John Taylor Gatto (born December 15, 1935) is an American
author and former school teacher who taught in the classroom
for nearly 30 years. He devoted much of his energy to his
teaching career, then, following his resignation, authored
several books on modern education, criticizing its ideology,
history, and consequences. He is best known for the
underground classic Dumbing Us Down: the Hidden Curriculum
of Compulsory Schooling, and The Underground History of
American Education: A Schoolteacher’s Intimate Investigation
Into the Problem of Modern Schooling, which is sometimes
considered to be his magnum opus. He was named New York City
Teacher of the Year in 1989, 1990, and 1991, and New York
State Teacher of the Year in 1991.
In 1991, he wrote a letter announcing his retirement, titled
I Quit, I Think, (read text in full at the bottom of this
page), to the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, saying
that he no longer wished to "hurt kids to make a living." He
then began a public speaking and writing career, and has
received several awards from libertarian organizations,
including the Alexis de Tocqueville Award for Excellence in
Advancement of Educational Freedom in 1997. He promotes
homeschooling, and specifically unschooling and open source
I consider this man to be the "Father of home education"
his thoughts about homeschooling solidified my thinking
about the inadequacies of the public school system in the
United States. A system which I totally rejected at age
15....read my story at the bottom of this page. Although Gatto
is certainly not the originator of the philosophy of home
education, he brought the idea to a whole new level in a
secular context, and made the public aware of the damaging
effects of schools. Here is a
man who devoted his entire career to teaching in public
schools, only to realize his efforts were not only useless, but
actually detrimental to the students he had taught.....a
tough pill to swallow for anyone. His views on public
education are right on, and only those of us who were not
sufficiently brainwashed into thinking public schools are
the only way, can see why home education is, and always will
be, the best path to a fulfilling and happy life.
is home education?
Home education (also called homeschooling, homeschool or
home learning) is the education of children at home,
typically by parents or professional tutors, rather than in
a public or private school. Before the introduction of
compulsory school attendance laws, most childhood education
occurred within the family or community, home education in
the modern sense is an alternative in developed countries to
In many places home education is a legal option for parents who wish to provide
their children with a different learning environment than exists in nearby
schools. The motivations for home education range from a dissatisfaction with
the schools in their area to the desire for better academic test results. It is
also an alternative for families living in isolated rural locations and those
who choose, for practical or personal reasons, not to have their children attend
Home education may also refer to instruction in the home under the supervision
of correspondence schools or umbrella schools. In some places, an approved
curriculum is legally required if children are to be home educated.
Home education is often considered to be synonymous with homeschooling, but some
have argued that the latter term implies the re-creation of school in the
context of the home, which they believe is philosophically at odds with
Unschooling contrasts with other forms of home education in that the student's
education is not directed by a teacher and curriculum. Although unschooling
students may choose to make use of teachers or curricula, they are ultimately in
control of their own education. Students choose how, when, why, and what they
pursue. Parents who unschool their children act as "facilitators," providing a
wide range of resources, helping their children access, navigate, and make sense
of the world, and aiding them in making and implementing goals and plans for
both the distant and immediate future. Unschooling expands from children's
natural curiosity as an extension of their interests, concerns, needs, goals,
history of education
For much of history and in many cultures, enlisting professional teachers
(whether as tutors or in a formal academic setting) was an option available only
to a small elite. Thus, until relatively recently, the vast majority of people
were educated by parents (especially during early childhood) and in the context
of a specific type labor that they would pursue in adult life, such as working
in the fields or learning a trade.
The earliest compulsory education in the West began in the late 17th century and
early 18th century in the German states of Gotha, Calemberg and, particularly,
Prussia. However, even in the 18th century, the vast majority of people in
Europe lacked formal schooling, which means they were homeschooled or received
no education at all. The same was also true for colonial America and for the
United States until the 1850s. Formal schooling in a classroom setting has been
the most common means of schooling throughout the world, especially in developed
countries, since the early and mid 19th century. Native Americans, who
traditionally used homeschooling and apprenticeship, strenuously resisted
compulsory education in the United States.
