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Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher's Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling (Inglese) Copertina flessibile – 8 apr 2010

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John Gatto was a teacher in New York City's public schools for over 30 years and is a recipient of the New York State Teacher of the Year award. A much-sought after speaker on education throughout the United States, his other books include A Different Kind of Teacher (Berkeley Hills Books, 2001) and The Underground History of American Education (Oxford Village Press, 2000).

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12 di 12 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
4.0 su 5 stelle An Energizing Broadside Against Compulsory Schooling 7 novembre 2011
Di R. Schultz - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina flessibile Acquisto verificato
This is an angry indictment of compulsory schooling and standardized curricula. Gatto's theme is that the real goal of schooling is to produce a compliant population of consumers and assembly line producers. Toward this end, schools train students to fragment themselves in response to ringing bells, to positive and negative reinforcements, and to all sorts of other personally disruptive conditioning techniques. As schools monopolize an increasingly large percentage of people's lives, the young become alienated from their families, their neighborhoods, their traditions, and, worst of all, from their better selves. They are severed from the true creative potential they might have realized if they'd been allowed to learn in the wider world, in their own time and place.

Gatto often makes brilliant salvoes against the evils of school. However his style is too scattergun to be as convincing as it could be. One flaw is that he leaves too many dangling participles of assertions. His arguments often need to be longer, more developed. For example, he states that we adopted our school model largely from the Prussians, with their interest in impressing people into militaristic conformity and the interchangeability required for industrial efficiency. It would have been interesting if Gatto had traced this influence more thoroughly, showing in some detail how this facet of Germanic culture influenced Horace Mann and other founders of the American compulsory public school movement.

Then Gatto too often ruins a good argument with a concluding, non sequitur-sounding rant. Again to cite an example, he makes the interesting suggestion that schools ought to be subject to being sued for promoting obesity and all its attendant health problems (presumably similar to the way tobacco companies were subject to lawsuits for promoting cancer). Gatto points out that while, on the one hand, school officials are now railing against the obesity epidemic and making a show of taking measures to combat it - on the other hand, they are the very ones promoting it with their insistence on prolonged sedentary attendance in classrooms. "No getting up and walking around the room. No squirming. Sit still!"

It's a good point. But then Gatto undermines his argument by flinging in some confusing indictment of Oliver Wendell Holmes who supported an "independent judiciary." What?

Gatto's choice of homeschooled or minimally-schooled people to serve as exemplars is also sometimes rather unfortunate. He repeatedly expresses approval of the independent styles of business moguls such as Richard Branson and Craig Venter. This muddies the waters of his argument because in other passages, he deplores how big business covertly encourages schools to pacify the population into seeking more and more purchased amusements. Well, to be fair, Gatto does make a distinction between old-style libertarian entrepreneurs and modern corporate cogs. But this distinction might get lost in a casual reading.

Much of Gatto's hit-and-run style can be attributed to his sheer fury at the harm being wrought by schools. Gatto himself acknowledges his rage when he breaks off the main text of his book early, stating that he's so angry at the waste of life that schools cause - he can't write any more. That anger results in this book's being more a protracted rant than a well-organized, closely reasoned awakening to the harmful effects of enforced attendance in schools.

So I wouldn't give this book to someone you are first trying to win over to considering the advantages of homeschooling, or, as it's more properly called, "life learning." Instead, I would give the gift of any of John Holt's books, or of the more generally philosophical "Deschooling Society" by Ivan Illich. Then, after your party has been introduced to and at least partially convinced of the baleful influence of formal education (something which, I'm sorry to say, might not happen too often) - you could suggest reading this Gatto broadside.

Although it often reads like a loose series of pot shots against school officials and the institution of school - it can be valuable for its energizing effect. It can serve as a kick-in-the-pants action promoter to someone already inclined to see school as a deadly monopolizing force in the lives of young people.
81 di 83 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle Vitally important considerations for educated citizens 18 giugno 2009
Di Donald N. Anderson - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina rigida Acquisto verificato
John Taylor Gatto has written another thought provoking book about the critical problem of allowing children to become educated. This one approaches the defects of current schooling from a number of directions that should leave no doubt about his reasons for objecting to compulsory schooling.

I was a public school teacher for only a couple of years in the early 60's teaching science and math in a small rural high school. I did not experience the vicious corruption of purpose in the way that John Taylor Gatto did in New York. Never the less, I formed the firm opinion that schools supported by government were a serious mistake in a free society and were dangerous to that society's long-term health. It is small wonder that many of our citizens value freedom so lightly that they appear willing to give it up for an illusion of security. After all, most have been bored and conditioned by 13 years of government schooling to accept authority even without reasons.

