Dumbing Us Down

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Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
DumbingUsDown Gatto.jpg
First edition
AuthorJohn Taylor Gatto
Cover artistDiane McIntosh
SubjectEducation & Teaching, Current Affairs
PublisherNew Society Publishers
Publication date
Media typePaperback and hardcover.
Pages106 (paperback and hardcover)
TextDumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling at Internet Archive

Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (ISBN 086571231X) is a non-fiction book written by American teacher and political libertarian John Taylor Gatto. It has sold over 200,000 copies[1] and consists of a multitude of speeches given by the author. The book proposes that radical change is needed to the American educational system to turn around the negative socialization that children receive.

Main thesis[edit]

Gatto asserts the following regarding what school does to children in Dumbing Us Down:

  1. It confuses the students. It presents an incoherent ensemble of information that the child needs to memorize to stay in school. Apart from the tests and trials, this programming is similar to the television; it fills almost all the "free" time of children. One sees and hears something, only to forget it again.
  2. It teaches them to accept their class affiliation.
  3. It makes them indifferent.
  4. It makes them emotionally dependent.
  5. It makes them intellectually dependent.
  6. It teaches them a kind of self-confidence that requires constant confirmation by experts (provisional self-esteem).
  7. It makes it clear to them that they cannot hide, because they are always supervised.[2]

He also draws a contrast between communities and “networks,” with the former being healthy, and schools being examples of the latter. He says networks have become an unhealthy substitute for community in the United States.[3]

An article published online by the Foundation for Economic Education described John Taylor Gatto as having mentored "millions of people in writing their own scripts". In his book, Dumbing us Down, John Gatto urged parents to control the education of their children. He made a critical analysis of state education and described the system as comprehensive, informal, historical, and philosophical. John wrote several lectures which disclosed a significant conclusion which encouraged splitting institutional schools and removing certification from teaching. His belief was privatization of education along with a free market system was the most viable option.[4] Gatto's book aimed to inspire education advocates and the inception of Praxis tests. This testing measured academic competence and knowledge of specific subjects required for teaching. Praxis tests are taken by potential educators as part of certification required by state and professional licensing entities.[5]


In a review of the book, Samuel L. Blumenfeld wrote that, "no one in America today is better qualified to report on the true condition of our government education system than John Taylor Gatto."[6]

Layla Abdel Rahim includes the book on her reading list regarding education and pedagogy, noting that she "highly recommends it."[7]


  1. ^ "The Philosophy of Education". Belinda Moore. Archived from the original on 2007-08-15.
  2. ^ See John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down. The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, Iceland Gabriola: New Society Publishers, 2005, p. 2–11
  3. ^ John Taylor Gatto, "Why Schools Don't Educate", The Natural Child Project https://www.naturalchild.org/guest/john_gatto.html
  4. ^ "John Taylor Gatto Taught Millions to Write Their Own Scripts | C. Edward Kelso". 2017-03-02. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  5. ^ "Praxis". www.ets.org. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  6. ^ Blumenfeld, Samuel L. Review of Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling.
  7. ^ Abdel Rahim, Layla (Ph.D.). Review of Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling miltsov.org.

External links[edit]