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Weapons of Mass Instruction

A Schoolteacher's Journey through the Dark Worl of Compulsory Schooling
Paperback Book
Publisher: 
New Society
 | 
April, 2010
ISBN:
9780865716698
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Banyen's Description: 

John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction 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.

Wake up to what our schools really are… drill centers for the habits and attitudes that corporate society demands. Mandatory education serves children only incidentally; its real purpose is to turn them into servants.

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.

School trains children to be employees and consumers; teach your own to be leaders and adventurers. School trains children to obey reflexively; teach your own to think critically and independently.

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.

After a long life, and thirty years in the public school trenches, I’ve concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress genius because we haven’t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.

Filled with examples of people who have escaped the trap of compulsory schooling, Weapons of Mass Instruction shows how the realization of personal potential requires a different way of growing up and growing competent.

Publisher’s Description: 

The transformation of schooling from a twelve-year jail sentence to freedom to learn.

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