Secrets to a Successful Education

Recently, I revisited a contemporary, classic book on education for a discussion group I participate in by John Taylor Gatto.  This reminded me of 14 educational principles he compiled from personal  research on the top, elite high schools in the US.

Gatto’s history spans a successful career teaching public school in New York for over 30 years, and in retirement advocating with a loud voice for educational reform as a writer and public speaker.  His passion for teaching sparked a personal interest to discover what exactly, if anything was different about what is taught in the elite high schools. He learned that although each school carries its own academic mark of distinction, they all share a core that proves key to their students’ success.

Gatto summarizes the core into 14 areas, which he believes provides the foundation in determining what education for success really looks like.  The programs in these elite schools genuinely equip students with skills, knowledge and tools to launch them way beyond academic success.  These schools continue to produce a large portion of today’s leaders.  This study lends a revealing yardstick of measurement to apply to institutions of learning as students resume school this fall.

 The core list is as follows:

#1 Students form a complete theory of human nature, through theology, classic literature, philosophy, and history, and interestingly enough, not through psychology.  Students reason through  the universals and particulars of man with authors who pondered and wrote about the ultimate questions, inviting them to participate in the great conversation of human existence.

#2 All the schools provide consistent and frequent opportunity for student’s to practice in the active literacies- writing, and speaking. Writing and speaking well, reinforces thinking well and is essential  in the great exchange of ideas for commerce, politics, religion etc. Think of Bacon’s quote, “reading maketh a full man, speaking a ready man, and writing makes him exact.”

#3 Students gain insight into major institutions, and the ideas that drive them by study of their form, history and hierarchy. US public schools do include US government as part of the required curriculum, but the foundation that the government was built upon is generally missed. How many students today read John Locke, and can explain that the US went the way of Locke, rather than Hobbes, two contemporary philosophers; whereas, Western Europe decidedly embraced Hobbes’s “Social Contract.”  Other important institutions in the US that would benefit student understanding might include; universities, hospitals, libraries, the Pentagon, the New York Stock Exchange and so forth.

#4 Students behavior in all the schools is reinforced with a civil tone by repeated exercise in decorum and manners.

#5 Most of the academic work is independent, what I call active learning, as opposed to passive learning. Students do not wait around for the teacher to tell them what to do, read, answer etc., but are actively engaged in directing their education.

#6 Students participate in an energetic, physical sport that Gatto says in addition to the many obvious benefits, the important two are that it helps to confer grace upon the human form, and strengthen endurance. To carry oneself well, and with confidence benefits the person and those around them.

#7 Students apply a theory of access towards gaining access to any person or place. Gatto shares many enlightening, and successful stories of his students venturing around New York City, strategically executing their plans from his classroom.

#8 Personal  responsibility in all areas is driven into the students at these schools. In fairness, the private schools are able to provide a little more opportunity here because most are boarding schools, so house tasks are shared. However, this ethic expands into taking leadership positions in clubs and such, and promoting the ideal of personal excellence in always delivering more than is asked.

#9 By the end of their 12th year, students are expected to have arrived at a personal code of behavior and morality that they’ve decided to navigate life by.

#10 All students emerge from their high school experience with comfort in the arts, both visual and performing, and architecture.

#11 Students acquire the power of accurate observation and recording that includes accurate notes as well as basic drawing. This skill was essential for the men who laid the foundation in modern science.

#12 The schools are able to meet each student with flexibility and skill because of an understanding of the individual. Each person brings with them weakness, so the schools are able to challenge a student in their weakness, so as to strengthen it.

#13 Another practice in the schools is student development and testing of their judgement, or what might be called correct thinking. We always hear about the importance of critical thinking, but a better term is correct thinking. Reasoning demands discrimination in the evaluation of things, then mental follow up on personal predictions and consistent mental correction.

#14 The last principle is an extension of the above.  It is the developing a habit of caution in drawing conclusions instead of jumping to rash ones.

Now I’m not so naive as to not know, that it is often “who you know” that can make the big difference in certain life endeavors, but mastery in the above would certainly prepare an individual to know, who to know,  how to go about knowing them, and where to find them.  It’s also noteworthy, that many of the knowledge, skills, and understanding included in the core are relationship oriented. By the time these youths graduate high school, they understandably will be at ease with the world, and ready to lead wherever life takes them. The beauty of this type of education is that it’s not just for youth, or high school, but is an educational formula that anyone can follow at anytime in their life.

Sowing Seeds of Local Self-Government in Kenyan Fields: WOW Launches Fundraiser for The Gutuka Project This Fall

This month, WOW is conducting a campaign to generate funds in support of our Kenyan sisters and the children they are caring for in Homebay, a peanut growing region of the Nyanza Province.  The women participating in The  Gutuka Project  are members of a local  SACCO,  a savings and credit cooperative,  chaired under the leadership of The Family Resource Center and Jenipher Otieno.  All Funds generated from WOW’s campaign will go directly to the project. The Family Resource Center provides training and support for orphaned children and families caring for these children. 

