reading a book or playing with his little sister, happily! 

We homeschool and have for five years.  I am my son’s teacher, but he is also my teacher. Our days are busy most of the time with classes, field trips and playdates.  We do have some days when we are working at the kitchen table with workbooks and researching at the library or online. Some days we are out at the beach or in the forest, or running errands.  The kids and I volunteer every week, this is an opportunity for us to give something back to the community and feel the satisfaction of  helping others.

We try to incorporate a  mind body connection in our daily routine, this may happen through sports, dance, karate, or Tai Chi, and even just by walking to our destinations. ( we don’t own a car).  We try to eat consciously by buying organic and locally grown food, eating low on the food chain, a mostly plant based diet, and recycling our leftovers to our worm composter. These are small choices, but they make a difference in our lives and consequently in the lives of others, ( the animals we are not eating, the farmers we support, the less waste to the landfill, not contributing to the auto industry. it actually seems like a lot when i look at this way )

We are by far not perfect and don’t claim to have all the answers to the mysteries of life, but we are living this life together and happily existing in this beautiful city and country.

I started this post talking about what one person can do to make a change in the world and surprisingly I talked only about what I am doing in my family. Maybe that was my point today. We have the power to choose each day how our lives will be. Each day is full of potential and we can choose to create what we want in this life.

I read a quote recently that I can not agree with more.

Loving people live in a loving world. Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world.   Dyer, Wayne

Instead of Education

John Holt quote passage is from Instead of Education:

Next to the right to life itself, the most fundamental of all human rights is the right to control our own minds and thoughts. That means, the right to decide for ourselves how we will explore the world around us, think about our own and other persons’ experiences, and find and make the meaning of our own lives. Whoever takes that right away from us, as the educators do, attacks the very center of our being and does us a most profound and lasting injury. He tells us, in effect, that we cannot be trusted even to think, that for all our lives we must depend on others to tell us the meaning of our world and our lives, and that any meaning we may make for ourselves, out of our own experience, has no value.”

On children’s rights and position in society:

On children’s rights and position in society:

Escape From Childhood: The Needs and Rights of Children published by Dutton in 1974.

From page 1:

This is a book about young people and their place, or lack of place, in modern society. It is about the institution of modern childhood, the attitudes, customs, and laws that define and locate children in modern life and determine to a large degree what their lives are like and how we, their elders, treat them. And it is about the many ways in which modern childhood seems to me to be bad for most of those who live within it and how it should and might be changed.For a long time it never occurred to me to question this institution. Only in recent years did I begin to wonder whether there might be other or better ways for young people to live. By now I have come to feel that the fact of being a “child,” of being wholly subservient and dependent, of being seen by older people as a mixture of expensive nuisance, slave, and superpet, does most young people more harm than good.

I propose instead that the rights, privileges, duties, responsibilities of adults citizens be made *available* to any young person, of whatever age, who wants to make use of them. These would include, among others:

  • 1. The right to equal treatment a the hands of the law- ie., the right, in any situation, to be treated no worse than an adult would be.
  • 2. The right to vote, and take full part in political affairs.
  • 3. The right to be legally responsible for one’s life and acts.
  • 4. The right to work, for money.
  • 5. The right to privacy.
  • 6. The right to financial independence and responsibility-ie., the right to own, buy, and sell property, to borrow money, establish credit, sign contracts, etc.
  • 7. The right to direct and manage one’s own education.
  • 8. The right to travel, to live away from home, to choose or make one’s own home.
  • 9. The right to receive from the state whatever minimum income it may guarantee to adults citizens.
  • 10. The right to make and enter into, on basis of mutual consent, quasi-familial relationships outside one’s immediate family-ie., the right to seek and choose guardians other than one’s own parents and to be legally dependent on them.
  • 11. The right to do, in general, what any adult may legally do.
  • end of John Holt passage

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    delicate little plant in need of freedom. Einstein quote at