Academic journal article Childhood Education

Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher's Journey through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling

Academic journal article Childhood Education

Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher's Journey through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling

Article excerpt

WEAPONS OF MASS INSTRUCTION: A Schoolteacher's Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling. John Taylor Gatto. Gabriola Island, Canada: New Society Publishers, 2009. 192pp. Hardback, $24.95. After 30 years of teaching, New York State's official teacher of the year, John Taylor Gatto, quit on the grounds that he was tired of hurting the children. In this book, Gatto presents a few major themes dealing with the dangers of compulsory schooling. One such theme is how compulsory schooling relies upon controlling and indoctrinating children. Next, Gatto contends that schooling extends adolescence while destroying the family unit "by monopolizing the best times of childhood" (p. 84) and that the best thing that schools can do is to produce "clerks" and "specialists."

Concerning standards and testing, the writer argues that they "correlate with nothing very real," while the best of readers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, or leaders almost never had good grades. Gatto protests that "school is too vital a jobs project, contract giver, and protector of the social order," and thus is immune from genuine reform. He emphatically suggests abolishing the whole system from the "bottom up" and allowing instead a form of open-source learning, whereby children are free to learn whatever their desires and talents determine via homeschooling, apprenticeships, private schools--among other options. …

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