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Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher's Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling Paperback – April 1, 2010
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Gatto demonstrates that the harm school inflicts is rational and deliberate. The real function of pedagogy, he argues, is to render the common population manageable. To that end, young people must be conditioned to rely upon experts, to remain divided from natural alliances and to accept disconnections from their own lived experiences. They must at all costs be discouraged from developing self-reliance and independence.
Escaping this trap requires a strategy Gatto calls "open source learning" which imposes no artificial divisions between learning and life. Through this alternative approach our children can avoid being indoctrinated-only then can they achieve self-knowledge, good judgment, and courage.
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Top Customer Reviews
I was a public school teacher for only a couple of years in the early 60's teaching science and math in a small rural high school. I did not experience the vicious corruption of purpose in the way that John Taylor Gatto did in New York. Never the less, I formed the firm opinion that schools supported by government were a serious mistake in a free society and were dangerous to that society's long-term health. It is small wonder that many of our citizens value freedom so lightly that they appear willing to give it up for an illusion of security. After all, most have been bored and conditioned by 13 years of government schooling to accept authority even without reasons.
We need a full range of competing schools that offer the variety we find in fields such as food growing and delivery. We might also find that such schools carefully look for ways to deliver desired information more rapidly at lower cost. School costs have gone up at the same time quality has gone down. This is the picture of a failing institution, only government life support enables it to continue to miss-educate.
Gatto has done us all a huge service by providing a history of educational thought in America and identified its roots and personalities. You would be correct if you thought my education school classes failed to mention this part of history. After reading his earlier books, I went back and read more thoroughly the musings of John Dewey and others.Read more ›
We have been set free to live our own lives. We are going to let our children grow up with that freedom and take their own education. Largely due to this book I have decided to aggressively further my own education in order to live a truly fulfilling life and make a positive contribution to my country.
I discovered, as I hope you do, that MIT has made their entire undergrad/grad program online FREE-FOR-ALL. Just Google "MIT OPEN".
This book is much more likely to be read than Gatto's The Underground History of American Education: A School Teacher's Intimate Investigation Into the Problem of Modern Schooling because of its shorter length and easy readability. However, there are some problems that come with short-cuts. For one thing, this book is not nearly as well documented as his other books. If you want documentation, you have to read Underground History.
Secondly, Gatto is on a mission in this book and he needlessly attacks those who could be his most avid supporters. As one example, he unfairly attacks Calvinism and Puritanism as part of the cause of our present school dilemma. Modern history has been very successful in demonizing Calvin and the Puritans, but I never trust a history book. Reading the writing of the Puritans themselves has shown me that they were some of the most humble and joyful people who ever lived, and of all groups in history, the ones who fought most successfully for liberty from tyranny in government. While John Calvin and Martin Luther promoted public education, both were very aware of what it could turn into if taken over by the wrong people.Read more ›
One example - William Torrey Harris, US Commissioner of Education from 1889-1906:
"Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual..." (from p. 13)
And because it is Christmas Eve I will keep this review short. (Even though despite the holiday, I'd rather be calling all my friends and urging them to order this book; I am restraining myself however.)
This book is truly Gatto's Magnum opus; I like it better than any of his other books.
His sage observations on the school system, corporate world and consumer-driven culture are brilliant. He even addresses how this country has gone from manufacturing steel to manufacturing "Bubbles" (as in Real Estate bubbles...sound familiar?)
It is my earnest hope and prayer that students everywhere will accept the challenge of the Bartleby Project, which is offered on the last page of the book. Then maybe, just maybe, the dreadful course this country is hell-bent on can begin to change.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
in my opinion, a must-read for all parents who have their kids in any school system.Published 26 days ago by Elizabeth Prospect
Once again, John Taylor Gatto shows us 'where the bodies are buried', so to speak, in the modern system that passes for Education. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Sage
This is a must read.When i was young and going to school i always felt that the school system was holding me back. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
Read only half the book. Didn't find his argument convincing. It came across more as a personal rant rather than a convincing argument. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Tamara
This book began to turn my world upside down with regard to my understanding of the history of public education in the US. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Fluffo
John Taylor Gatto is one of my heroes. I was very fortunate to reach him on a long distance telephone call in his New York home. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Ramon Thomas