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Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, 10th Anniversary Edition Paperback – February 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In this tenth-anniversary edition, Gatto updates his theories on how the U.S. educational system cranks out students the way Detroit cranks out Buicks. He contends that students are more programmed to conform to economic and social norms rather than really taught to think.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

This radical treatise on public education has been a New Society Publishers' bestseller for 10 years! Thirty years of award-winning teaching in New York City's public schools led John Gatto to the sad conclusion that compulsory governmental schooling does little but teach young people to follow orders as cogs in the industrial machine. In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of Dumbing Us Down and to keep this classic current, we are renewing the cover art, adding new material about John and the impact of the book, and a new Foreword.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers; 2nd edition (February 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865714487
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865714489
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (301 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More 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).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

243 of 251 people found the following review helpful By apoem TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 19, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Everyone who has something to do with children should read this book: Educators, parents, counselors and employers.
This is not a book about solutions- This is a book about recognizing the problem. As we know, recognizing the problem is the first step to correcting the situation.
This is a series of essays and speaches the author has written about education in the United States. Mr. Gatto is an award winning teacher who has taken the brave step of stating what he sees wrong with education. As only someone who has worked in the system for so long can really see the problems, he not only sees the problems, he shares them with the rest of the nation.
As a teacher who has quit to stay at home with my children, I agree whole heartedly with Mr. Gatto. As a teacher who has vowed to home school, I agree with Mr. Gatto.
Education does what it was set up to do- to teach the masses, to tame the unruly individual thinkers, and more. Mr. Gatto's seven lessons that school teaches is exactly on target. Unfortunately.
How do we change the education system? It will take a shift of thinking across the nation. This book is just a small drop in the tidal wave of events that needs to happen. Each person reading this book and acting on it only adds to the rising wave of education reform.
Truly a well thought out book written by a brave man who was willing to put his job and living on the line for what he believes.
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432 of 452 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Brattan on March 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
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.
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192 of 201 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 6, 1997
Format: Paperback
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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99 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Elisheva H. Levin on February 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
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.
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