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Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling Paperback – September 1, 1991

ISBN-13: 978-0865712317 ISBN-10: 086571231X

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers (September 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 086571231X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865712317
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #531,119 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

4.7 out of 5 stars
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If you are a parent, read this book.
TLS
When you read this book, you know that you are reading from someone who had been there and knows exactly what they are talking about.
Paul Fucich
As a teacher who has vowed to home school, I agree with Mr. Gatto.
apoem

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

431 of 450 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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237 of 245 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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188 of 197 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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66 of 70 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
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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