The Underground History of American Education

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The Underground History of American Education
The Underground History of American Education.jpg
First edition
AuthorJohn Taylor Gatto
SubjectEducation, History, Evaluation of
PublisherThe Oxford Village Press
Publication date
Media typePaperback and Hardcover
Pages412 (Paperback)
ISBN0-945700-04-0 (Paperback), ISBN 0-945700-05-9 (Hardcover)
811/.54 20
LC ClassPS3557.R1987 O5 1993

The Underground History of American Education: A Schoolteacher’s Intimate Investigation Into the Problem of Modern Schooling (ISBN 0-945700-05-9, pbk. ISBN 0-945700-04-0) is a critique of the United States education system by John Taylor Gatto.

A former teacher, Gatto left the classroom the same year he was named New York State Teacher of the Year. He announced his decision in a letter titled "I Quit, I Think".

Using anecdotes gathered from thirty years of teaching, alongside documentation, Gatto presents his view of modern compulsion schooling as opposed to genuine education, describing a "conflict between systems which offer physical safety and certainty at the cost of suppressing free will, and those which offer liberty at the price of constant risk".

Gatto argues that educational strategies promoted by government and industry leaders for over a century included the creation of a system that keeps real power in the hands of very few people.

From the book's Introduction:

"... Underground History isn’t a history proper, but a collection of materials toward a history, embedded in a personal essay analyzing why mass compulsion schooling is unreformable. The history I have unearthed is important to our understanding; it’s a good start, I believe, but much remains undone."
"... what I’m trying to describe [is] that what has happened to our schools was inherent in the original design for a planned economy and a planned society laid down so proudly at the end of the nineteenth century."

Russ Kick offers this in summary:

"In other words, the captains of industry and government explicitly wanted an educational system that would maintain social order by teaching us just enough to get by but not enough so that we could think for ourselves, question the sociopolitical order, or communicate articulately."[citation needed]

The book was read from 2006-2007 for the Unwelcome Guests radio show.[1][2]

The second edition of the book is expected to be released in November, 2015, with a foreword by Ron Paul.[3]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "The Underground History of American Education - UnwelcomeGuests".
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-02. Retrieved 2012-04-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Rodriguez, David. twitter Missing or empty |title= (help)[permanent dead link]