DUMBING US DOWN by John Taylor Gatto

by JF

A concise and entirely fabulous work by obviously one of the most profound thinkers of our time. It’s amazing this guy lasted 30 years in the public school system but he did; even more amazing is that Gatto won several awards as a teacher. Really good teachers are seldom recognized in our society; profoundly independent thinkers even less so.

Well Gatto is both, and he correctly and with lazer precision diagnoses the foundational problem behind America’s public school system today. Gatto says the whole thing needs to be dynamited, basically, and hurray at last for a man like this, a true iconoclast, a brilliant thinker who somehow has retained compassion for his fellow humans despite his obviously great learning.

Gatto uses philosophy, history, psychology, personal anecdotes, statistics, common sense–he uses every form of argument and does so quite successfully despite the brevity of this book (106 pages). He rails most often against the compulsory nature of government schooling and how it violates basic human nature and stymies curiosity; if he is extremely cogent in all his other points, he is exquisitely so here.
Although his religious and political worldview is some nominal brand of catholocism and libertarianism (note: these would have to be nominal since they are diametrically opposite in nature) he nevertheless is refreshingly unbiased enough to relish using the Puritans and their congregationalist colonial towns and churches as systems which slavish, corporatized Americans today should emulate.

Although Gatto doesn’t disclose much of the specific material presented in Charlotte Iserbyt’s The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, he nevertheless obliquely refers to such material several times, so it is evident he is either knowledgeable or was becoming knowledgeable at the time of this writing about the true, nefarious history of public schools and how they serve the financial oligarchs of this nation as basically brainwashing detention centers to keep poor and middle class young people ignorant so that they won’t have the critical thinking powers to someday become a threat to the higher castes.

Gatto doesn’t shy away from referring to public schools as “jails” and plenty of other perjoratives, and thank the Lord he doesn’t! Another ingenuous insight of Gatto’s is to compare America’s public school system with the oppressive “Combine” and “the Big Nurse” from the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He hits the nail on the head here: It’s as though Ken Kesey had the American public school system in mind when he first wrote the novel. Indeed, he must have. It took Gatto, though, to decode this for the average American nitwit, the average dumbed-down product of compulsory government asylum education.
This book is a MUST READ for all public school teachers in America, or better yet, those thinking of becoming one. This is one of the most readable paradigm shatterers a mainstream disinformed American citizen might ever come across in their lifetime. This particular reader read the book in half a day.

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