Review: Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I enjoy fielding questions from other concerned parents about why I homeschool. In most cases their torches and pitchforks wave in the air until I admit having a teacher hidden among the branches of our family tree. Without having that coveted certificate in our bloodline, we are deemed unworthy of passing knowledge unto our offspring. Thanks in part to the work of New York’s teacher of the year (both city and state) John Taylor Gatto, these stigmas are slowly falling away.

Parents or educators seeking Gatto’s words are better served reading his speeches online. This book contains two speeches—one accepting the city award, one accepting the state award—and three other selected writings.

While informative, there is a lot of repetition within these pages. I read about the same Massachusetts senator in each of the five selected readings. Not only is there is a lot of repetition, but there is no organization or flow to the material. The only merit in reading all of the selections would be to gain insight into Gatto’s history and to gain exposure to some of his more radical thoughts.

And therein lays my only disagreement with Gatto: the end book radical proposals. Everything he spoke about in front of his peers, employers, and parents made sense. He spoke on the ills of boxing up our children and mass producing a set curriculum. By the end of the book, in a rarer piece of his writing, he proposes the complete elimination of schooling and teacher certification, setting up free market independent teachers instead.

While I would love to give this book five stars because of who Gatto is and what he has done, I cannot in good faith give such a high rating to a small collection of writings, much of which is repetitive or borderline outlandish.

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