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


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Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, 10th Anniversary Edition + Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher's Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling + How Children Learn (Classics in Child Development)
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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: 8.9 x 6.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

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).

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

Everyone who ever went to school, all parents and definitely all teachers should read this book.
Mm Dickson
John Gatto is the master of describing the defunct school system with an excellent source of background references that will set you on your journey to true education.
Lee Lizik
Read these books, get inspired, and live the life you want to live -- or help your kids live the lives they want.
A. Hoy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Laura Gilkey on November 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
I would recommend this book for anyone concerned about the problems of public, institutionalized education. It raises important challenges, the kind that are hidden in plain sight and often go unaddressed. As someone who survived K-Bacchelaureate with straight A's and psychological scars, only to learn too late that the words "Summa Cum Laude" on my degree were my reward in full, I find that many of Gatto's charges against institutional schools ring utterly true. Such schools teach their structure more than any content, and that that structure's facetious fragmentation of time and content, its pigeonholing of students by age, its usurpation of all personal privacy and dignity, and its very compulsory nature are actively hostile to the humanity and self-sufficiency we should want for students.

To me, however, Gatto's proposed solutions become problematic. His prescription is for true communities of a kind that perhaps no one I know---not even my parents and grandparents---can actually reconcile with the environment they grew up in. One friend in particular was disturbed by his proposed solutions because she was the child of a poor, single, and rather dysfunctional mother who was not well-equipped to facilitate her education without the availability of some kind of public school. Any solution to the school problem must address such situations, rather than simply trusting that all families and all communities will be functional and will meet children's needs if left to themselves.

Chapter 5, "The Congregational Principle," which focuses on proposed solutions, disturbs me most. Gatto vacillates from praising Socrates' condemnation of the Sophists for taking money to teach to espousing unleashing pure market forces on education.
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59 of 61 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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53 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Parodi TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 16, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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