The Heart of the Program:


The purpose in the forming of the coop initially was to provide sustainable solutions for the many orphans in the area. The women who help take in these orphaned children are essentially doing foster care for them, but unlike other places in the world, there is not government funding for these families.

It is often very economically difficult to add an extra person to a household already struggling in this region. There are currently about 30 women involved in the coop. Most of the women in the Gutuka program are the bread winners in their households. They provide for their families through small businesses that include the farming of peanuts, making baskets, raising poultry and making of foods. What makes these women and the program so special is that many of the women have opened their hearts and homes to orphans, that had no place to go. The Coop makes it economically possible to care for the children as well as their families. Please help these children by making a donation


The How of the Program:


Each family will be responsible for their own planting and harvest. At harvest, the individual families will be paid cash for their crop. The peanut grinding machine will be kept at a center, where the peanut butter will be ground and packaged.  Proceeds from the sale of the peanut butter will go toward food subsidies for the children, and the future purchase of more peanut seed, which the families will receive for free to replant the next crop.

The Cost of the Program:

There are three financial components to the proposed project. The first is to raise money for the purchase of seed for planting peanuts, estimated around $800 US dollars. Planting time for peanuts begins in November. There are generally two successive plantings for the peanut crop. The second is to purchase a peanut grinding machine estimated at $700 US dollars. The peanut grinder is a means for the women to produce peanut butter, which is a nutritious product as well as cash generating for their families. The third component is continuing education for the women, estimated at $1000 US dollars. Building their capacity through training in business skills, will help them improve their income generating and saving activities. These families have already raised $500 US dollars toward the project themselves by saving $2 US dollars a month consistently.

Gutuka is a Swahili word meaning “self-realization,” or as we would say in the US, self-reliant. This is the type of genuine investment in women that WOW advocates for. Please join WOW in making a donation today to help plant seeds of local self-government in the fields of our Kenyan sisters’ gardens. Just go to WOW’s website, and press the donate button. Enter your donation amount. Tag the donation as “Gutuka Program.” We appreciate your support of this project, and all donations are tax deductible.

Donate to WOW While Shopping on Amazon

WOW has discovered an easy way for your regular Amazon shopping  to financially benefit our non-profit without costing you one dime. Open an Amazon Smile account and a percentage of your purchase can go to The Worldwide Organization for Women.  The Amazon Smile  Foundation is an Amazon operated website that offers basically the same shopping as Amazon, except 0.5% of the of the purchase price will get donated to an  eligible charitable organization of your choice. WOW is registered  as an eligible charitable organization.  At Smile.Amazon  you can use your same account and password as Once you log in, and set it up, it looks and operates just like  It is free and so easy. Go try it right now.

Follow these easy steps:

  1. Go to where you will log in with your amazon account.
  2. Before you begin shopping, you will be prompted to select a charitable organization. Just type in the words Worldwide Organization for Women. Our name will appear, so select WOW as the charitable organization of your choice to receive donations. You only need to do this once to establish automatic donations for future purchases.
  3. It wouldn’t hurt to bookmark The hardest thing to do is remember to shop there instead of, but occasionally they will send you a reminder.

Now you can shop with a smile, knowing that you are benefitting an important cause

WOW Africa: Changing Children’s Lives in 2018

The Worldwide Organization for Women Anambra State in South East Nigeria is led by Mrs. Ethel Eruchalu. The WOW group of women regularly meet to plan and execute how to best assist the girl child and vulnerable women with the resources they are able to procure. In 2018, they were able to reach their goal of providing critical resources to many young women and girls.

They began the year by making a plan to adopt 3 schools-one primary and two high schools. In the primary school, WOW provided tuition for 12 orphaned students, grades k-6. The rest of the 137 students received 6 exercise books each. This helps to reduce the burden on their guardians.

At the Umuokpu secondary school, WOW provided a series of health talks, which culminated in counseling the students in developing healthy habits for daily living during their summer break. This included talks on washing hands and bathing regularly, keeping clothing clean, cleaning toilet facilities, keeping a clean kitchen, and proper food handling. They emphasized bacteria as the cause of much disease, such as E. coli 0157, which is responsible for food poisoning and kidney failure in that area. WOW taught the students that proper cleanliness prevents the development and spread of bacteria and disease. They followed up at the school again in November.

The students at the secondary school in Asuamocha received similar health instruction, but the visit also included the distribution of treated mosquito nets to 390 students and 10 teachers. This region has experienced high mortality rates due to mosquito borne illness.

In November, WOW Africa held its forum at Awka. The topic was, “ Promoting strong Community, and Religious, and Family support for Combating Violence and Rape Against Women and Girls. The format was a round table discussion, which listened to the victims and included boys and girls. WOW-Africa resolved to work in cooperation with religious, civil leaders and women’s groups to effect changes beginning from within the family. Charity as they say begins at home.

Ethel and the WOW women of Anambra State serve the South East region of Nigeria with wisdom, diligence and love.

