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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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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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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!!!

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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.

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  • Chelle
  • 16-07-2015

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!

10 people found this helpful

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  • Cathy D. Schouten
  • 28-04-2015

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.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Fleming
  • 03-03-2016

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.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Les
  • 18-10-2015

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.




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  • Shawna
  • 31-12-2018

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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Niall
  • 25-06-2012

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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  • Lorbear
  • 06-05-2015

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.





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  • Jake
  • 03-04-2015

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!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Magnus
  • 01-04-2015

Illuminating

Loved it finish the book in two days could not put it down one of the most illuminating pieces of literature on education I have ever read.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Bill
  • 08-03-2015

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Dave
  • 06-09-2016

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 21-04-2021

Pure truth.

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

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  • I Coleborn
  • 13-06-2020

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
  • 20-11-2019

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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