Community and John Taylor Gatto

For many of us, the name John Taylor Gatto is synonymous with self-directed learning and unschooling.   One of the first books I read when I decided to homeschool was “Dumbing Us Down” .   For those of us in NYC, the fact that John was a public school teacher here in the city , knows the turf on which we spend our days and still lives here makes him even more a part of our lives as unschoolers, but his influence is undisputed & worldwide.

We are his community, and now he needs our help.

When it comes down to it, that’s what community is all about, in my opinion.

Somewhere in one of my family’s photo albums there is a picture, taken at least 60 years ago of an Indiana cornfield at harvest time.   The photo shows the width of the field and, crossing it in a staggered row, five or six combines, harvesting all of the corn in one fell swoop; a task that would take one combine the better part of a day to complete by itself.  My Dad remembers when all the farmers would come together to assist each other in the harvest, moving from farm to farm and making the work easier for all.

That type of thing doesn’t happen any more, but farm communities like the one in which I grew up still come together in times of need.  Several years ago my cousin John (Niemoeller, not Gatto) was severely injured when the tire of a semi tractor-trailer blew out in his face while he was working on it.   He was air-lifted to a hospital in Indianapolis and underwent months of physical therapy.   As soon as word of his injury got around, offers of help poured in; farmers offering to help with the harvest, the daily farm work, etc.

Farm communities tend to be localized, tied together by a common geography  and often a common history.  Most of the families in my home county who farm have done so for generations.

Our unschooling community is tied together, not so much by geography (although almost all of us do have a local community of fellow radicals) or by a long history, but rather by a common belief about how learning happens.  We are spread out all over the country and the world, and yet we are a community in the true sense of the word.  Whenever I have needed support, or comfort or feedback, my online unschooling neighbors are always there for me.   So when Jerry Mintz of AERO sent out his weekly newsletter, asking the alt-ed community to rally around John Gatto and raise money to help pay for his physical therapy (needed after the two strokes John suffered this past year), it was an easy call to spread the word to my little corner of the community.  That’s what neighbors do.

Please help if you can.  The link to the AERO fundraising page is here.

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