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Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (1992)

by John Taylor Gatto

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1,4012510,742 (4.13)11
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 governmental schooling is to blame, accomplishing little but to teach young people to follow orders like cogs in an industrial machine. He became a fierce advocate of families and young people taking back education and learning, arguing that "genius is as common as dirt," but that conventional schooling is driving out the natural curiosity and problem-solving skills we're born with, replacing it with rule-following, fragmented time, and disillusionment. Gatto's radical treatise on public education, a New Society Publishers bestseller for 25 years, continues to bang the drum for an unshackling of children and learning from formal schooling. Now, in an ever-more-rapidly changing world with an explosion of alternative routes to learning, it's poised to continue to shake the world of institutional education for many more years. Featuring a new foreword from Zachary Slayback, an Ivy League dropout and cofounder of tech start-up career foundry Praxis, this 25th anniversary edition will inspire new generations of parents and students to take control of learning and kickstart an empowered society of self-directed lifetime-learners.… (more)
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English (23)  Dutch (1)  All languages (24)
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
While I was prepared for the degree to which this book was an indictment of our public education system, I was unprepared for the degree to which it's an indictment of pretty much our whole society, including education, national government, mass media, etc...

I have to admit that I'm really still digesting the implications of the book and will probably need to re-read shortly. ( )
  jugglebird | Feb 18, 2021 |
This book was okay. The only reason I’m giving it three stars is because it’s very hyperbolic and pretentious at times. I work in special education, so I’m with him that public education can be a nightmare in a lot of ways, and I agree that the federal government should have less power and the individual communities schools belong in should have more. But then he rages against television and fast food and gets all doom and gloom that everybody in America is a mindless idiot. That’s all a bit much. Couldn’t give it higher than 3 stars, despite agreeing with him on many points. ( )
  Jyvur_Entropy | Jan 11, 2021 |
Interesting ideas, quick read. If you think of it more as a transcribed speech than as well-thought-through-expose, and you'll be happy with it. ( )
  pedstrom | Dec 22, 2020 |
I'm not sure what to think about this book; I found myself agreeing with Gatto's thesis despite all of his terrible arguments and proposed solutions for why the government monopoly education system is terrible. The book is in the form of several of Gatto's essays, but I would only suggest reading the first (The Psychopathic School -- coincidentally available online for free at http://theroadtoemmaus.org/RdLb/21PbAr/Ed/GattoPsyPathSchl.htm), as the rest of the book does little but harp on these same topics over and over.

The excerpts from the book that I liked can be found here:
http://sandymaguire.me/books/john-taylor-gatto-dumbing-us-down.html ( )
  isovector | Dec 13, 2020 |
I am so glad I discovered this book. I think everyone should read this. I will be doing further research to educate myself on all sides after reading this. I completely see the correlations Gatto is making. I agree that school is a government serving institution and I believe it's important for children to learn on their own and in nature. I had honestly never thought about the fact that some of the most important and intelligent people of all time never attended a school. ( )
  bookswithmom | Dec 18, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
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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 governmental schooling is to blame, accomplishing little but to teach young people to follow orders like cogs in an industrial machine. He became a fierce advocate of families and young people taking back education and learning, arguing that "genius is as common as dirt," but that conventional schooling is driving out the natural curiosity and problem-solving skills we're born with, replacing it with rule-following, fragmented time, and disillusionment. Gatto's radical treatise on public education, a New Society Publishers bestseller for 25 years, continues to bang the drum for an unshackling of children and learning from formal schooling. Now, in an ever-more-rapidly changing world with an explosion of alternative routes to learning, it's poised to continue to shake the world of institutional education for many more years. Featuring a new foreword from Zachary Slayback, an Ivy League dropout and cofounder of tech start-up career foundry Praxis, this 25th anniversary edition will inspire new generations of parents and students to take control of learning and kickstart an empowered society of self-directed lifetime-learners.

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