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Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling Paperback – 2 Jan 2002


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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers; 2nd edition (2 Jan. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865714487
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865714489
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1 x 22.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 127,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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About the Author

John Gatto was a teacher in New York City's public schools for over 30 years and is a recipient of the New York State Teacher of the Year award. A much-sought after speaker on education throughout the United States, his other books include A Different Kind of Teacher (Berkeley Hills Books, 2001) and The Underground History of American Education (Oxford Village Press, 2000).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

188 of 193 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Parodi on 10 Jan. 2004
Format: Paperback
It sounds overly dramatic, I know, but I truly feel that John Taylor Gatto has liberated my soul by writing DUMBING US DOWN. But that is exactly what he has done. John Taylor Gatto confirms everything I had always believed about schools: that they are simply cruel prisons where spirits are destroyed and minds are conquered. Easy for me to say, though, seeing as how I myself never did too well in school. John Taylor Gatto, on the other hand, has been named Teacher of the Year several years running by both New York City and State. Here is someone accepted by the teaching establishment, honored by the teaching establishment. He speaks for me and thousands of others who've been tortured in these horrible institutions.
John Taylor Gatto reveals many fascinating, and frightening, things. For example, literacy went down in the US after the advent of compulsory schooling. Yes, more people could read and write before schooling was mandatory. Gatto says this is because reading, writing, and arithmetic only take about 100 hours to transmit, but schools purposefully distort the learning process and intentionally slow down the students' learning so as to justify robbing them of 12 years of their lives while they teach what Gatto refers to as the seven lessons schools really teach:
1. Confusion
2. Class position
3. Indifference
4. Emotional dependency
5. Intellectual dependency
6. Provisional self-esteem
7. One can't hide
It was Adam Robinson's WHAT SMART STUDENTS KNOW that first introduced me to the fact that school distorts the learning process and that if you want to be a good student you basically have to unlearn everything school teaches you about learning. It is Gatto's DUMBING US DOWN that explains *why* school distorts the learning process.
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By P. Cleary on 20 July 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Taylor Gatto's analysis of government schooling as being a form of controlling and suppressing the masses is spot on.

I decided to home educate my kids because I didn't want school to get in the way of their education. Schools don't actually serve individuals very well at all....all they do is provide a steady supply of compliant, conformist, disempowered clone worker consumerists. They do not nurture individuality, critical thinking, love and compassion, but instead cause divisions by creating a kind of caste system where every child quickly learns their place in the pyramid, only to rise to the top by trampling on others and surrendering to rules designed to persecute anyone who deviates from conformity and obedience to the system.

If you think kids should be allowed to grow up and learn in a way that is free from any political agenda, and that the purpose of education is surely not just to raise little conformist consumers to keep the economic machine marching on, then this book is for you. Schools really aren't doing the job they are supposed to do, so maybe it's time we took things into our own hands and those of the children themselves. Kids are often way too smart for school and being held back by idiotic policies and beaurocracy and so on. Search your feelings - you know it's true!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Halifax Student Account on 11 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In Western countries, nearly everybody can read and write. John Taylor Gatto says, 'But what of it'?

To be able to read and write is an advantage, and a considerable one, to deny that would be lunacy. However, it is not a sign of mental quality. It is a tool and a weapon; a means to an end; a very useful thing to propagandize a population. Get them to read so that they can read our slogans!!

Gatto argues that ultimate value of literacy depends upon the end to which it is used. And to what end, is it generally used today? Just look at the level of discourse that passes for debate!

It is used for convenience or for entertainment, by those who read; for some advertisement, or some objectionable propaganda, -- for money-making or power-grabbing -- by those who write; sometimes, of course, by both, for acquiring or spreading disinterested knowledge of the few things worth knowing; for finding expression of or giving expression to the few deep feelings that can lift a man to the awareness of who he really is, rather than what the other guys say he is; but not more often so than in the days in which one man out of ten thousand could understand the symbolism of the written word. Generally, to-day, the man or woman whom compulsory education has made "literate" uses writing to communicate personal matters to absent friends and relatives, to fill forms -- one of the international occupations of modern civilised humanity -- or to commit to memory little useful, but otherwise trifling things such as someone's address or telephone number, or the date of some appointment with the hair-dresser or the dentist, or the list of clean clothes due from the laundry.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 14 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am not going to sum up the book in a couple of paragraphs; you better read it yourself. I have read many books much better written than this, but not every book is capable of making you reconsider so many things that you have always taken for granted, and that is what makes this book special. Even though you do not agree with all its arguments, you will find it hard to refute many of them, and in doing so, you are likely to end up with enough questions to start doubting yourself and the entire education system. The book is barely a hundred pages, and the crucial ones are only a fraction of the book, but those few pages are enough to set your doubts and reflections in motion. I, for one, have already considered home schooling my daughter just after reading this book. If you are curious, read it and then decide by yourself. If you do not read it, you may never know what you missed.
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