Public schools were gradually introduced into the United States during the
course of the 19th century. The first state to issue a compulsory education law
was Massachusetts, in 1789, but not until 1852 did the state establish a "true
comprehensive statewide, modern system of compulsory schooling."
Before the introduction of public schools, many children were educated in
private schools or in the home.
After the establishment of the Massachusetts system, other states and localities
gradually began to provide public schools and to make attendance mandatory.
Who should home educate?
education is not for everyone. There needs to be a firm commitment on the
part of both the parents and the children.
Home educators often claim that learning any specific subject is less important
than learning how to learn. They assert, in the words of Alec Bourne, "It is
possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely
uneducated", and in the words of Holt: "Since we can’t know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is
senseless to try to teach it in advance. Instead, we should try to turn out
people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to
learn whatever needs to be learned."
This ability to learn on their own makes it more likely that later, when these
children are adults, they can continue to learn what they need to know to meet
newly emerging needs, interests, and goals. They can return to any subject that
they feel was not sufficiently covered or learn a completely new subject.
Many home educators disagree that there is a particular body of knowledge that
every person, regardless of the life they lead, needs to possess. They suggest
that there are countless subjects worth studying, more than anyone could learn
within a single lifetime. Since it would be impossible for a child to learn
everything, somebody must decide what subjects they are to explore. Home
educators argue that "Children... if they are given access to enough of the
world, they will see what things are truly important to themselves and to
others, and they will make for themselves a better path into that world than
anyone else could make for them."
The role of parents
The child-directed nature of home educating does not mean
that home education parents will not provide their children
with guidance and advice, or that they will refrain from
sharing things that they find fascinating or illuminating
with them. These parents generally believe that as adults,
they have more experience with the world and greater access
to it. They believe in the importance of using this to aid
their children in accessing, navigating, and making sense of
the world. Common parental activities include sharing
interesting books, articles, and activities with their
children, helping them find knowledgeable people to explore
an interest with (anyone from physics professors to
automotive mechanics), and helping them set goals and figure
out what they need to do to meet their goals. The
interest-based nature of home education does not mean that
it is a "hands off" approach to education; parents tend to
be quite involved, especially with younger children (older
children, unless they are new to home education, will often
need much less help finding resources and making and
carrying out plans).
Who really does home education?
Statistically, the typical American home educating parents are married and
home educate their children primarily for religious or moral reasons. They average
three or more children, and typically the mother stays home to care for them.
Home education has increased tremendously, from 15,000 students in 1970 to
500,000 in 1990. According to United States Department of Education report
NCES 2003-42, "Homeschooling in the United States: 2003", there was an
increase in homeschooled students in the U.S. from 850,000 students in 1999 (1.7
percent of the total student population) to 1.1 million students in 2003 (2.2
percent of the total student population).
According to a National Home Education Research Institute statement,
an estimated 1.9 to 2.4 million children were home educated during 2005–2006.
During this time, home education rates increased among students whose parents
have high school or lower education, 1.6 to 2.4 percent among student in grades
6–8; and 0.7 to 1.4 percent among students with only one parent.
As in 1999, rates were highest in families with three or more children (3.1
percent), and higher in families with two children (1.5 percent) than only one
child (1.4 percent). There were more home education students from families with two
parents (2.5 percent) than only one parent (1.5 percent), and students from two
parent families where only one parent worked were more than twice as likely to
be home educated (5.6 percent).
Parents offer a variety of reasons for home educating their children. The more
common reasons can be seen in the following table.
|Reasons for home education
|Number of Home Educated Students
|Can give child better education at home
|Poor learning environment at school
|To develop character/morality
|Object to what school teaches
|School does not challenge child
|Other problems with available schools
|Child has special needs/disability
|Child not old enough to enter school
|Could not get into desired school
|Other reasons *
|* Other reasons include more flexibility in educational
practices for children with learning disabilities or illnesses, or for
children of missionaries, military families, or otherwise traveling
parents. Home education is sometimes opted for the gifted student who is
accelerated, when a child has a significant career hobby (such as
acting, circus performance, dancing or music), or for families who wish
to abstain from mandatory immunizations.
