Thursday, June 7, 2007

Dumbing us Down

The other night I sat down and read the book Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto. Wow! What a book. Short and sweet, but profoundly insightful. John Taylor Gatto earned the award of Teacher of the Year for three years, until one day he quit teaching because he was tired of "harming children" with the cumpolsury curriculum and hidden agenda of American Education. He's part of an effort to transform education in America.

There were so many wonderful points he made in his book. My favorite was how it is understood that the family is the key to a healthy society. However, schools are the major cause of a weak family and weak communities.

"They separate parents and children from vital interaction with each other and from true curisoity about each other's lives. Schools stifle family originality by appropriating the critical time needed for any sound idea of family to develop - then blame the family for its failure to be a family."

Further, he goes on to remind us how, in addition to robbing the family of time together to develop healthy relationships, they send the children home from school with hours of homework - further keeping the family from healthy and fulfilling interaction with one another.

He also states that schools place the children in an unreal and artificial world where time sort of stands still. There is no history or family or belonging outside of the hear and now of each school day. The students learn to live in the now, and have no consideration for the past or the future. They have no link or connection with adults, it's all about same age peers. It's so detrimental to their ability to connect with other people outside their present-tense world.

Additionally, the constant bell ringing, telling the students its time to drop what they are learning and move on to the next unrelated topic, gives them a sense of chaos in education, and nothing seems really very valuable or worth learning.

He also describes the way children are sent to school and therein learn from others what their position is in society. There are the winners and the favorites, an arbitrary title that could be lost any moment, and the losers - labeled such by teachers and peers inspite of the truth about who they really are, their uniqueness and their special giftedness - which may not be of any value in the rigged competition they must endure every day, but would be greatly valuable in the community.

Another point, with which I concurred was he termed intellectual dependency. The students are dependent on the teacher (and the textbooks) to tell them what to think. They must think this and regurgitate it for the test, proving they have digested it hook, line and sinker. They are not allowed to think, question and are given no opportunity to decide what they wish to learn or which books they will read to learn it. They must sit and have a teacher lecture to them. They are dependent upon this teacher, and are not trained to take responsiblity for their education, and they are never empowered to do so.

Can you, who were not homeschooled, relate to these descriptions? Do you remember this in your own life? I certainly do.

1 comment:

Atlmom5 said...


I would like to say,Hello and I most defintely must get that book. I keep hearing wonderful things about it. I'm not a full time homeschooling parent. My kids attend public school,but I really try to instill many of those principles in the book.