Posts Tagged Gatto

Classrooms of the heart

Recently looked for this in my bookmarks and discovered I hadn’t bookmarked it! So here it is. I watch this for clues as to what Gatto actually did in classrooms, his interaction with his students. He’s rather coy about the details in his books (probably to protect the innocent), and this is a good resource if you want to find out more about his teaching methods. (Other sources of specific information are in the 3-page chapter “A Year with John Taylor Gatto”, by a former student, Jamaal M. Watson, written when he was 13. It’s in “A Different Kind of Teacher”.)

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“Hours of idleness”

Pop quiz: how old would you say the writer of the following lines was?

In submitting to the public eye the following collection, I have not only to combat the difficulties that writers of verse generally encounter, but may incur the charge of presumption for obtruding myself on the world, when, without doubt, I might be, at my age, more usefully employed.

40? 50? OK, people don’t write like that any more. Still, when they DID write like that, how old would the writer be? No? Read on:

These productions are the fruits of the lighter hours of a young man who has lately completed his nineteenth year.

Preface to the first edition of “Hours of Idleness” by Lord Byron, first published in 1807.

What kind of education did he receive, to write like this at 19? With such confidence over multiple subordinate clauses? With such easy grace and self-deprecation which does not jar but rather charms? An education that included not only a great deal of reading (his preface is headed by three quotations from Horace (in the original Latin), from Homer (in the original Greek) and from Dryden), but also learning graceful good manners.

I admit I know nothing about Byron, other than that he was a poet, a ladies’ man,  an adventurer who spent some time gallivanting around southern Europe and the Near (possibly also Middle) East, who died young and swam the Bosphorus. Possibly not in that order. Read the rest of this entry »

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