We need a full range of competing schools that offer the variety we find in fields such as food growing and delivery. We might also find that such schools carefully look for ways to deliver desired information more rapidly at lower cost. School costs have gone up at the same time quality has gone down. This is the picture of a failing institution, only government life support enables it to continue to miss-educate.

Gatto has done us all a huge service by providing a history of educational thought in America and identified its roots and personalities. You would be correct if you thought my education school classes failed to mention this part of history. After reading his earlier books, I went back and read more thoroughly the musings of John Dewey and others. It was a revelation and something I felt was not compatible with the American ideals of freedom.

I had always wondered why the classes in the education school were the worst classes in the entire college. After all, they should have learned something to become a professor of education. As teachers we always joked about how irrelevant those classes were to the actual work of a teacher. After reading Gatto, I suspect that those professors were selected because they were incapable of inspiring instruction and would fit well in the "dumbing down" process.

Even in my own public school education in the mid 40's, I was taught reading without phonics. They failed to suppress my interest in reading, but did delay my competence in spelling. The "dumbing down" process was evident at that time although it was just getting well started. I shudder to think of the many of our fellow citizens who have been unable to break free and perform their own critical evaluations. And they vote!

Private schools often mistakenly take leads from the public schools since the latter define the test content that all use to evaluate their standing. Mr. Gatto correctly identifies standardized testing as the first tool that needs to be destroyed to permit children to pursue an education rather than be schooled as obedient robots.

I can't completely agree with Gatto's recommendation that folks omit most schooling in favor of education. I personally converted from an avid history major to a chemistry major after I found as a college freshman that history instructors added only trivia to the faster knowledge acquisition skills I had already acquired through reading. However in chemistry, my skills were inferior and I definitely benefited from an instructor's guidance. This was not true of all classes, but there was enough of the challenging to keep me interested for many years.

I believe Mr. Gatto is entirely correct when he recommends homeschooling. The homeschooled students I have met were much better prepared and articulate than most of their contemporaries. They also fit well in the company of educated adults rather than participate in the resentments and conformity of perpetual childhood.

Every parent and taxpayer needs to read this book and develop his own position on schooling and education after incorporating the information that Gatto so vividly describes!
5 di 5 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle Why educate? 17 gennaio 2012
Di DocMyron - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina flessibile Acquisto verificato
John Gatto's years of experience in the classroom and the American system of education bring him to some conclusions which will shock, anger, and may even raise the voices of staunch opposition, Weapons of Mass Instruction will challenge your core beliefes about our current system of public education. As a college educator for many years I saw first-hand what Gatto describes as the inability to think critically in far too many students. And worse I heard high school teachers tell stories of students who could not read, perform simple computations, nor write coherent sentences, yet they were told to move the students along, while making sure they could pass the state-mandated tests.

While Gatto many be correct in his assessment I wish he had given more thoughts about ways to better educate children and youth. His examples are few, and though they may well describe some pockets of excellency, there is need to revamp the system, and since far too many people brought up in the system do not think critically they may not know how to make the changes advocated.

This books is a must read for educators. Even if you radically disagree with Gatto's findings, the book will cause you to think and evaluate why we educate. It has certainly cause me to ask more questions about school verses education.
5 di 5 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle Very Interesting Read 30 marzo 2013
Di Montgomereez - Pubblicato su
Formato: Formato Kindle Acquisto verificato
This book echos my feelings about mass instruction. As a public school graduate, I feel like I did okay, but that much of what they were teaching didn't have relevance to LIFE. I often felt trapped in school, doing things that, even then, I didn't think were going to help me. My children are now being home schooled. Not only will they learn the basics, but those basics will empower them to study things that INTEREST them, and they can find something to do in life that not only provides them with income, but perhaps happiness. Education should be more than reciting textbook things (that are often inaccurate/outdated). Education should be LEARNING, and preparing for the future.
4 di 4 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle This book began to turn my world upside down with ... 2 maggio 2015
Di Fluffo - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina flessibile Acquisto verificato
This book began to turn my world upside down with regard to my understanding of the history of public education in the US. I came away from it wondering, "How does he KNOW all of this?" This led me to read Gatto's "Magnum Opus", "The Underground History of American Education", which, while a more difficult read, went a long way to explaining how he came to his conclusions.