We want to direct you to the right website. Please tell us where you live.
(This is a one-time message unless you reset your location.)
This eBook is available in PDF and EPUB formats.
Choose the preferred format for your device.
Dumbing Us Down - 25th Anniversary Edition (PDF)
The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling - 25th Anniversary Edition
After over 100 years of mandatory schooling in the U.S., literacy rates have dropped, families are fragmented, learning "disabilities" are skyrocketing, and children and youth are increasingly disaffected. Thirty years of teaching in the public school system led John Taylor Gatto to the sad conclusion that compulsory governmental schooling is to blame, accomplishing little but to teach young people to follow orders like cogs in an industrial machine.
He became a fierce advocate of families and young people taking back education and learning, arguing that "genius is as common as dirt," but that conventional schooling is driving out the natural curiosity and problem-solving skills we're born with, replacing it with rule-following, fragmented time, and disillusionment.
Gatto's radical treatise on public education, a New Society Publishers bestseller for 25 years, continues to bang the drum for an unshackling of children and learning from formal schooling. Now, in an ever-more-rapidly changing world with an explosion of alternative routes to learning, it's poised to continue to shake the world of institutional education for many more years.
Featuring a new foreword from Zachary Slayback, an Ivy League dropout and cofounder of tech start-up career foundry Praxis, this 25th anniversary edition will inspire new generations of parents and students to take control of learning and kickstart an empowered society of self-directed lifetime-learners.
John Gatto was a schoolteacher for 30 years. He resigned in the Op-Ed pages of The New York Times upon receiving the New York State Teacher of the Year award. He has been a fierce advocate for self-directed "guerrilla" education for decades, and is also the author of Weapons of Mass Instruction and The Underground History of American Education.
"A remarkable achievement. I can't remember ever reading such a profound analysis of modern education."
Howard Zinn, on The Underground History of American Education
"Education's most original thinker."
Daniel H. Pink, author of Free Agent Nation
"I've loved John Gatto's work ever since I first encountered his astounding essays."
Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom
"I count John Gatto among my heroes."
"Gatto is a singular antidote to stale convention."
David Guterson, author of Snow Falling On Cedars
Laissez Faire Books
"I agree with damn near every semi-colon and comma that Mr. Gatto has written."
Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence
"Gatto's voice is strong and unique, a Socrates of the educational world."
Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul
"Any student would be lucky to have a teacher like Gatto."
Editorial in Commonweal
"I'm still baffled by how someone so forthright would have been named Teacher of the Year."
Jeanne Allen, Editor, Education Update, Washington DC
"One of the world's most controversial education reformists."
The Western Australian
"...inspirational and chillingly on the money."
Bruce Bebb, The Hollywood Reporter, Hollywood CA
"You've got guts."
D'Arcy Rickard, British Columbia School Trustees Association, Canada
"Easily the most brilliant and arresting salvo on education that I've seen."
Graham Betts, Madison WI
"I read what you had to say with the greatest of delight and shared it with friends, one of whom said it brought tears to her eyes. We both thank you for writing."
Edward M. Jones, Editor, A Voice for Children, Santa Fe NM
"Professor Kenneth E. Boulding saw your writing and got it to me. I so fully agreed with everything you said that you have re-excited me about the similar mission I am on."
Ed Lyell, Colorado State Board of Education, Denver CO
"A very important and passionate book - a reawakening of the penetrating critique of schooling made in the 1960s by John Holt, Jonathan Kozol, and James Herndon...it deserves top be in every bookstore in the country. Yours is a voice of humanity, community and love. Bravo."
Ron Miller, Editor, Holistic Education Review
"My daughter, a smart, dedicated 14-year-old who just dropped out of high school and is successfully pursuing independent studies reports that your findings about the nature of institutional schooling are precisely right. Drove her nuts."
Ken Richards, Richmond IN
"Brilliant. I've never seen so many true statements about education, children and families in one place.... Your insights and integrity are wonderful."
Norah Dooley, Cambridge MA
"Seldom have I read such a penetrating and passionate diagnosis of our current educational and cultural crisis. And I have read all the current weighty expostulations."
Robert Inchausti, California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo CA
"I can visualize the Department of Education putting out a contract on your life. Please continue to speak out in the direction you are going."
W. Evans, Woodbury/St.George UT
"Your articles are wonderful and so desperately needed. I've copied them for a dozen families and everyone was enthusiastic. One mother said, 'We should elect this man President."
Elaine Majors, Chapel Hill NC
"Thank you for challenging public education - in your Wall Street Journal editorial, your evening program at Carnegie Hall, your book, and all the rest."
Sandra Booth, Spring Valley NY
"It is as refreshing to read and hear your words as it is to study Zen.... Good show."
John Warfield, Huntingdon VA
The Eco-Friendly Teen's Guide to Saving the Planet
Reflections on 30 Years of Head, Heart, and Hands at Schumacher College
Creating a Classroom Where Every Child Thrives
The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
Crafting a Joyful Life of Beauty and Abundance