Note - The figures in the table and the graph above do not exactly match
as the information was obtained during different time frames.
According to a 2003 U.S. Census survey, 33% of home education households cited
religion as a factor in their choice. The same study found that 30% felt school
had a poor learning environment, 14% objected to what the school teaches, 11%
felt their children were not being challenged at school, and 9% cited morality.
According to the U.S. DOE's "Homeschooling in the United States: 2003", 85
percent of home educating parents cited "the social environments of other forms
of schooling" (including safety, drugs, bullying and negative peer-pressure) as
an important reason why they home educate. 72 percent cited "to provide
religious or moral instruction" as an important reason, and 68 percent cited
"dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools." 7 percent cited
"Child has physical or mental health problems", 7 percent cited "Child has other
special needs", 9 percent cited "Other reasons" (including "child's choice,"
"allows parents more control of learning," and "flexibility").
is no set time to begin a home education program. It does seem to make sense
that earlier is better since children begin learning from the moment they
enter the world.
Home educators commonly believe that curiosity is innate and that children want
to learn. Some argue that institutionalizing children in what they term a "one
size fits all" or "factory model" school is an inefficient use of their time
because it requires every child to learn a specific subject matter in a
particular manner, at a particular pace, and at a particular time regardless of
that individual's present or future needs, interests, goals, or any pre-existing
knowledge he or she might have about the topic.
Many home educators also believe that opportunities for valuable hands-on,
community based, spontaneous, and real-world experiences are missed when
educational opportunities are largely limited to those which can occur
physically inside of a school building.
Home educators note that psychologists have documented many differences between
children in the way that they learn, and assert that home education is better
equipped to adapt to these differences.
Developmental psychologists note that children are prepared to learn at
different ages. Just as some children learn to walk during a normal range of
eight to fifteen months, and begin to talk across an even larger range, home
educators assert that they are also ready to read, for example, at different
ages. Since traditional education requires all children to begin reading at the
same time and do multiplication at the same time, home educators believe that
some children cannot help but be bored because this was something that they had
been ready to learn earlier, and even worse, some children cannot help but fail,
because they are not yet ready for this new information being taught.
Recent research has indicated that people vary greatly in their "learning
styles", that is, how they acquire new information. In a traditional school
setting, while there might be some application of this knowledge, classroom
teachers almost never allow an individual student to be evaluated any
differently than any other student, and while a teacher—particularly at the
primary levels—may use different teaching methods, this is generally done
haphazardly and without specific regard for the needs of any individual student.
In the 1970s Raymond S. Moore and Dorothy N. Moore conducted four federally funded
analyses of more than 8,000 early childhood studies, from which they published
their original findings in "Better Late Than Early," 1975. This was followed by
"School Can Wait," a repackaging of these same findings designed specifically
for educational professionals. Their analysis concluded that, "where possible,
children should be withheld from formal schooling until at least ages eight to
Their reason was that children, "are not mature enough for formal school
programs until their senses, coordination, neurological development and
cognition are ready." They concluded that the outcome of forcing children into
formal schooling is a sequence of:
- uncertainty as the child leaves the family nest early
for a less secure environment
- puzzlement at the new pressures and restrictions of the
- frustration because unready learning tools – senses,
cognition, brain hemispheres, coordination – cannot handle the regimentation
of formal lessons and the pressures they bring
- hyperactivity growing out of nerves and jitter, from
- failure which quite naturally flows from the four
- delinquency which is failure’s twin and apparently for
the same reason
According to the Moores, "early formal schooling is burning out our children.
