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Dumbing Us Down By John Taylor Gato (Book Notes)

Dumbing us Down Book Cover
(Last Updated On: 9 May 2022)

Young people are indifferent to the adult world and to the future, indifferent to almost everything except the diversion of toys and violence.

john taylor gato

Dumbing Us Down – 25th Anniversary Edition: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
By John Taylor Gattoo
Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover

The Seven Lessons of Schooling:

The first chapter of this book is a speech Gato had delivered upon receiving an award: New York State Teacher of the Year 1991. The speech is marked by its humor and its deliberate use irony. And even though Gato is not immune from bias, like everyone of us—his views are influenced by Libertarianism, and he is skeptic about the theory of evolution by natural selection, and it shows in the text—his seven lesson about schooling are worth reading and thinking about:

  1. Confusion
  2. Class Position: By numbering kids since primary school, we are implicitly convincing them that there is rarely a way out of their classes; that they should expect to remain in their place in the pyramid for the rest of their lives.
  3. Indifference: Constantly making pupils hopping from one subject to another, teachers often expect children to be able to instantly switch their attention (“They must turn on and off like a light switch.”) from one subject to the next upon hearing the order to do so.
  4. Emotional Dependency
  5. Intellectual Dependency: By training them to follow orders, jump from subject to another or drop their pens at the order of their teacher, schooled children will believe that the best choices for their own lives are the ones that are made on behalf of them by “experts”
  6. Provisional Self-esteem: Schools can open doors for you, but they also act as systems of filtering out the, and selecting the compliant and obedient because they are the ones needed to keep our economies and modern lives running. That’s why it’s important to grade children on their performance using standardized tests early on, and start convincing them that a grade will them for life—making or breaking their futures.
  7. One Can’t Hide: The absence/impossibility of privacy for children in schools and the awareness of the constant surveillance

Schools and Mental Health:

Suicide rates may had been higher among rich teenagers in America decades ago, as John Taylor Gato notes in this book, but when we examine the adult population today inside the United States, we have a different story.1

Gatto’s Vision for a Self-Directed “guerrilla” Education:

Self-education is the mark of a tough, independent, resilient, and self-reliant individual. Johnn Taylor Gatto argues for giving families more freedom and power to choose what’s the best education for their own kids. Twelve years of compulsory schooling in America has been destructing family life—and it has destructed any hope of breeding educated and mature kids with it.

Gatto favors going back to key local values of home and community life. Among them: self-reliance, courage, dignity, love, perseverance, and self-motivation.

Gatto Lays Down The Six Functions of Schooling:

  1. The adjustive/adaptive function
  2. The conformity function
  3. The diagnostic/directive function
  4. The differentiating function
  5. The selective/eliminating function
  6. The propaedeutic function

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  1. Eric B Elbogen, Megan Lanier, Ann Elizabeth Montgomery, Susan Strickland, H Ryan Wagner, Jack Tsai, Financial Strain and Suicide Attempts in a Nationally Representative Sample of US Adults, American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 189, Issue 11, November 2020, Pages 1266–1274