No. 593, August 25, 2008
read by Jonas Himmelstrand
Do any revolutionary ideas on schooling and learning exist on the international scene today? Yes, there is John Taylor Gatto. His now classic book, Dumbing us down first published 1992, is still printed and is more important than ever.
Gatto is a true revolutionary in his view of school and learning. His knowledge is solid after 30 years as a school teacher in New York City, both in poor and affluent school districts. Gatto has won several "Teacher of the Year"- awards.
Gatto contends that school dehumanises students, teachers and school administrators. According to Gatto school teaches; confused students by serving every subject out of context; to stay in your class; indifference; emotional and intellectual dependency; conditional self-esteem and that there is no space for privacy.
School takes time away from real learning which happens in attached relationships, says Gatto: in families, with mentors and in true communities which relate to the whole person. When motivated it does not take more than about 100 hours to teach anyone the basics for self-learning; reading, writing and arithmetic. The success of home schooling proves the point, argues Gatto.
You will never see schooling in the same way after reading Dumbing us down. It literally wakes you up. Being an English teacher Gatto writes excellently with reason, passion and many examples. This is a highly important book in the knowledge society, as it shows that school, as we know it, cannot survive in a society in need of true knowledge, personal maturity and wisdom. Strongly recommended.
Dumbing us down, by John Taylor Gatto.
New Society Publishers 2002. ISBN 0865714487. 144 pages.
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