Weapons of Mass Instruction

Weapons of Mass Instruction

A Schoolteacher's Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling

Book - 2009
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"Gatto draws on thirty years in the classroom and many years of research as a school reformer. He puts forth his thesis with a rhetorical style that is passionate, logical, and laden with examples and illustrations." ForeWord Magazine

"Weapons of Mass Instruction is probably his best yet. Gatto's storytelling skill shines as he relates tales of real people who fled the school system and succeeded in spite of the popular wisdom that insists on diplomas, degrees and credentials. If you are just beginning to suspect there may be a problem with schooling (as opposed to educating as Gatto would say), then you'll not likely find a better expose of the problem than Weapons of Mass Instruction." Cathy Duffy Reviews

"In this book, the noisy gadfly of U.S. education takes up the question of damage done in the name of schooling. Again he touches on many of the same questions and finds the same answers.  Gatto is a bold and compelling critic in a field defined by politic statements, and from the first pages of this book he takes even unwilling readers along with him. In Weapons of Mass Instruction, he speaks movingly to readers' deepest desires for an education that taps their talents and frees frustrated ambitions. It is a challenging and extraordinary book that is a must read for anyone navigating their way through the school system." - Ria Julien - Winnipeg Free Press

John Taylor Gatto's Weapons of Mass Instruction focuses on mechanisms of familiar schooling that cripple imagination, discourage critical thinking, and create a false view of learning as a by-product of rote-memorization drills. Gatto's earlier book, Dumbing Us Down , put that now-famous expression of the title into common use worldwide. Weapons of Mass Instruction promises to add another chilling metaphor to the brief against schooling.

Here is a demonstration that the harm school inflicts is quite rational and deliberate, following high-level political theories constructed by Plato, Calvin, Spinoza, Fichte, Darwin, Wundt, and others, which contend the term "education" is meaningless because humanity is strictly limited by necessities of biology, psychology, and theology. The real function of pedagogy is to render the common population manageable.

Realizing that goal demands that the young be conditioned to rely upon experts, remain divided from natural alliances, and accept disconnections from the experiences that create self-reliance and independence.

Escaping this trap requires a different way of growing up, one Gatto calls "open source learning." In chapters such as "A Letter to Kristina, my Granddaughter"; "Fat Stanley"; and "Walkabout:London," this different reality is illustrated.

John Taylor Gatto taught for thirty years in public schools before resigning from school-teaching in the op-ed pages of The Wall Street Journal during the year he was named New York State's official Teacher of the Year. Since then, he has traveled three million miles lecturing on school reform.

Publisher: Gabriola Island, B.C. : New Society Publishers, 2009.
ISBN: 9780865716315
Characteristics: 215 p. ;,23 cm.


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Nov 27, 2016

WOW! this was eye opening. It should be required reading for all parents putting their kids into public schools. Definitively shines a bright light on the education "business" in the USA.

Oct 21, 2016

“The Philosophy of Anti-Education – How Conservative Anti-Intellectualism Suppresses Free Thought and Critical Thinking to Maintain the Status Quo”
by Johnny Reb,

Jun 03, 2012

check out the videos to see John Gatto in an interview. June 14, picked it up today at the library....already into it. Gatto really gets me thinking! Did up our wills at the lawyers yesterday. She is even disillusioned about the economy. Hopefully we'll have something left to give to our kids.....and if we don't, I hope we get to spend it, and it all doesn't go up into the ethereal somewhere! Mattress stuffing is looking pretty good right now!
June 18, only a couple of chapters left. I really think this should be required reading for all teachers, and parents......but that'll never happen! Go John go! Maybe, I'll send a copy to our Minister of Education?.......do you think he'll/she'll read it? Just a thought! (and maybe an action!) Finished it up June 20, (summer is here!) I have ordered my own copy, and an extra one to pass along. Gatto is passionate, and has been for a long time. I remember when my kids were in school, how the teacher's hated teaching for those standardized tests. It was always a thorn in their sides. I have to agree with Mr. Gatto, the tests are only for the good of the managers, they do nothing for the students taking them.....June 25, I highly recommend reading Diane Ravitch's "The Death and Life of the Great American School System" after this book. It has opened my eyes to how the politics of schooling meddles and experiments with the lives of parents, children and teachers, principals!

Feb 12, 2011

Gatto's book may seem radical, but that does not change the fact that he argues a fair point. An education cannot be delivered on a plate to empty vassals (i.e. students). Standardized testing is just one example of methods that, intentionally or not, supress creativity and label children as 'smart' and 'dumb'. Children deserve a chance to learn and aim for their own dreams. In North America, there are accessible alternatives that are gaining some momentum.

benjaminc, I suggest you read Blake's _College Without High School_ for a different (more concillatory) presentation of unschooling.

Feb 08, 2011

Without a compulsory public school system, we would have nothing in common in this country. It seems that fighting standardized testing is the issue, not abolishing compulsory schooling. Not to mention we would mostly be ignorant : I don't know too many kids who would choose to go to school.

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