Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory by John Taylor Gatto

By John Taylor Gatto

With over 70,000 copies of the 1st version in print, this radical treatise on public schooling has been a brand new Society Publishers’ bestseller for 10 years! Thirty years in big apple City’s public faculties led John Gatto to the sorrowful end that obligatory education does little yet train youngsters to stick to orders like cogs in an business computer. This moment version describes the time-honored effect of the publication and Gatto’s "guerrilla teaching."

John Gatto has been a instructor for 30 years and is a recipient of the recent York nation instructor of the 12 months award. His different titles contain A varied type of Teacher (Berkeley Hills Books, 2001) and The Underground historical past of yankee Education (Oxford Village Press, 2000).

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Additional resources for Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (10th Anniversary Edition)

Sample text

II Our form of compulsory schooling is an invention of the State of Massachusetts around 1850. It was resisted — sometimes with guns — by an estimated eighty percent of the Massachusetts population, the last outpost in Barnstable on Cape Cod not surrendering its children until the 1880s, when the area was seized by militia and children marched to school under guard. Now here is a curious idea to ponder: Senator Ted Kennedy’s office released a paper not too long ago claiming that prior to compulsory education the state literacy rate was ninety-eight percent and that after it the figure never exceeded ninety-one percent, where it stands in 1990.

Nevertheless, the shock of Manhattan’s very different society and values sharpened my sense of difference and made me an anthropologist as well as a schoolteacher. Over the past thirty years, I’ve used my classes as a laboratory where I could learn a broader range of what human possibility is — the whole catalogue of hopes and fears — and also as a place where I could study what releases and what inhibits human power. During that time, I’ve come to believe that genius is an exceedingly common human quality, probably natural to most of us.

Useless to others and useless to themselves. 23 24 DUMBING US DOWN: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling The daily misery around us is, I think, in large measure caused by the fact that, as Paul Goodman put it thirty years ago, we force children to grow up absurd. Any reform in schooling has to deal with its absurdities. It is absurd and anti-life to be part of a system that compels you to sit in confinement with people of exactly the same age and social class. That system effectively cuts you off from the immense diversity of life and the synergy of variety; indeed, it cuts you off from your own past and future, sealing you in a continuous present much the same way television does.

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