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I read this book after a lifetime of public schooling- from kindergarten to graduate school. In fact, I had trained to be a teacher myself at one point. When I found this book I literally could not put it down. Gatto was stating everything that I had intuitively known was wrong with the American public school system all along in amazing encyclopedic detail. I truly felt like I was reading a secret history that I was never supposed to find out about. I have yet to find a flaw or inaccuracy in any of what he points out- it all has the loud ring of Truth.
The major premise here is that American schooling has been dumbed down to provide mindless, loyal workers who cannot think for themselves. At least this is the schooling provided to the masses. This was a deliberate act with roots in 19th century industrialism. He shows how the Civil War demonstrated to industrialists and financiers how a standardized population trained to follow orders without significant thought could be made to function as a money tree. Moreover, the proper schooling could be used to strip the common population of its power to cause trouble. You see, our global power and corporate wealth is based on a third-rate educational system that actually works against developing men and women of true character and intellect. The mindless bureaucrat and worker who follows a system without thought or question is the pattern that our "efficient" system depends on. That is what schooling produces. One should never confuse schooling with true education- and definitely not with intelligence.
There is just so many fascinating facts here that you will find nowhere else.Read more ›
The amount of history presented in this book is almost overwhelming. At the same time it is compelling to read. I could hardly put the book down. I had no idea how much social engineering takes place in our government schools. This is an eye opening exposure of the hidden agendas that have and are driving our educational system. I disagree with the first reviewer. Corporal punishment in schools of old, is briefly touched on in the beginning of the book.It was not a major position of any kind. I wonder if he/she read more than just the very beginning of the book. If you were educated in the public schools then you should read this book. If anyone that you care about is or will be educated in the public schools then you should read this book.
This is the best book on the subject of schooling I've ran into. I absolutely love this book. He presents evidence to prove his points very clearly. I find his history very accurate, although I'm not an "expert." I would really like anyone to challenge this book just to see if it can be done. The previous review misses the point completely, especially the one that says this book endorses hitting. I question whether that reviewer read any of the book. This book is a work of pure passion and intellect. Even if you hate the subject of education and want to fall asleep whenever the subject comes up, you would find this book fascinating. I think he's my hero. I wish this were written 15 years ago.
Carthago delendum est. The public schools must be destroyed!
That is the thrust of Gatto's book. Gatto, a lifelong teacher in the public system, spent 10 years researching and exposing the deep seated revoltion he had for the system he found himself stuck in.
This is an eye opener for anyone. It will make you rethink not only public schools, but any school. It prompted me to start writing my own book on education (since Gatto admittedly has no alternative and I've been unsatisfied with the many faces of classical education). Gatto's accounts of his own education I found most interesting.
On the whole I think Gatto is correct, although he is somewhat selective, but then I can overlook that since it is an invective and a alarm to free minds and hearts -- or rather a call to arms. Since I have read much on education and am primarily a Latin teacher as well as one very interested in classical education, his book gave me both impetus and pause: an impetus to continue to research the real aims of education (pre-twentieth century) and search for fitting means but also pause because Gatto shows that mandatory k-12 education is a modern invention that for some may be both stultifying and ennervating. He reminds me of a real alternative for many that one can find in that wonderful book (not the movie) "To Kill a Mockingbird".
That said, I must make one comment about his selectivity: Gatto rightly points out that Washington and Franklin were self-educated men, but he overlooks the formal, classical education of a Madison, Jefferson and others. The traditional American education was a mixture of self-educated, self-motived, self-made men and the classically trained (which is a training of the mind in clear thinking, to put it concisely).Read more ›
I would have given this book 5 stars for all of the little-known facts Gatto unearths about the history of education. Industrialists, religious fanatics, eugenicists, and various kinds of psychologists are all shown to have worked their agendas into the American public school system.
But I can't give this book 5 stars, because it also reads like a conspiracy theory. It's poorly organized and tends to draw sweeping conclusions based on quotations, events, or facts taken out of context. And since Gatto doesn't generally cite his sources in detail, it's hard to track down the context. He has a clear agenda (and, for the most part, a noble one), but that doesn't mean he's allowed to exaggerate or present misleading -- and sometimes incorrect -- facts with few sources given.
Particularly when you're making huge claims that most historians have neglected, you need to provide sources. That's the difference between revising history and presenting your own conspiracy theory version of history. Unfortunately, Gatto falls into the latter.
While I believe a lot of what this book says, some of it didn't make sense to me, so I started researching some of Gatto's claims. Generally, he gets things mostly right, but he often misrepresents their significance or juxtaposes them with other things inappropriately to make them fit into his narrative of hatred against the school system. And sometimes what he says is simply wrong.
Since this is a brief review, let me just give one example -- illiteracy. Gatto claims that the registrants tested in the WWII draft had only a 4% illiteracy rate.Read more ›