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Sunday, June 4, 2017

43. Bootie Zimmer: The Underground HIstory of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org

Bootie Zimmer 

The miracle woman who taught me to read was my mother, Bootie. Bootie never got a 
college degree, but nobody despaired about that because daily life went right along then 
without too many college graduates. Here was Bootie's scientific method: she would hold 
me on her lap and read to me while she ran her finger under the words. That was it, 
except to read always with a lively expression in her voice and eyes, to answer my 
questions, and from time to time to give me some practice with different letter sounds. 

One thing more is important. For a long time we would sing, "A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, 

I, J, K, LMNOP..." and so on, every single day. We learned to love each letter. She would 
read tough stories as well as easy ones. Truth is, I don't think she could readily tell the 
difference any more than I could. The books had some pictures but only a few; words 
made up the center of attention. Pictures have nothing at all to do with learning to love 
reading, except too many of them will pretty much guarantee that it never happens. 

Over fifty years ago my mother Bootie Zimmer chose to teach me to read well. She had 
no degrees, no government salary, no outside encouragement, yet her private choice to 
make me a reader was my passport to a good and adventurous life. Bootie, the daughter 
of a Bavarian printer, said "Nuts!" to the Prussian system. She voted for her own right to 
decide, and for that I will always be in her debt. She gave me a love of language and it 
didn't cost much. Anybody could have the same, if schooling hadn't abandoned its duty 
so flagrantly. 

False Premises 

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