Teachers who attempt to cope with these youngsters also are burning out." Aside
from academic performance, they think early formal schooling also destroys
"positive sociability", encourages peer dependence, and discourages self worth,
optimism, respect for parents, and trust in peers. They believe this situation
is particularly acute for boys because of their delay in maturity. The Moore's
cited a Smithsonian Report on the development of genius, indicating a
- much time spent with warm, responsive parents and other
- very little time spent with peers
- a great deal of free exploration under parental guidance
Their analysis suggested that children need:
- more of home and less of formal school
- more free exploration with parents
- fewer limits of classroom and books
- more old fashioned chores
- to be working with parents
- less attention to rivalry sports and amusements
The timing of home education is extremely important but equally important
is the method of home education used. Many philosophies exist, however, the
needs of the family and the child should guide you in making the best decision.
A few of the more commonly accepted methods include the following:
Unschooling and natural learning
Some people use the term "unschooling" to describe all methods of education that
do not resemble schools.
“Natural learning” refers to a type of learning-on-demand where children pursue
knowledge based on their interests and parents take an active part in
facilitating activities and experiences conducive to learning but do not rely
heavily on textbooks or spend much time “teaching”, looking instead for
“learning moments” throughout their daily activities. Parents see their role as
that of affirming through positive feedback and modeling the necessary skills,
and the child’s role as being responsible for asking and learning.
The term "unschooling" as coined by John Holt describes an approach in which
parents do not authoritatively direct the child's education, but interact with
the child following the child's own interests, leaving them free to explore and
learn as their interests lead. "Unschooling" does not indicate that the
child is not being educated, but that the child is not being "schooled", or
educated in a rigid school-type manner. Holt asserted that children learn
through the experiences of life, and he encouraged parents to live their lives
with their child. Also known as interest-led or child-led learning, unschooling
attempts to follow opportunities as they arise in real life, through which a
child will learn without coercion. An unschooled child may utilize texts or
classroom instruction, but these are not considered central to education. Holt
asserted that there is no specific body of knowledge that is, or should be,
required of a child.
"Unschooling" should not be confused with "deschooling," which may be used to
indicate an anti-"institutional school" philosophy, or a period or form of
deprogramming for children or parents who have previously been schooled.
Both unschooling and natural learning advocates believe that children learn best
by doing; a child may learn reading to further an interest about history or
other cultures, or math skills by operating a small business or sharing in
family finances. They may learn animal husbandry keeping dairy goats or meat
rabbits, botany tending a kitchen garden, chemistry to understand the operation
of firearms or the internal combustion engine, or politics and local history by
following a zoning or historical-status dispute. While any type of homeschoolers
may also use these methods, the unschooled child initiates these learning
activities. The natural learner participates with parents and others in learning
use a wide variety of methods and materials. There are
different paradigms, or educational philosophies, that
families adopt including unit studies, Classical education
(including Trivium, Quadrivium), Charlotte Mason education,
Montessori method, Theory of multiple intelligences,
Unschooling, Waldorf education, School-at-home, A Thomas
Jefferson Education, and many others. Some of these
approaches, particularly unit studies, Montessori, and
Waldorf, are also available in private or public school
It is not uncommon for the student to experience more than one approach as the
family discovers what works best for them. Most families do choose an eclectic
(mixed) approach. For sources of curricula and books, "Homeschooling in the
United States: 2003" found that 78 percent utilized "a public library"; 77
percent used "a homeschooling catalog, publisher, or individual specialist"; 68
percent used "retail bookstore or other store"; 60 percent used "an education
publisher that was not affiliated with homeschooling." "Approximately half" used
curriculum or books from "a homeschooling organization", 37 percent from a
"church, synagogue or other religious institution" and 23 percent from "their
local public school or district." 41 percent in 2003 utilized some sort of
distance learning, approximately 20 percent by "television, video or radio"; 19
percent via "Internet, e-mail, or the World Wide Web"; and 15 percent taking a
"correspondence course by mail designed specifically for homeschoolers."
Individual governmental units, e,g, states and local districts, vary in official
curriculum and attendance requirements.
The unit study approach incorporates several subjects, such as art, history,
math, science, geography and theology, around the context of one topical theme,
like water, animals, American slavery, or ancient Rome. For example, a unit
study of Native Americans could combine age-appropriate lessons in: social
studies, how different tribes lived before colonization vs. today; art, making
Native American clothing; history (of Native Americans in the U.S.); reading
from a special reading list; and the science of plants used by Native Americans.
