I’d held an eerie suspicion about the educational system for a while. Then I read John Gatto’s Dumbing Us Down, and I will never look at schooling the same way again. Gatto was a legendary teacher in New York City from the 1960s to the 90s. In fact, he delivered the original essay when he received the Teacher of the Year Award in 1991. In that speech, Gatto explained the seven reasons why the educational system is destroying American society:
- It confuses the students.
- It teaches them to accept their class affiliation.
- It makes them indifferent.
- It makes them emotionally dependent.
- It makes them intellectually dependent.
- It teaches them a kind of self-confidence that requires constant confirmation by experts.
- It makes it clear to them that they cannot hide, because they are always supervised.
He spoke out years ago, but it might as well have been yesterday. The institution is still alive and kicking. In a short 100 pages, Gatto shattered any remaining illusions that I held about schooling. When I read it in November of my senior year in college, it was easy for me to say \”fuck this\” and stop doing work. But in the long run, I have grown grateful for this book because it affirms the importance of self-directed learning.