Book Review: Dumbing Us Down – The Hidden Curriculum Of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto

A Truly Must-Read Book Exposing The Current Dismal State Of Public Schooling

dumbingusdown
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
January 11, 2017

John Taylor Gatto is an award winning teacher that isn’t afraid to buck the trend.

Dumbing Us Down – The Hidden Curriculum Of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto is a masterly an in-depth view into how public schooling really works.

Sampling many of his best personal essays, Dumbing Us Down features the true reasons why education in our modern day system is failing: because it’s meant to be that way.

Gatto reinforces his main premise with a thorough examination of public schooling in America.  He carries this out rather incisively given his no holds barred approach to the matter, and this is very refreshing.

While many others have tippy toed their way around the issue, Gatto harpoons the heart of the matter with statements such as:

“…schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet.  No one believes anymore that scientists are trained in science classes or politicians in civics classes or poets in English classes.  The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders.”[1][Bold Emphasis Added]

Schools are intended to produce, through the application of formulas, formulaic human beings whose behavior can be predicted and controlled.”[2][Bold Emphasis Added]

It is absurd and anti-life to be part of the 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.”[3][Bold Emphasis Added]

Such scathing statements leave no question to Gatto’s courageous stance, and helps the reader understand the plight we face rather cogently.

Another component of this ongoing public schooling issue is how vital the community is, and more importantly, the family unit, in helping foster a healthier, more independent, more curious, and ultimately more self-sufficient individuals through proper education.  While this might seem obvious in hindsight, it isn’t being employed that much at all in our modern environs.

Throughout the length of the book, Gatto fiercely touches upon the many different factors that have helped cause this growing dilemma.  Some of these include the overwhelming amount of television being watched by society in general, and more specifically by children, while other components have to deal with the inherent designs of schooling such as the fragmentation of education, the removal of the family from an individual’s education, the poor life tenets individuals are taught, and much more.

One of the best parts of the book is what Gatto calls ‘The 7-Lesson School Teacher’, where the author shows what teachers are truly expected to inculcate into students.  Once read, this particular lesson to the reader might seem facetious, but it’s really not.  When one views what Gatto is stating with an open mind –  while keeping cognizance of the fact that he worked decades for the system – then one completely gets to be aware of why failure in schooling isn’t the exception, but the rule.

In fact, more specifically, Gatto gets at the heart of why public schooling is destined to fail:

Mass education cannot work to produce a fair society because its daily practice  is practice in rigged competition, suppression and intimidation.  The schools we’ve allowed to develop can’t work to teach nonmaterial values, the values which give meaning to everyone’s life, rich or poor, because the structure of schooling is held together by a Byzantine tapestry of reward and threat, of carrots and sticks.  Official favor, grades, and other trinkets of subordination have no connection with education; they are the paraphernalia of servitude, not of freedom.”[4][Bold Emphasis Added]

Gatto has unbounded a phenomenal book in the field of public schooling and more importantly, what true education should encompass.  Please keep in mind, schooling and education are not the same thing.  Particularly, this differentiation and what each means is one of the main gems of this book.

To finalize, this book is a veritable fountain of information that is intense in precision and thought-provoking in its implications given that they filter into all aspects of our lives, and ultimately seep into the future.  This is why it’s vitally important for individuals to become autodidacts, and help others become so through our interactions with our families and communities.  Self-teaching is more important now than ever, especially with the deteriorating effects of public schooling.

Because of all the reasons mentioned above, and myriad more, this book is definitely a must read for everyone.

As the author saliently notes:

“Aristotle saw, a long time ago, that fully participating in a complex range of human affairs was the only way to become fully human…”[5][Bold Emphasis Added]

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Sources & References:

[1] John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down – The Hidden Curriculum Of Compulsory Schooling, pg. 21.
[2] Ibid., pg. 23.
[3] Ibid., pg. 24.
[4] Ibid., pg. 69.
[5] Ibid., pg. 47.

