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Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher's Journey Through the…

af John Taylor Gatto

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323761,430 (4.22)1
The transformation of schooling from a twelve-year jail sentence to freedom to learn. John Taylor Gatto's Weapons of Mass Instruction , now available in paperback, focuses on mechanisms of traditional education which cripple imagination, discourage critical thinking, and create a false view of learning as a byproduct of rote-memorization drills. Gatto's earlier book, Dumbing Us Down , introduced the now-famous expression of the title into the common vernacular. Weapons of Mass Instruction adds another chilling metaphor to the brief against conventional schooling. Gatto demonstrates that the harm school inflicts is rational and deliberate. The real function of pedagogy, he argues, is to render the common population manageable. To that end, young people must be conditioned to rely upon experts, to remain divided from natural alliances and to accept disconnections from their own lived experiences. They must at all costs be discouraged from developing self-reliance and independence. Escaping this trap requires a strategy Gatto calls "open source learning" which imposes no artificial divisions between learning and life. Through this alternative approach our children can avoid being indoctrinated-only then can they achieve self-knowledge, good judgment, and courage.… (mere)
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If you stop and think about the waste of time it is to sit in a desk for 6-8 hours a day, for five days a week for 13 years to learn how to read, add and subtract, count money and maybe a few history facts, you would be on to something. And to have to sit there not moving, not talking, not really thinking either, it is a travesty.

The public schools are an institution and they will never be fixed because too many jobs and too much money is at stake. I feel bad for teachers who really want to teach, but have to force kids to memorize stuff for tests, that students have to take too often for no real reason.

Gatto is a former school teacher and tried his best to actually teach, but of course he wasn't appreciated for it. He did win teacher of the year a couple times, but by then, he saw the light and didn't want to be chained to the institution anymore.

I am so blessed to home school my kids and am reminded why I chose to make this sacrifice. This book reinforces my decision to do so. ( )
  MichelleConnell | Sep 26, 2018 |
This is without a doubt the most important book I have read in several years. His recap of Alexander Inglis's six functions of modern schooling (from Inglis's "Principles of Secondary Education") in his prologue hooked me immediately. John Taylor Gatto opened America's eyes to the problems of compulsory education in 1991 in "Dumbing Us Down". With "Weapons of Mass Instruction", he continues his crusade against the establishment he was a part of for 30 years. To think there was a deliberate plan to create the mind-numbing schools I managed to survive is maddening. As is everything else he talks about.



Part lecture, part testimonial, all scathing indictment, this book will be lauded by homeschoolers and most likely condemned by teachers and administrators, dismissing his vision as untenable.



Gatto trickles a bit of his extensive research for his other book, "The Underground History of American Education" in outlining the historical (German) basis for a system that is designed to create conforming non-thinkers. He highlights a number of examples of extremely successful dropouts and people who were not schooled in the traditional way. And he draws on his direct experience within the system, contrasting with all those successes he cites to blister the institution that manages rather than teaches. Harsh? Perhaps. But think of how much time was spent in your "schooling" marching to the rules. As he overstates in one section of his book, primary school is mostly "don'ts" and little encouragement to think outside that proverbial box. And it is getting worse. I have questioned for many years the value of standardized testing and Gatto brings up the same questions. The measuring sticks fail to truly measure anything except how well someone can do on those tests.



As noted in other reviews, this is a must read for any homeschooler. And it should be required reading for every superintendent, teacher and student. Let the revolution begin. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
If half of what Gatto says about compulsory education we have a serious problem. Thought-provoking to say the least. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
Modern schooling is a tool for stifling thinking and controlling the masses. Endless examples of people without much formal education who have made it big, nothing about the failures. Reasoned critiques of the school system are valuable. This book is not. ( )
  ohernaes | Jan 17, 2014 |
I just finished reading Weapons of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto, and now I wish I had someone to discuss it with. I think it would make a great read for a book discussion group, or a seminar class of some kind. It has so much thought provoking material, all gathered to support Gatto's belief that our school systems are the real reason that people today are not as well educated as they could be, and as they were more than 100 years ago. I think his arguments are compelling and make a heck of a lot of sense, and I am one of those people who did well in school, have a knack for taking tests, but who has not achieved a level of success that matches how well I did in school.... Gatto has really struck a nerve with me.... He also makes me believe that it would be better for my grandchildren to be home schooled rather than sent to school. They are bright - I don't want that ruined by the expectations of an education system that wants them to sit down, shut up, and learn to be cogs in a machine designed to make someone else rich, or to maintain the wealth of the 1%. Have any of you read this book? ( )
1 stem RoseEllen | Mar 5, 2012 |
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The transformation of schooling from a twelve-year jail sentence to freedom to learn. John Taylor Gatto's Weapons of Mass Instruction , now available in paperback, focuses on mechanisms of traditional education which cripple imagination, discourage critical thinking, and create a false view of learning as a byproduct of rote-memorization drills. Gatto's earlier book, Dumbing Us Down , introduced the now-famous expression of the title into the common vernacular. Weapons of Mass Instruction adds another chilling metaphor to the brief against conventional schooling. Gatto demonstrates that the harm school inflicts is rational and deliberate. The real function of pedagogy, he argues, is to render the common population manageable. To that end, young people must be conditioned to rely upon experts, to remain divided from natural alliances and to accept disconnections from their own lived experiences. They must at all costs be discouraged from developing self-reliance and independence. Escaping this trap requires a strategy Gatto calls "open source learning" which imposes no artificial divisions between learning and life. Through this alternative approach our children can avoid being indoctrinated-only then can they achieve self-knowledge, good judgment, and courage.

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