Only handful of private schools churn out almost all of the leaders in the Western world.

Why? Are they just so wealthy that they can afford the best tutors, the best material, or the best facilities?


1. The best material in the world is cheap.

Thanks to Kindle, I picked up all Dostoyevski’s greatest novels for between £5 and £10.

Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, (which detailed how he gave himself a college-level education while working full-time at the age of about 12) is only 49p for fuck’s sake!!

2. While tutorship is helpful, personal authority over studies is CRITICAL.

(See below under the 5th principle of elite boarding schools.)

3. Facilities are like the tutors, helpful but not crucial.

One very disadvantaged young man Gatto mentions in another video got into Harvard largely because he made up his own sport (off-road seatless unicycle riding) and tracked his performance over time. In other words, if you think you lack facilities, you may only lack imagination.

And a lack of imagination is exactly what public schools (and the vast majority of private schools) teach their students, along with their primary purpose – to produce obedience and a lack of critical thinking ability.

No. The real reason these select few schools produce history makers is because the schooling system is set up to privilege a tiny percentage of the population with a real education, the kind that creates powerhouses and world-changers.

Why? Well… how wealthy would the wealthy be if they had to compete with all of us?


Side-note: Here are this week’s additions to my (almost) daily email column. Sign up here to join my mailing list and get these as soon as they’re published.

This Week in The Column:

  1. What Would You Be Like? (If You Were Everything You Were)
  2. How to Be Your Own Psychiatrist
  3. Norm Macdonald Must Not Be Shamed into Silence!
  4. Why a Harvard-Level Education in Writing is Available to You Right Now!
  5. Things I Wish Jordan Peterson Would Point Out to Sam Harris


John Taylor Gatto has lifted the lid on this racket and codified how the elite private boarding schools produce such powerful people on such a regular basis.

You can take these principles and apply them to yourself over the next few years.

You can take these principles and privilege your own children with an education that hits all the critical points of the most elite schools in the world.

Notice, too, how none of them need a fortune. Most need no money. Most are simple, and only demand commitment and a willingness to push through discomfort, (and if you’re low in those faculties too, you can be trained to develop that using principles 5, 6, 8, 9, and 12).

The 14 Principles of Elite Boarding Schools

  1. HUMAN NATURE: No kid should graduate without a theory of human nature, understanding what makes people tick and how to persuade and lead. This doesn’t come from psychology at all. “The lore of human nature” comes from history, philosophy, theology, literature and law.
  2. ACTIVE LITERACIES: Passive literacy is reading. Writing and speaking are the active. Learn writing by writing 300+ words a day. Learn speaking by regularly speaking in front of a group of strangers.
  3. INSTITUTIONS: Graduates must possess insight into our major institutions. The courts, corporations, military, and government.
  4. MANNERS: Politeness and civility are the foundation of all future relationships, alliances, and access to people or institutions. (Many public schools, by contrast, are laboratories of rudeness and cruelty.)
  5. INDEPENDENCE: In public schools, teachers are charged with the task of filling 80-90% of school time. In good private boarding education, that ratio is ideally reversed!
  6. SPORTS: Energetic physical sports are not a luxury, but the only way to confer grace into the physical presence of a person. Also, practice dealing with pain, discomfort, and unexpected crises are huge benefits to intense sport.
  7. ACCESS: Kids are given a complete theory of how to access to any workplace or person. Instead of reading a civics textbook, set a kid the challenge of getting a private meeting with a mayor. Underprivileged kids from Gatto’s classes in ordinary New York public schools did this with mayors, governors, and CEOs with surprising ease.
  8. RESPONSIBILITY: An utterly essential part of the curriculum, which could include things like washing dishes, caring for an animal, taking some important community service, striving for leadership in clubs, to always reach for responsibility and always to deliver more than is asked for.
  9. STANDARDS: Arrival at a personal code of standards (a lifelong project that needs to be regularly checked in with). Develop a personal code you always follow In production, behaviour, and morality.
  10. ART: Familiarity with masterful creations in music, painting, dance, sculpture, design, architecture, literature, and drama. Apart from religion, the arts are the only way to transcend the animal materiality of our lives, to get in touch with the bigger “you”.
  11. OBSERVATION: The power of accurate observation and recording is huge. If you cannot draw what you see with your eye, then you’re not actually seeing what’s there. Drawing was not considered a way to kill time, but a way to sharpen your perception.
  12. CHALLENGES: The ability to deal with challenges of all types. One person’s challenge is another person’s hum-drum. Whatever you feel more resistance to, that’s what you need to push yourself to do.
  13. REASONING: A habit of being cautious when reasoning to conclusions. Should we invade Iraq or not? A few hours of propaganda on your favourite news station is not a way to arrive at a conclusion.
  14. JUDGEMENT: The constant development and testing of judgements. Make judgments, discriminate value, and then follow up on your predictions to see how accurate you were.


Where Would You Be in 10 Years…

  • …if you learned how to speak persuasively to a crowd?
  • …if you started taking full responsibility for everything in your care and you always did more than was asked of you?
  • …if you developed a personal code of ethics that you never broke?
  • …if you learned to make accurate judgements and predictions?
  • …if you understood your coworkers, your boss, your spouse, on a level they didn’t?
  • …if you could command attention every time you walked into a room?
  • …if you finally understood what all the fuss is about art, poetry, and music?
  • …if you learned to observe the world around you like Sherlock Holmes?
  • …if you started hiking, swimming, sailing, climbing, or any other kind of adventuring on a regular basis?
  • …if you believed, from past experience, that you could handle almost any challenge that comes your way?

I’m tempted to go on.


Don’t give in to your anger

I know it’s not fair that you didn’t happen to be in a school that followed these principles. To be honest, I suspect some of the original handful of elite schools and colleges are starting to slip in recent years (for reasons I can’t get into today).

Despite the fact that the best has been withheld from you, don’t despair.

You weren’t unlucky (necessarily). You just weren’t extremely lucky.

And today, you are extremely lucky, because you’ve just been given the keys to the mansion.

If you want to learn more about how to give yourself or your kids an elite education, keep learning from Gatto.

Then, get Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography and read it with a notebook and pen in the other hand.


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