Weapons of Mass Instruction

Weapons of Mass Instruction

A Schoolteacher's Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling

Book - 2010
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John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction, now available in paperback, focuses on mechanisms of traditional education that 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 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 that can they achieve self-knowledge, judgment, and courage. John Taylor Gatto is an internationally renowned speaker who lectures widely on school reform. He taught for thirty years in public schools before resigning on the op-ed pages of The Wall Street Journal during the year he was named New York’s official “Teacher of the Year.” On April 3, 2008, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard credited Gatto with adding the expression “dumbing us down” to the school debate worldwide.
Publisher: Philadelphia, Pa. : New Society ; Lancaster : Gazelle [distributor], 2010.
ISBN: 9780865716698
Call Number: 379.23 GATTO
Characteristics: xxiii, 214 pages ; 23 cm
Subjects: Education, Compulsory.
Education -- Philosophy.


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Nov 27, 2016

WOW! this was eye opening. It should be required reading for all parents putting their kids into public schools. Definitively shines a bright light on the education "business" in the USA.

Oct 21, 2016

“The Philosophy of Anti-Education – How Conservative Anti-Intellectualism Suppresses Free Thought and Critical Thinking to Maintain the Status Quo”
by Johnny Reb,

Jun 03, 2012

check out the videos to see John Gatto in an interview. June 14, picked it up today at the library....already into it. Gatto really gets me thinking! Did up our wills at the lawyers yesterday. She is even disillusioned about the economy. Hopefully we'll have something left to give to our kids.....and if we don't, I hope we get to spend it, and it all doesn't go up into the ethereal somewhere! Mattress stuffing is looking pretty good right now!
June 18, only a couple of chapters left. I really think this should be required reading for all teachers, and parents......but that'll never happen! Go John go! Maybe, I'll send a copy to our Minister of Education?.......do you think he'll/she'll read it? Just a thought! (and maybe an action!) Finished it up June 20, (summer is here!) I have ordered my own copy, and an extra one to pass along. Gatto is passionate, and has been for a long time. I remember when my kids were in school, how the teacher's hated teaching for those standardized tests. It was always a thorn in their sides. I have to agree with Mr. Gatto, the tests are only for the good of the managers, they do nothing for the students taking them.....June 25, I highly recommend reading Diane Ravitch's "The Death and Life of the Great American School System" after this book. It has opened my eyes to how the politics of schooling meddles and experiments with the lives of parents, children and teachers, principals!

Feb 12, 2011

Gatto's book may seem radical, but that does not change the fact that he argues a fair point. An education cannot be delivered on a plate to empty vassals (i.e. students). Standardized testing is just one example of methods that, intentionally or not, supress creativity and label children as 'smart' and 'dumb'. Children deserve a chance to learn and aim for their own dreams. In North America, there are accessible alternatives that are gaining some momentum.

benjaminc, I suggest you read Blake's _College Without High School_ for a different (more concillatory) presentation of unschooling.

Feb 08, 2011

Without a compulsory public school system, we would have nothing in common in this country. It seems that fighting standardized testing is the issue, not abolishing compulsory schooling. Not to mention we would mostly be ignorant : I don't know too many kids who would choose to go to school.


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