Unit studies are particularly helpful for teaching multiple grade levels
simultaneously, as the topic can easily be adjusted (i.e. from an 8th grader
detailing and labeling a spider’s anatomy to an elementary student drawing a
picture of a spider on its web). As it is generally the case that in a given "homeschool"
very few students are spread out among the grade levels, the unit study approach
is an attractive option. Unit study advocates assert that children retain 45%
more information following this approach.
"All-in-one" curricula, sometimes called a "school in a box", are comprehensive
packages covering many subjects; usually an entire year's worth. They contain
all needed books and materials, including pencils and writing paper. Most such
curricula were developed for isolated families who lack access to public
schools, libraries and shops.
Typically, these materials recreate the school environment in the home and are
based on the same subject-area expectations as publicly run schools, allowing an
easy transition into school. They are among the more expensive options, but are
easy to use and require minimal preparation. The guides are usually extensive,
with step-by-step instructions. These programs may include standardized tests
and remote examinations to yield an accredited school diploma.
Online schools and educational resources can improve the quality of
home education and make it more accessible. Online resources for
home education include courses of study, educational games, online tests, online
tutoring, and occupational training. Online learning potentially allows students
and families access to specialized teachers and materials and greater
flexibility in scheduling. Parents can be with their children during online
tutoring session. Finally, online tutoring is useful for students who are
disabled or otherwise limited in their ability to travel.
The lack of "formal" records and transcripts (kept by school districts) is
rarely a problem for home educated students who wish to enter college. Most, if
not all, states permit home education parents to issue a high school transcript
for their child, and many parents choose to use standardized
test scores to aid colleges in evaluating students. The College Board suggests
that home educated students keep detailed records and portfolios.
In the last several decades, US colleges and universities have become
increasingly open to accepting students from diverse backgrounds, including
home educated students. According to one source, home educated students have now
matriculated at over 900 different colleges and universities, including
institutions with highly selective standards of admission such as Harvard
University, Stanford University, Cornell University, Brown University, Dartmouth
College, and Princeton University.
A growing number of home educated students are choosing dual enrollment, earning
college credit by taking community college classes while in high school. Others
choose to earn college credits through standardized tests such as the College
Level Examination Program (CLEP).
Where should you do home education?
education is legal in many countries. Countries with the most prevalent home
education movements include Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom,
and the United States. Some countries have highly regulated home education
programs as an extension of the compulsory school system; others, such as
Germany and Brazil, have outlawed it entirely. In other countries, while not
restricted by law, home education is not socially acceptable or considered
undesirable and is virtually non-existent.
Home education should not be confined to the home or only one environment.
home educators often take advantage of educational opportunities at museums,
community centers, athletic clubs, after-school programs, churches, science
preserves, parks, and other community resources. Secondary school level students
may take classes at community colleges, which typically have open admission
policies. In many communities, home educating parents and students participate in
community theater, dance, band, symphony, and chorale opportunities.
Groups of home education families often join together to create home education
co-ops. These groups typically meet once a week and provide a classroom
environment. These are family-centered support groups whose members seek to pool
their talents and resources in a collective effort to broaden the scope of their
children's education. They provide a classroom environment where students can do
hands-on and group learning such as performing, science experiments, art
projects, foreign language study, spelling bees, discussions, etc. Parents whose
children take classes serve in volunteer roles to keep costs low and make the
program a success.
Certain states, such as Maine, have laws that permit home
education families to take advantage of public school
resources. In such cases, children can be members of sports
teams, be members of the school band, can take art classes,
and utilize services such as speech therapy while
maintaining their home education lifestyle.
