14 Traits of Elite Schools

For anyone interested in the “educational” system in the United States — what it teaches and what it fails to teach — the work of John Taylor Gatto is invaluable. The folks at Tragedy and Hope media have loads of great interviews with him.

There is a huge disparity in quality of education between your elite private school and your typical public school. Gatto outlined 14 traits he found in the former type of school that were sorely missing from the latter.

They provide a great foundation for anyone trying to pursue an enriching and useful education. They are: 

  1. Teach a theory of human nature. (What are humans like? Why do they act the way that they do?)
  2. Teach a strong sense of the active literacies (Train the ability to express yourself clearly and persuasively in a public setting)
  3. Encourage insight into social and political institutions (What are the major institutions that govern the behavior of humans across the globe? How do they work?)
  4. Provide training in politeness and civility. (It just makes life a lot easier)
  5. Encourage independent work.
  6. Physical sports taught are to confer grace, not brutality. (Body language is incredibly important and twins nice with the learning how to be polite and civil.)
  7. Teach a theory of access to places and people (Goes well with a theory of human nature)
  8. Encourage personal responsibility.
  9. Encourage individuals to develop a personal code of standards.
  10. Encourage familiarity with masterpieces in art and music. (Cultural Capital. )
  11. Teach accurate observation and recording of experiences. (Learn to draw very realistically)
  12. Encourage the ability to deal with all sorts of challenges.
  13. Teach a habit of caution in reasoning to conclusions.
  14. Encourage a constant development and testing of prior judgments. (Writing a daily or multiple-day-a-week journal for the express purpose of clarifying thought is a great practice for doing this.)