Friday, April 22, 2016

USA Mediocrity in Education

Dumbing Us Down:
The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling,
10th Anniversary Edition Paperback
– February 1, 2002

by John Taylor Gatto (Author), Thomas Moore (Foreword)
With over 70,000 copies of the first edition in print, this radical treatise on public education has been a New Society Publishers’ bestseller for 10 years! Thirty years in New York City’s public schools led John Gatto to the sad conclusion that compulsory schooling does little but teach young people to follow orders like cogs in an industrial machine. This second edition describes the wide-spread impact of the book and Gatto’s "guerrilla teaching."

John Gatto has been a teacher for 30 years and is a recipient of the New York State Teacher of the Year award. His other titles include A Different Kind of Teacher (Berkeley Hills Books, 2001) and The Underground History of American Education (Oxford Village Press, 2000).

= = = = = = = =Amazon Customer Review = = = = = = =

5 Stars
Real learning demands individuality, not regimentation.
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. He even goes so far as to argue for the removal of certification requirements for teachers, and letting "anybody who wants to, teach."
Gatto's style of writing is simple and easy to follow. He interlaces personal stories throughout the book to bring clarity and harmony to his views, while also drawing on logic and history to support his ideas about freedom in education and a return to building community. He clearly distinguishes communities from networks: "Communities ... are complex relationships of commonality and obligation," whereas, "Networksdon't require the whole person, but only a narrow piece."
While Gatto harshly criticizes schooling, we must realize that his opinions do come as a result of 26 yearsof experience and frustration with the public school system. Unfortunately, whether or not one agrees with his solutions, he has not outlined the logistics of how these improvements would be implemented. His ideas are based on idealism, and the reality of numbers and economics would present many obstacles. Nevertheless, it gives us a clear vision and a direction to follow for teachers and parents who believe in the family as the most important agent for childrearing and growth.

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