Concerns about socialization are often a factor in the
decision to home school. Many home educators believe that
the conditions common in conventional schools, like age
segregation, a low ratio of adults to children, a lack of
contact with the community, and a lack of people in
professions other than teaching or school administration
create an unhealthy social environment. They feel that their
children benefit from coming in contact with people of
diverse ages and backgrounds in a variety of contexts. They
also feel that their children benefit from having some
ability to influence what people they encounter, and in what
contexts they encounter them.
Home educators cite studies which report that home educated students tend to be
more mature than their schooled peers, and some believe this is a result of the
wide range of people with which they have the opportunity to communicate.
I Quit, I Think
The Retirement announcement of John Taylor Gatto
written in the Wall Street Journal on July 25th, 1991
I’ve taught public school for 26 years but I just can’t do it anymore. For years
I asked the local school board and superintendent to let me teach a curriculum
that doesn’t hurt kids, but they had other fish to fry. So I’m going to quit, I
I’ve come slowly to understand what it is I really teach: A curriculum of
confusion, class position, arbitrary justice, vulgarity, rudeness, disrespect
for privacy, indifference to quality, and utter dependency. I teach how to fit
into a world I don’t want to live in.
I just can’t do it anymore. I can’t train children to wait to be told what to
do; I can’t train people to drop what they are doing when a bell sounds; I can’t
persuade children to feel some justice in their class placement when there isn’t
any, and I can’t persuade children to believe teachers have valuable secrets
they can acquire by becoming our disciples. That isn’t true.
Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history. It kills the
family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect
for home and parents.
An exaggeration? Hardly. Parents aren’t meant to participate in our form of
schooling, rhetoric to the contrary. My orders as schoolteacher are to make
children fit an animal training system, not to help each find his or her
The whole blueprint of school procedure is Egyptian, not Greek or Roman. It
grows from the faith that human value is a scarce thing, represented
symbolically by the narrow peak of a pyramid.
That idea passed into American history through the Puritans. It found its
“scientific” presentation in the bell curve, along which talent supposedly
apportions itself by some Iron Law of biology.
It’s a religious idea and school is its church. New York City hires me to be a
priest. I offer rituals to keep heresy at bay. I provide documentation to
justify the heavenly pyramid.
Socrates foresaw that if teaching became a formal profession something like this
would happen. Professional interest is best served by making what is easy to do
seem hard; by subordinating laity to priesthood. School has become too vital a
jobs project, contract-giver and protector of the social order to allow itself
to be “re-formed.” It has political allies to guard its marches.
That’s why reforms come and go-without changing much. Even reformers can’t
imagine school much different.
David learns to read at age four; Rachel, at age nine: In normal development,
when both are 13, you can’t tell which one learned first — the five-year spread
means nothing at all. But in school I will label Rachel “learning disabled” and
slow David down a bit, too.
For a paycheck, I adjust David to depend on me to tell him when to go and stop.
He won’t outgrow that dependency. I identify Rachel as discount merchandise,
“special education.” After a few months she’ll be locked into her place forever.
In 26 years of teaching rich kids and poor, I almost never met a “learning
disabled” child; hardly ever met a gifted and talented one, either. Like all
school categories, these are sacred myths, created by the human imagination.
They derive from questionable values we never examine because they preserve the
temple of schooling.
That’s the secret behind short-answer tests, bells, uniform time blocks, age
grading, standardization, and all the rest of the school religion punishing our
There isn’t a right way to become educated; there are as many ways as
fingerprints. We don’t need state-certified teachers to make education
happen–that probably guarantees it won’t.
How much more evidence is necessary? Good schools don’t need more money or a
longer year; they need real free-market choices, variety that speaks to every
need and runs risks. We don’t need a national curriculum, or national testing
either. Both initiatives arise from ignorance of how people learn, or deliberate
indifference to it.
I can’t teach this way any longer. If you hear of a job where I don’t have to
hurt kids to make a living, let me know. Come fall I’ll be looking for work, I
I was fortunate to grow up in Kenmore, a very small village north of, and
adjacent to, Buffalo, New York. This was a very intimate community composed
mainly of middle class folks whose primary concerns were raising their families
and being happy.
