Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, 10th Anniversary Edition
John Taylor Gatto
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
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).
sequences are crazy. There is no particular reason for any of them, nothing that bears close scrutiny. Few teachers would dare to teach the tools whereby dogmas of a school or a teacher could be criticized, since everything must be accepted. School subjects are learned, if they can be 3 4 DUMBING US DOWN: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling learned, like children learn the catechism or memorize the Thirty-nine Articles of Anglicanism. I teach the un-relating of everything, an
teaching: confusion, class position, indifference, emotional and intellectual dependency, conditional self-esteem, and surveillance. All of these lessons are prime training for permanent underclasses, people deprived forever of finding the center of their own special genius. And over time this training has shaken loose from its original purpose: to regulate the poor. For since the 1920s the growth of the school bureaucracy as well as the less visible growth of a horde of industries that profit
telescoping the next 25 years of his career, Gatto tells us the way out. “The way out of the asylum,” he writes, “is literally to throw out the control panel, on a physical level smashing the reinforced windows, on a symbolic spiritual level becoming independent of rules, orders, and other people’s urgencies.” “Self-reliance,” he concludes, “is the antidote to institutional stupidity.” We should all express our gratitude that John Gatto took his own advice and, beginning with Dumbing Us Down, has
down. Was it possible I had been hired not to enlarge children’s power, but to diminish it? That seemed crazy on the face of it, but slowly I began to realize that the xxxiii xxxiv DUMBING US DOWN: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling bells and the confinement, the crazy sequences, the agesegregation, the lack of privacy, the constant surveillance, and all the rest of the national curriculum of schooling were designed exactly as if someone had set out to prevent children from
learning how to think and act, to coax them into addiction and dependent behavior. Bit by bit I began to devise guerrilla exercises to allow as many of the kids I taught as possible the raw material people have always used to educate themselves: privacy, choice, freedom from surveillance, and as broad a range of situations and human associations as my limited power and resources could manage. In simpler terms, I tried to maneuver them into positions where they would have a chance to be their own