Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling"

Gatto,J. T 1992. Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory
Schooling. Gabriola Island, B.C.: New Society Publishers.

Summary: Gatto was a school teacher who became disillusioned with the traditional school system. There were six traits he saw emerging in a system that oftentimes silenced the voice of those who sought change. The traits are:

1. Confusion
2. Class Position
3. Indifference
4. Emotional Dependency
5. Intellectual Dependency
6. Provisional Self- Esteem

By forcing students into these dispositions schools are essentially silencing their voices, thus promulgating the current power structure. Gatto maintains a satirical voice throughout his writing. By keeping things light, he allows the reader to be open to the counterpoints he offers later on. In essence these are the exact opposites of the former six traits:

1. Clarity- Subjects should be connected and seamless to expose students to the outer workings of surrounding society
2. Equality- Power should be shared within the classroom
3. Activism/ empowerment- Students should be empowered to be change makers
4. Emotional Independence- Students develop their own voice in the classroom
5. Intellectual Freedom- Students are free to make decisions that run contrary to their classmates.
6. Self- Esteem- Students self- esteem should be based on their own experiences, not the opinion of the teacher

In sum, he blames an "un- democratic" system for raising apathetic students who are not prepared to make important decisions within their community.

Analysis: I fell in love with Gatto's writing. I love the narrative he uses to describe the current school system. I found myself laughing out loud at several points. Most of all, his writing is accessible. He allows even opponents to see his viewpoints through his amiable nature.

Quotes: "If you've ever tried to wrestle into line kids whose parents have convinced them to be loved in spite of anything, you know how impossible it is to make self- confident spirits conform."

"Surrender your will to a predestined chain of command."

1 comment:

Alan said...

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