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Interview with John Taylor Gatto

You need experience, adventure, and explorations more than you need algebra!

- John Taylor Gatto

John Taylor Gatto is massively important to me. His book A Different Kind of Teacher shook me to the core, convincing me quit studying science in college and dive head-first into the world of alternative education.

In 2007 I first met John in person at a homeschooling conference, after which I enjoyed a few conversations over fax (his preferred communication tool). In 2010, at another homeschooling conference, we had a beer together. Every time I’ve interacted with the man I’ve more deeply admired his wit, humor, depth of knowledge, and passionate communication style.

In 2011 John suffered a stroke and retreated from the limelight. But as Pat Farenga reports, he’s now doing better, has a new website, and will re-release his massive Underground History of American Education later this year. (I appreciate Pat, Jerry Mintz, and Barb Lundgren for supporting John during his recovery, promoting his medical donation fund, and helping me communicate with him.)

After hearing of his recovery, I reached out to John to ask a few questions about his “guerrilla curriculum”—a term he coined to describe his method of providing a real education to his students as a NYC schoolteacher—as I’m currently deep in thought about how to structure my upcoming residential program for teens. He kindly wrote back, and I’m reposting his full response here. Continue Reading

What I’m Doing With My Life (Feb ’15)

Welcome to the February 2015 edition of What I’m Doing With My Life.
(Which happens to be the first and yet-only edition!)

Where I Am

South Lake Tahoe, California, where I’m house-/dog-/chicken-sitting for friends who are visiting Japan.

My friends Matt (human) and Lassen (canine) enjoying the Lake Tahoe winter

How I’m Feeling

Contemplative, a bit lost, in a transition zone, and full of potential. Continue Reading

Book Review: Excellent Sheep by William Deresiewicz

Excellent SheepIn a Nutshell

Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life is the best education book I’ve read in years.

Who Should Read It

  • Parents who want their kids to go to a selective college
  • Young adults who want to get into a selective college (or think they do now, at least!)
  • Anyone who is/was a “top performer” in their school or college
  • Anyone who has gone through the process of competitive college admissions
  • Anyone asking themselves how education plays a part in building a meaningful life

Continue Reading

“Where Do You Live?”

I get asked this a lot.

The truthful answer is: Everywhere and nowhere.

I’ve solidly embraced nomadism since finishing college in December 2004. Outside of a 2-year stay in Asheville, NC in 2012-13 (and even then I traveled often), I’ve haven’t lived in one place for more than 5 continuous months.

I keep a Google Spreadsheet to remember when and where I’ve lived different places.

Here’s the record since high school: Continue Reading