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Paperback Dumbing Us Down - 25th Anniversary Edition: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling Book

ISBN: 0865718547

ISBN13: 9780865718548

Dumbing Us Down - 25th Anniversary Edition: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

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Book Overview

Throw off the shackles of formal schooling and embark upon a rich journey of self-directed, life-long learning

After over 100 years of mandatory schooling in the U.S., literacy rates have dropped, families are fragmented, learning "disabilities" are skyrocketing, and children and youth are increasingly disaffected. Thirty years of teaching in the public school system led John Taylor Gatto to the sad conclusion that compulsory...

Customer Reviews

7 ratings

Wrong Book Sent To Me -

I Didn't Receive The Book That I Ordered. I Was Sent Something Completely Different :(

Excellent read for those disgusted by public school

I hated my public school experience. Teachers are cruel students are cruel grades matter health doesn’t. It’s horrible. If you relate to even one of those points read this before sending your kid back to school.


Very well written and how it resonates into today. I homeschool my children because I felt that I had that sort of an education. It's killing the family and community structures. Truth calling out to a lost age.

The Problem with Books that Matter

I picked up this book with some skepticism after another teacher told me that I ought to read it. After the the first essay, The Seven-Lesson Teacher, I was hooked. John Taylor Gatto eloquently says much of what I had been thinking after teaching high school science for 8 years. I had told my husband when I left teaching high school that I felt that high school could not be reformed but must be completely re-imagined. I had complained about the assembly-line approach to education in American high schools. I never felt I knew my students or understood what they hoped to accomplish in school and in my class. This is a must read for anyone involved in the education of children and especially those who have an inchoate sense that something is wrong with the way we are teaching our children. In the essays in this book, John Taylor Gatto discusses the hidden national curriculum (The Seven-Lesson Teacher) and its inevitable result. In his essay The Psychopathic School, he discusses the link between the way we teach our children and the problems they manifest (no sense of past or future, lack of ability to pay attention, no sense that anything is important, and more). The essay, The Green Monogahela, shows the reader John's background and the informal, learn-from-life way that he learned the most important lessons of his life. Finally, in We Need Less School, Not More, John discusses the difference between family and community, and pseudo-community (he calls it networks) that pervade our national institutions, as well as the importance of a real community to real education. Finally, in the Congregation Principle, John discusses the importance of difference and variety as a corrective to social mistakes and social injustice. He emphasizes that people must be allowed to learn for themselves what works for them--a liberty that is the very foundation of our nation. This book is an important book, because in it are discussions of ideas of great import to our direction as a nation. Again, I urge anyone with an interest in education and in the future of our country to read it. But be warned! This is a book that matters--and like all such books, the ideas in it will change your life. I took my son out of school in August 2006 in order to educate him at home. It has been the most amazing adventure of my life.

Real learning demands individuality, not regimentation.

After 26 years of teaching in the New York public schools, John Taylor Gatto has seen a lot. His book,Dumbing Us Down, is a treatise against what he believes to be the destructive nature of schooling. The book opens with a chapter called "The Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher," in which he outlines sevenharmful lessons he must convey as a public schoolteacher: 1.) confusion 2.) class position 3.) indifference 4.) emotional dependency 5.) intellectual dependency 6.) provisional self-esteem 7.) constant surveillance and the denial of privacy. How ironic it is that Gatto's first two chapters contain the text of his acceptance speeches for NewYork State and City Teacher of the Year Awards. How ironic indeed, that he uses his own award presentation as a forum to attack the very same educational system that is honoring him! Gatto describes schooling, as opposed to learning, as a "twelve-year jail sentence where bad habits are the onlycurriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it," taunts the author.While trapped in this debilitative system along with his students, Gatto, observed in them anoverwhelming dependence. He believes that school teaches this dependence by purposely inhibitingindependent thinking, and reinforcing indifference to adult thinking. He describes his students as"having almost no curiosity, a poor sense of the future, are a historical, cruel, uneasy with intimacy, and materialistic." Gatto suggests that the remedy to this crisis in education is less time spent in school, and more timespent with family and "in meaningful pursuits in their communities." He advocates apprenticeships andhome schooling as a way for children to learn. He even goes so far as to argue for the removal of certification requirements for teachers, and letting "anybody who wants to, teach." Gatto's style of writing is simple and easy to follow. He interlaces personal stories throughout the book to bring clarity and harmony to his views, while also drawing on logic and history to support his ideas about freedom in education and a return to building community. He clearly distinguishes communities from networks: "Communities ... are complex relationships of commonality and obligation," whereas, "Networksdon't require the whole person, but only a narrow piece." While Gatto harshly criticizes schooling, we must realize that his opinions do come as a result of 26 yearsof experience and frustration with the public school system. Unfortunately, whether or not one agrees with his solutions, he has not outlined the logistics of how these improvements would be implemented. His ideas are based on idealism, and the reality of numbers and economics would present many obstacles. Nevertheless, it gives us a clear vision and a direction to follow for teachers and parents who believe in the family as th

Thank you, Mr. Gatto!

In Dumbing Us Down, Mr. Gatto gives his first person perspective on the tragic waste of human potential induced by coerced 12-year confinement of the young to the artificial and anesthetizing environment of the classroom. The book is both enlightening and frightening. Personally, I felt a sense of vindication while reading the book. It put into words my negative feelings about education resulting from my unsuccessful 15 year struggle to encourage my own children to love learning. Mr. Gatto's writing has encouraged me to think that perhaps it was a GOOD thing that school was not able to press them into its mold! At the same time, I found it immensely disturbing that a brilliant, dedicated and award-winning teacher found it impossible to convince his own colleagues that grading, grouping, numbering and force-feeding irrelevant facts to captive children has no correlation to true learning, and does, in fact, suppress any natural curiosity they may have once had. I would like to recommend the book Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich for those interested in looking at the larger social implications of compulsory schooling. If I had it to do over? Home schooling.

This book provides cogent arguements for homeschooling.

John Taylor Gatto was an award-winning public school teacher when he wrote much of the text for this book. He reveals the curriculum of public schools nationwide under the headings: Confusion, Class Position, Indifference, Emotional Dependency, Intellectual Dependency, Provisional Self-Esteem, and One Can't Hide. He asserts that the true goal of childhood learning should be to discover some meaning in life...a passion or an enthusiasm that will drive subsequent learning pursuits. Instead, schools cram irrelevant facts into young minds, substituting book-knowledge for self-knowledge. This book explains a lot for anyone who got good grades, went to college, and then didn't have any idea what to do with his life. It's also a wake-up call to parents with school-age children. Do we really want our children to grow up to be good factory workers and do as they're told? Do we really want them to buy into the "Good grades=good jobs" myth? Do we want them to believe that the goal in life is to acquire more and more stuff to fuel consumerism? Or should we give them more reflective, unstructured time in childhood to find out who they are, what they like, and how they can contribute to their communities? Dumbing Us Down is a quick, worthwhile read.
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