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Suggested resources reviewed below for those seeking ideas to self-teach and become autodidacts:

Socratic Logic V3.1 by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.
How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren
Philosophy 101 – An Introduction To Philosophy Via Plato’s Apology by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
The Complete Workbook For Arguments – A Complete Course In Critical Thinking [2nd Ed.] by David R. Morrow & Anthony Weston
The Imaginative Argument – A Practical Manifesto For Writers by Frank L. Cioffi

The following books reviewed below cover the disturbing issues within the public schooling system:

Rotten To The Common Core by Dr. Joseph P. Farrell Ph.D.& Gary Lawrence
A Different Kind Of Teacher – Solving The Crisis Of American Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
Weapons Of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto
Drilling Through The Core, by Sandra Stotsky & Contributors

 

U.S. Kids Keep Getting Dumber; Ranked 31st Of 35 Developed Nations In Math, New Study Reveals

Common Core
Source: ZeroHedge.com
December 15, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education has just released it’s latest ranking of international education systems (Program for International Student Assessment – “PISA”) and performance of U.S. students just continues to deteriorate on both absolute and relative terms.

Perhaps it’s time to have a real conversation about the complete failure of “Common Core” and the idiocy of allowing teachers’ unions to hold our children hostage while hiding behind ridiculous contracts that grant tenure after 6 months and make it impossible to fire underperformers.  Just a thought for the incoming Trump administration.

The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss summed up the problems nicely:

There are many reasons children aren’t learning anything during the long hours they spend in government schools. Sometimes, their teachers don’t show up to work because they’re out on the teachers union picket line demanding taxpayers pick up the tab for their plastic surgery. Other times, students are forced to sit in classes led by totally unqualified teachers who will never leave because they’re protected by tenure.

 

For every disgraceful teacher, though, there are tons of good ones who are doing their best. The problem often isn’t teachers’ incompetence, it’s that they’re forced to instruct kids using rubbish. Look at the Common Core State Standards, which were adopted initially by 46 states because their federal education funding depended on it. The math is backwards, confusing, and, as the National Review so suitably dubbed it, “dumb.” The reading standards fill students’ minds with filth in the form of raunchy books and with yawn-inducing “informational texts.”

 

Our schools no longer teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. Rather than be taught how to think and problem-solve, children are thought what to think and how to feel. All these money-making and money-spending schemes tend to sound nice, of course, but they inevitably fall flat.

Now the results….in math, the U.S. ranked 40th in the world and 31st out of the 35 developed countries that provide data to the study…somewhat less than ideal.

Math 1

 

Meanwhile, nearly 30% of the 15-year-olds in the U.S. were found to rank in the bottom two (of 5) proficiency tiers.

Math

 

Unfortunately the story isn’t much better with reading and science proficiency.  The U.S. ranked 24th in the world on the study’s “reading literacy scale”…

Reading

 

…and 25th in science.

Education

 

And, of course, performance has been deteriorating for the past decade.

Education Trend

 

In conclusion, this about sums it up:

Common Core

 

Here is the full study from the U.S. Department of Education:

Read More At: ZeroHedge.com

Australian Educator: Computers In The Classroom A Scandalous Waste

GizaDeathStar.com
Dr. Joseph P. Farrell
April 6, 2016

It’s been a while since I’ve ranted and raved about the deplorable state of education in the USSA and its subservient allies, so I am going to have to do so today, thanks to an article shared by Ms. D.O.  In this case, my rant is really someone else’s rant, and his rant came from Australia, which like many other countries in the west, as been suffering the American disease: standardized tests without end, corporate favoritism for the corporations providing the tests and “texts”, and a war on the student-teacher-parent relationship, i.e., a war on the human element.

Computers in class ‘a scandalous waste’: Sydney Grammar head

Here’s the core of the argument, and I’m conflating several paragraphs together so that you can see that the same in is happening in Australia as is happening in the USSA, for those lucky enough to be able to afford sending their children to such schools:

The headmaster of Sydney Grammar School, John Vallance, yesterday described the billions of dollars spent on computers in Australian schools over the past seven years as a “scandalous waste of money’’.

“I’ve seen so many schools with limited budgets spending a disproportionate amount of their money on technology that doesn’t really bring any measurable, or non-measurable, benefits,’’ he said.

Continue Reading At: GizaDeathStar.com

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Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and “strange stuff”. His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into “alternative history and science”.