• Dumbing Us Down

  • The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
  • By: John Taylor Gatto
  • Narrated by: Michael Puttonen
  • Length: 3 hrs and 19 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (1,135 ratings)

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Dumbing Us Down

By: John Taylor Gatto
Narrated by: Michael Puttonen
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Publisher's Summary

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. With over 100,000 copies in print since its original publication in 2002, this book is collection of essays and speeches and contains a description of the wide-spread impact of the book and Gatto's "guerrilla teaching".

About the author: John Gatto was a teacher in New York City's public schools for over 30 years and is a recipient of the New York State Teacher of the Year award. A much sought after speaker on education throughout North America, his other books include Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling, A Different Kind of Teacher, and The Underground History of American Education.

©2002 John Taylor Gatto (P)2012 Post Hypnotic Press, Inc

What listeners say about Dumbing Us Down

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Very insightful.

Any additional comments?

I don't know why I took so long to purchase this title! Definitely a food for thought listen, and not just for those disenchanted with the traditional schooling experience. I came away challenged to change the way my children are being educated, and we home educate!

11 people found this helpful

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He speaks the truth because he was a cog

what we all thought about our school-experience but were afraid to say outloud. Tremendously moving.

11 people found this helpful

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Required reading to see why kids hate school

What made the experience of listening to Dumbing Us Down the most enjoyable?

This book is a collection of essays that were written by a highly decorated teacher discussing the ways he was ashamed to a pert of the American schooling process- I keep remembering him talking about how he would grant permission for a child to use the bathroom knowing they did not have to go- that they just wanted water to move around but he would consider this a kind of favor to be repaid, He mostly talks about how the current system kills the natural curiosity of children and ensures that they will despise learning and intellectual topics. For those wondering the only semi solution given is home school and there really is not a lot of advice in there for people who want to start homeschooling

What other book might you compare Dumbing Us Down to and why?

There are some good movies that follow this theme-- The War on Kids, The Cartel -and- Waiting for Superman.

If you could give Dumbing Us Down a new subtitle, what would it be?

The broken format of your kids' school

10 people found this helpful

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Paranoid ravings of an anarchist

Any additional comments?

This book was so dreadful that I hardly know where to begin. On the outset, I will disprove the author’s contention that no good deeds can emanate from a publically-schooled person. Given the opportunity to return this book to audible.com for a full refund, I declined so that I may write this review, thus hopefully saving others from wasting their time and money.

John Taylor Gatto does start well by enumerating seven true enough points about school. (I think that most of us can agree that the public school system has problems.) They are:

1. It makes the children confused. It presents an incoherent ensemble of information that the child needs to memorize to stay in school. Apart from the tests and trials that programming is similar to the television, it fills almost all the "free" time of children. One sees and hears something, only to forget it again.
2. It teaches them to accept their class affiliation.
3. It makes them indifferent.
4. It makes them emotionally dependent.
5. It makes them intellectually dependent.
6. It teaches them a kind of self-confidence that requires constant confirmation by experts (provisional self-esteem).
7. It makes it clear to them that they cannot hide, because they are always supervised.

From here, things go way downhill. The next three hours are dedicated to asserting (although not explaining nor backing with statistical evidence) the author’s main argument that school is the root of all evil including, but not limited to, the breakdown of family, community, and society in general. He expresses a longing for the good ole days when kids had mischievous fun – he is proud to have been a juvenile delinquent having been arrested three times – and people didn’t have non-propagatory sex. He is tormented by modern society and has appealed to the reader to do what they can to sabotage schools, as he admits to have done and, one can only assume, continues to do. I contend that Gatto (and society in general) would be better if he joined Glenn Beck and his fellow anarchists in Beck’s planned utopian city of Independence, USA where young’uns would know how to make their own rocking chairs and crossbows and education is strictly home-grown.

Yes, the public education system is broken. A sane and rational approach to the problem is definitely needed, but that is something that this book does not provide.

9 people found this helpful

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Astonishing

To listen to this book and recognize denied thoughts about formal schooling is astonishing. In the age of the computer it is hard to imagine institutionalized compulsory schooling still exists.

8 people found this helpful

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Excellent and inspirational

Answers many questions of why we feel short changed and unfulfilled on completion of our academic sentence.

Would recommend to anyone who has stumbles upon it ( that's serendipity) and is half thinking of reading / listening.




6 people found this helpful

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Wonderfully written

This is my most favorite book so far! It explains so much that is wrong with Society today! I pulled my own daughter out of public schooling her last 4 years! I was so happy to see her gain confidence that she never had while being schooled. No I understand what damages it had cases her in her young life.