Back to School, Back to P*rn?

WOW is issuing a WARNING to all parents with school age children, that  po*rn  purveyors have pushed explicit material into the digital pages of our schools that almost all students have access to.

This is how it works. Schools, both  public and private, online and charter, purchase online library resources. It is akin to the old fashioned reference section of the library. One leading supplier  across the nation is acronymed  EBSCO. Colleges, universities and libraries also purchase from them, which allows all students and patrons  access. The problem is these online reference centers are filled with hardcore p*rnography.

WOW began an investigation into this and within 3 hours was able to document around 8,000 explicit images, articles and advertisements. This raises many questions such as Why are s*x ads in  the student reference library?  Much of the explicit so -called reference material comes from  sales magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Glamor, Marie Claire, and many others within this closed system.

Every student in Utah, whether elementary, middle or high school, who has online access at school also has access to EBSCO through the Utah Education Network. As a matter of fact, it is a recommended place for research, and often preferred above a direct internet search for being safer. This is not true. Schools generally have filters for the internet, but because these reference libraries are a closed system, they CAN NOT BE FILTERED. As a matter of fact, when the reference library is searched the only URL  that appears is the reference library name.

WOW discovered that EBSCO is listed as one of the National Center of Sexual Exploitation’s Dirty Dozen. You can link to their website for more detailed and graphic information and access to some great action items.

Two other news stories have recently broken about the EBSCO database problem in Colorado and Kansas as well.



WOW is currently working to get the UEN to sever ties with EBSCO. Nicholeen Peck was able to interview with KTVU channel 2 news in Utah.  Link to that interview:

UEN said in a statement that they will continue to leave EBSCO available over the weekend, and have contacted EBSCO about the explicit material. This is not a satisfactory response.  Ray Timothy, CEO of UEN was unavailable for an interview until Monday or Tuesday. Please contact UEN 801 581 6991, [email protected] , your local school, your school board and your legislator  and let them know this will not be tolerated in UTAH.

Update on This Situation:

The UEN held a special board meeting on October 1, 2018 just to discuss the EBSCO issue and intended at that time to vote to re-enable the database resource for schools after it had been disabled for about a week and a half. There were 8 of the board who were able to attend the meeting. The 6 men voted to keep EBSCO out of schools until it could be proven safe. The 2 women voting didn’t protect children well. The representative for the state school board, Patty Norman, abstained from the vote because the school board had a split opinion. And, Colleen Eggett, the head of Utah libraries and the Utah Online Library, which hosts EBSCO, said that children had a first amendment right to see whatever they want, and that it is up to parents to teach children what to do if they come across something bad.

Colleen claimed no responsibility for protecting children or honoring parental rights to keep their children safe when in public. She said the problem was 30% a technology problem and 70% a problem with children not being taught skills by their parents. This claim is very concerning. First, if I governed over any product that had 30% of the blame in hurting my customers, I would pull the product and fix it immediately. That is a very large percentage. Is she saying that 30% of the database is problematic? Second, everyone concerned, parents, students, and teachers, were all told the databases were safe because they were not linked to the internet. The items in the database had to be intentionally put there. So, to put 70% of the blame on parents and teachers is a shift of the blame.

This claim that access to pornography on a public computer is a first amendment right is something the ALA [American Library Association] made up. It is not actually a right. Just as a person doesn’t have the right to scream fire in a crowded movie theatre when there isn’t a fire because it can endanger other people, pornography on a public computer that children have access to is not a right.

WOW blames the ALA for the faulty thinking of Ms. Eggett, and does not see the ALA as a trusted authority on keeping children safe, especially since the ALA has been trying to undermine the Child Internet Protection Act [CIPA] laws since 2001. They even went as far as to sue the government as well as create a day of the year called Banned Internet Sites Day and create their own library bill of rights. The ALA is acting as if they are their own government and that the government owes them respect, instead of the reverse.

Parents, please don’t allow your children to access library databases without you there, and speak up against databases at the schools in your area too that might be subjecting your children to pornography. Do some checking. And, tell other parents.

We commend the UEN for voting to keep EBSCO disabled for the time being and for their efforts to keep pushing toward cleaning up the pornography problem on school databases. Even an article in the EBSCO database titled “Top 10 Security Risk Factors for Public and Academic Libraries” said that pornography being seen at libraries by minors and non-consenting adults was number 4 of their 10 risks. . So, they know about it. The good thing is, now parents know about it too. We must protect the children.

Also, Thursday, October 4, 2018 the Utah State School Board met to vote on what their position would be on the EBSCO databases being reinstated. Even though multiple board members were opposed to the idea, the majority of the school board voted to reinstate EBSCO databases when the vote comes up again at the UEN board meeting. WOW cannot believe that a school board would be so careless with the protection of children’s safety. We don’t feel we can have confidence in a state school board who takes something this serious so lightly. They have more of a duty to protect the children and families of Utah than the interests of a few librarians and teachers.