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An American Affidavit

Monday, December 31, 2018

5. He Was Square Inside And Brown: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org

5. He Was Square Inside And Brown: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org 

 Barbara Whiteside showed me a poem written by a high school senior in Alton, Illinois,  two weeks before he committed suicide:    

He drew... the things inside that needed saying.  Beautiful pictures he kept
under his pillow.  When he started school he brought them...  To have along like a friend. It was funny about school, he sat at a square brown  desk Like all the other square brown desks... and his  room Was a square brown room like all the other  rooms, tight And close and stiff.   He hated to hold the pencil and chalk, his arms stiff  His feet flat on the floor, stiff, the teacher watching  And watching. She told him to wear a tie like  All the other boys, he said he didn't like them.  She said it didn't matter what he liked. After that the  class drew.   He drew all yellow. It was the way he felt about  Morning. The Teacher came and smiled, "What's     this?   Why don't you draw something like Ken's   drawing?"   After that his mother bought him a tie, and he   always Drew airplanes and rocketships like   everyone else.   He was square inside and brown and his hands were   stiff. The things inside that needed saying didn't   need it   Anymore, they had stopped pushing... crushed, stiff   Like everything else.   

     After I spoke in Nashville, a mother named Debbie pressed a handwritten note on me  which I read on the airplane to Binghamton, New York: 

      We started to see Brandon flounder in the first grade, hives,  depression, he cried every night after he asked his father,  "Is tomorrow school, too?" In second grade the physical  stress became apparent. The teacher pronounced his  problem Attention Deficit Syndrome. My happy, bouncy  child was now looked at as a medical problem, by us as  well as the school.   A doctor, a psychiatrist, and a school authority all   determined he did have this affliction. Medication was   stressed along with behavior modification. If it was   suspected that Brandon had not been medicated he was sent   home. My square peg needed a bit of whittling to fit their round hole, it seemed.   I cried as I watched my parenting choices stripped away. My ignorance of options  allowed Brandon to be medicated through second grade. The tears and hives continued  another full year until I couldn't stand it. I began to homeschool Brandon. It was his  salvation. No more pills, tears, or hives. He is thriving. He never cries now and does his  work eagerly. 

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