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on 6 November 1997
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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on 12 July 1999
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.
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on 3 December 1997
Even if you don't have children in a government sponsored school, you owe it to yourself to read Gatto's book. In it you'll find some of the reasons why many believe our society is ethically and morally bankrupt. You'll come to an understanding of why kids dislike school, and how the greater percentage are no longer interested in reading, much less writing. Gatto is ringing the bell, metaphorically and otherwise.
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on 10 January 2017
Stay way from this edition. it is 88 pages, not 120 as indicated, and anyway, the book should be some 320 pages. Can't say if is a case of censorship or not, but I have noticed it in other books. I was silly enough to not check before buying, I think I will buy the unabridged edition end compare the two. Anyway, amazon offers cheaper books, but it is starting this sort of censorship. Another tecnique is to keep prices terribly high for some kind of books.
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on 15 February 2015
Excellent expose on public schools and their woeful outcomes.
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on 18 April 2015
Every teacher should read this
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on 28 January 1999
John Gatto is such an original thinker. i can't get enough of his ideas. I have other stuff by him, but i wish he would put out the book about families that he talked about. This book is outstanding, especially to understand the behavior of children in school settings.
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