I attended Charles A. Lindbergh elementary school from kindergarten until sixth
grade. My many years at the school were fun, I had many friends, and I actually
did learn a few things. Although it was not the same warm environment as home,
it was acceptable at least at the beginning. As the years went on though, I
found myself getting in trouble in class, mostly for being restless and talking
too much. A typical day for me meant staying after school and writing on
the blackboard....yes they were black back in the day...."I will not talk in
class" 300 times. The teachers always seemed to pick 300 times as the penalty
for some reason, almost like it was a mandate from the New York State Department
of Education. My friends were already home and playing football in the street,
while I was forced into complying with this punishment imposed on me simply
because my behavior was "disruptive" to the class.
No consideration was given then as to why I was behaving in this manner and
unable to control myself. No one bothered to realize I was bored out of my mind
and was able to comprehend the materials being taught in a quarter of the time
it took the teacher to teach them. As I progressed towards sixth grade, the
problem became more pronounced, and I found myself unable to abide by the strict
controls being place on me and my desire to learn at a faster speed.
Then came middle school and an even more structured environment. More rules,
more requirements, more restrictions, and of course, more penalties for deviant
behavior. Couple this with a much more hierarchical social structure, and middle
school simply became intolerable for me. Every day I watched as my formally
innocent elementary school friends changed, and began showing a blatant
disregard for authority, growing apathy towards studying and learning in
general, and even worse, a demoralized attitude towards their future in American
society and the World.
Enough was enough already. I began to get stomach cramps and was nauseous every
day on the way to school. The symptoms worsened until the point I was
hospitalized for a week to ascertain if there was some physiological reason for
my discomfort. After a lot of testing, it was determined my manifestations were
psychological, at which time the student counselor appointed a psychologist to
ascertain my "problem", come up with a diagnosis, and find a solution. After
being subjected to numerous psychological tests, including IQ where I scored
extremely high, I was eventually labeled with the term "school phobia", at which
time the school allowed me to drop out and study at home until I could get my
This was a new situation for such a small village....a kid who was not bad, but
simply could not handle, and did not want to go to school. The concept of home
education did not exist then....I was simply a kid who did not fit the public
school system. The stories about me began to circulate in town and went from, I
was stealing cars, to chronic drug use....BTW I never used drugs to this day,
not even cannibis, though I am an avid wine aficionado. The truth was, I stayed
home every day watching "Days of Our Lives", a daytime soap opera, spent time
studying, and in the afternoon played street football with my friends once they
escaped from school for the day.
The school continued to put pressure on me to return to class, and at age 15, I
decided to remove myself from school. The legal age to drop out of school in New
York State was 16 at that time, and in fact, is still the same as of this
writing. Since I was still 15 years old, the state would not allow me to quit
school. When I would not comply with their demand to return, New York State took
me to court. I can still vividly remember standing in the courtroom, my legs
shaking in front of the judge, and being forced to defend myself for the crime
of not wanting to go to school. The judge pulled out every trick in the book,
including intimidation stating that if I decided not to return to school, he
could and would order me to serve time in a Juvenile Detention Center, AKA Juvy,
which is effectively a secure prison or jail for persons under the age of
majority, who commit crimes....LIKE NOT GOING TO SCHOOL. I said to the judge,
"do what you need to do, but I am not returning to school", and with that the
case was dismissed.
I was fortunate and thankful my parents supported me 100 percent and were able
to convince the school and the state to allow me to leave school permanently. I
eventually took the GED, the high school diploma equivalency exam, and began
attending night school at the State University of New York at Buffalo at the age
of 17, a year before my high school graduating class. A few years later, I moved
to California, graduated from San Diego State University with a business degree,
and went to work as a real estate appraiser, eventually owning a very successful
appraisal firm in San Diego. After retiring at age 40, I returned to college,
obtained an English teaching TEFL certificate, completed a two year associates
degree program in Japanese studies, and moved to Japan where I met my wife
Akiko. We are now residing on a beautiful subtropical island called Tanegashima
with our three sons Shai, Lael, and Ethan, who are all being happily home educated.