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A valuable perspective

My professor suggested I read this as my interest in the flaws of education and the disconnect from the "real world" were so great that they brought me to question it. I don't agree with everything the others states but the core ideas and the over arching truth that this current system is not the way was clearly presented and better defined than any other resource I have found. Read it and see!

4 people found this helpful

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Earth Shattering Truths Well Told

Read this book and understand why modern public education does not work and can not be reformed. Written by an award winning public school teacher who offers real ideas for an alternative approach to how we raise children in the 21st Century.

4 people found this helpful

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Engaging Book and Philosophy

This is a very powerful treatise on the state of the American school system. It met my expectations based on the title. The author gives many convincing examples to support the "Dumbing Us Down". I thought back many times to my education and wished I could have a "do over". If you are considering homeschooling your child, this book will give you the push you need.





3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dave
  • 09-06-16

The most intelligent exposé of schooling.

The "education" industry is the mental plague of the modern world. As it gets more protracted, more expensive and more centrally controlled, the bonsai people, who are it's product, become increasingly disinterested in learning anything important, and invincibly ignorant.

The proof is in the pudding. Schooling does not support individual education and becoming potent, competent, responsible adults, because it is designed to do the opposite!

Gatto doesn't confine himself to one "subject" but calls upon history, philosophy, religion, anthropology etc. to illustrate his thesis.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Dan Lewis
  • 10-03-22

Observably true in 2022

Our youth are observably dumber than previous generations, completely indoctrinated with political rhetoric and radical ideology, they no longer have sense of reality. Sad times.

Education has unfortunately been replaced with indoctrination

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-11-22

If I were on the fence.....this book.

I was already sold on home school/ unschooling from reading John Holt. This book has instilled a militant realisation of the importance of that choice.
Highly recommended.

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  • Rad
  • 05-15-22

Dumbing Us Down

This work of Mr. Gatto is eyes opening piece!
I’m sure I’ll go through this book many times over and also study his website.
It is journey which allows you to finally understand why is all so terrible wrong and shows it all starting at school where humanity get trapped in that deadly downward spiral!

Highly recommending to all ages readers.

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  • Amazon_Customer
  • 02-04-22

enlightening

highly recommended reading for educators, parents, students and anyone with a capacity to think for themselves.

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  • Kristie W
  • 08-09-21

Brilliant.

Just brilliant. Puts into words everything I've felt throughout my life but couldn't verbalise regarding the school system. It left me upset and angry about my own experience, but more determined than ever to give my children an entirely different life. A fantastically thought-provoking book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-21-21

Pure truth.

These are the exact frustrations I felt after graduating school. Only worded much better. Thanks.

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  • I Coleborn
  • 06-13-20

Something we all know deep in our hearts

A beautifully narrated and presented book. From a truly questioning mind with no agenda other than the genuine ambition to responsibly take his own role in schooling seriously and to care from a fundamental level. What a lovely man.

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  • Abu-Sufyaan Patel
  • 11-20-19

Great Book, Great Content!

This is a MUST-READ book for every parent, teacher, school leader and anyone involved in education in any capacity.

The tone of the narrator is occasionally dull and uninspiring although this definitely doesn’t take anything away from the quality of the book itself and the credentials of the author.

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  • Kevin
  • 03-16-16

Inciting. This is John Taylor Gatto's genius

Inciting. This is John Taylor Gatto's genius. I didn't understand schooling while I was there, even though I now love learning. Thanks to Gatto's book I have learnt about the true motives behind forced schooling and will continue to learn more about the world at large.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-09-22

Thought provoking

Inspiring, illuminating and terrifying. Great read for home educators or those who can feel deep in their bones there is a better way for our children.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-03-22

just brilliant

hard to believe this was written in 1990s. Way ahead of its time.
Goes a long way to explain so many problems in this world.

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  • Snobster
  • 12-10-20

Biased, bitter & boring

I was mostly disappointed by this book.
While the author made some good points about how the schooling system can be detrimental, particularly in regards to children’s creativity and finding sense of self, I found that most of his examples were incredibly biased. “Children watch 55 hours of television per week” - where? What children?

The narrative was also repetitive. He reiterated the same points over and over, without giving new, or indeed any, evidence.

I found this to be the ramblings of an old, bitter man, nostalgic for the days of his youth and sure that he knows better than these young whipper snappers...
I found myself bored.

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  • Sally Cornish
  • 03-29-18

Mind blown

This is my second of his books and it simply is one of the easiest books to listen to. It has also made some upcoming decision much clearer.
Thank you thank you thank you!!!