You hear people in the school business often talk about 'making a difference. I showed John Taylor Gatto's 'Classrooms of the Heart' a few days ago as an assignment, and the message from it not only resonated with this 12th grader, it has changed her life. She sees the school system for what it is and will pass that knowledge down.
Here's the response I got:
"This video assignment came at a perfect time for me. Currently, I am in the process of analyzing myself; who I am, who I want to be, and where I want to go. I realized that this was necessary during this corona virus era where I actually have time to think! I have learned more about myself during this quarantine period than ever before. One factor that has contributed to the prevention of listening to my own thoughts was school. Closing public schools and doing school work from home has allowed for me to think my own thoughts; instead of listening to the thoughts of others, and being told how to do things.
Although it is tragic what is going on with the pandemic, I am grateful to have the time to finally analyze/understand myself; something that I had never been able to do in seventeen years. Before this, I was living solely to do what others told me to do: homework assignments, deadlines, tests etc. This was how life was for me ever since I started school. Never once did I have time to think for myself. This is simply because the school system does not allow for you to have your own thoughts or opinions. Instead your own thoughts get clouded and are replaced with rules, regulations, and school procedures. However, after being blessed with this time to think for myself I had a realization; I don’t want to go back to the way I was thinking before, and changes will be made.
One of the quotes that really left a mark on me from viewing this documentary was: “Self-knowledge requires long periods of privacy, long periods of testing who you are, what your limits are, this can’t take place while someone is filling your time with orders or tests”. I felt emotional when I heard him say this because he put into words what I felt had been missing from my educational experience. It all became clear to me. I admire how Mr. Gatto listens to his students, and who they are. This is one of the factors missing in public school teachers. Many teachers believe that students are in a classroom solely to sit and listen to them go on and on, and students believe the same thing because that is how they have been wired.
A second quote that impacted me was when Mr. Gatto said “One of the worst things about these schools is that they don’t ever give students time to think". I agree. Students don't know any better than to sit and listen to a teacher because that is "correct" in a school environment. After viewing this video, I proposed to myself that I will change that about myself, because now I understand that my thoughts and feelings are valid, and that I should never be told that they are not. Now I understand that when someone discourages you from voicing your thoughts or clouds them with other information, they are trying to keep you down so that you become like the rest of society; wired. After viewing this video, I wish I would have been in Mr. Gatto's class or would have received this information in eighth grade, but it’s better late than never. I am definitely saving this video for my children in the future, thank you Mr. Marolla for sharing this gem."
I responded with this:
"You are very welcome. I'm glad we spoke and I'm happy that you were able to distill the main idea that you need a time for quiet thought. Comfort and confidence in ourselves is the key to inner peace and a fulfilling life. School gets in the way. There's a reason they had to force it on a people, in an America that was fiercely independent. Few realize what you've realized. You are unique in seeing what you see."
John Taylor Gatto's legacy continues.