Dumbing Us Down

  • by John Taylor Gatto
  • Narrated by Michael Puttonen
  • 3 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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.

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- Diane

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


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- Niall

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-09-2012
  • Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press, Inc.