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 Post subject: A British John Taylor Gatto?
Post Number:#1  PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:02 pm 
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Has anybody written a detailed 'behind the scenes' history of the development of state schooling in Britain similar to what John Taylor Gatto wrote about state schooling in the US? A recurring criticism I have received about John Taylor Gatto's works is that it's American and much of it is therefore irrevelant to a British reader or prospective home educator. The stuff that's directly relevant to British readers is scattered throughout his works leaving the reader to have to traipse through lots of American historical material that isn't applicable to them.

My own experience is that when you have families who don't know much about HE, or are considering HE for reasons like bullying and SEN, they have a tendency to put down JTG as they cannot immediately relate what he has written about the American state school system to the British state school systems.

There was a time when I encountered a fantastic article about outsourcing IT jobs. It was written by an American for the US audience but 90% of it was equally applicable to Britain. When I circulated the original article reception of it was half hearted. After I modified the article slightly for the British scene - like changing US to UK; stripping out material only relevant to the US; and adding in a bit concerning matters peculiar to Britain, reception of it was much more positive.


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 Post subject: Re: A British John Taylor Gatto?
Post Number:#2  PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:24 pm 
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Location: Dorset
Are you trying to find a particular book or is a general history of British education what you are looking for?

Education England by David Gillard is the best website for a complete history of education in England from the 7th century to the present day. It contains the full texts of more than 420 important documents, including Reports, Official Papers and Acts of Parliament. A gold mine of information.

http://www.educationengland.org.uk/index.html


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 Post subject: Re: A British John Taylor Gatto?
Post Number:#3  PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 7:50 pm 
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Location: South of Hampshire
Learning without School: Home Education by Ross Mountney is probably the best British book about home education although it doesn't provide much in the way of the history state schooling in Britain.


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 Post subject: Re: A British John Taylor Gatto?
Post Number:#4  PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2014 10:02 pm 
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admin wrote:
Has anybody written a detailed 'behind the scenes' history of the development of state schooling in Britain similar to what John Taylor Gatto wrote about state schooling in the US?


Very good question. There doesn't appear to be a British equivalent of John Taylor Gatto or John Holt unless I have been looking in the wrong places.

Quote:
A recurring criticism I have received about John Taylor Gatto's works is that it's American and much of it is therefore irrevelant to a British reader or prospective home educator. The stuff that's directly relevant to British readers is scattered throughout his works leaving the reader to have to traipse through lots of American historical material that isn't applicable to them.

My own experience is that when you have families who don't know much about HE, or are considering HE for reasons like bullying and SEN, they have a tendency to put down JTG as they cannot immediately relate what he has written about the American state school system to the British state school systems.


I recommend Learning without School: Home Education by Ross Mountney as the first book for prospective home educators. It's a British book written by a former teacher in 2008 intended as practical handbook for parents who want to home educate their children. I find it very easy to understand and much more pragmatic than the works of Gatto or Holt, which often ventures into the deeper philosophy of schools and learning and the history of schooling, rather than providing immediately useful practical material and answers to many of the common queries of prospective home educators or those at the beginning of a home education journey. The book includes chapters about examinations and SEN, and a very impressive chapter about socialisation which shatters many of the myths that children need to attend school to socialise and that school is the best place for children to develop social skills. As Canopus has previously written, the book doesn't delve into the history of schooling in Britain because it's intended to be practical advice rather than an historical research based publication. My local Asperger support group has copies of the book that have been warmly and positively received even by parents who's children attend school. It's a definite must read book by all parents, and even children themselves.

I wouldn't discredit the American centric history in the works of Gatto and Holt. A surprisingly large amount of it from the 19th and early 20th century is just as relevant to British home educators or analysts of state schooling today as it is to Americans. It's just a bit more abstract and, like in the aforementioned article about outsourcing IT jobs, requires the reader to replace US with UK. The British state schooling systems come from the same Prussian ideology as the state school system in the United States and most other developed countries. One big difference between the British and American state school systems is the way that after the Great War they veered off in different directions until about 1988 when the National Curriculum was introduced. The American state school system went down the road of standardised curricula and tests that Gatto has written much about in great detail, whereas the British state school system went down the road of autonomy with no official tests prior to O Levels or CSEs other than the 11 plus. After 1988 with the introduction of the National Curriculum and frequent testing, the British and American state school systems moved closer to each other in concept.

I think that the works of Gatto and Holt are best deferred until one has finished reading Learning without School: Home Education. They are legendary stuff and definite must reads but the deeper philosophy and American centric nature of them often results in British parents who don't understand home education or are just starting out finding themselves thrown into the deep end in places.


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 Post subject: Re: A British John Taylor Gatto?
Post Number:#5  PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2014 8:53 am 
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Location: South of Hampshire
If a parent told me that they were only going to buy ONE book about HE then asked me for advice on which to buy, it would have to be Learning without School: Home Education.

It might just be my imagination...

The works of Gatto and Holt are more likely to appeal to parents who are either libertarians; do not want to replicate school at home with the same subjects and examinations; or were badly scarred by schools themselves, whereas parents who generally enjoyed school and experienced few big problems themselves but have kids with SEN or who are having a difficult time at school will probably find Learning without School: Home Education more reassuring.

What somebody needs to do is extract the very best and hardest hitting materials out of the works of Gatto and Holt then condense it down into a single easy to understand resource for parents. If I had more time I could make a start at it.


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