Underground History of American Education: A School Teacher's Intimate Investigation into the Problem of Modern Schooling / Edition 1

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Gathering a collection of materials that highlight public education, Gatto (Dumbing Us Down) analyzes why mass-compulsion schooling is unreformable. Having taught in a Manhattan school district from 1961 to 1991, Gatto speaks from experience when offering this speculative history cum personal investigation. His discussion is passionate but far from scholarly (there are a very few footnotes for further study). At first it seems ironic that a former New York Teacher of the Year (1991) can be so adamant in his criticism of American education. However, the reader comes to recognize that despite his sometimes obscure thoughts he makes a compelling case. Arguing that public schools allow "psychic violence," teach numbness, and force the deterioration of parental responsibilities, Gatto advocates that children spend less time in school and more with their family and in meaningful pursuits in their community. He offers many helpful suggestions, but they are not immediately decipherable, as they are, to use the author's own words, "perversely sprinkled around like raisins in a pudding." This is a brutally honest argument that all administrators and legislators involved in schooling should read. Recommended for most libraries.--Leroy Hommerding, Fort Myers Beach P.L. Dist., FL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780945700043
  • Publisher: Pathway Book Service
  • Publication date: 11/1/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 700
  • Sales rank: 264,712
  • Product dimensions: 8.61 (w) x 11.04 (h) x 1.17 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2003

    A Must Read for Parents of American Schoolchildren

    As the son of professional educators, the homeschooling father of eight, and the director of a learning center I thought I had some fairly deep insights on education. John Taylor Gatto took me on a tour that I could never have imagined. This book has had a greater impact on the way I raise my children than any other (save one).

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    The Most Critical Book on American Education. John Taylor Gatto is dead on.

    Two time teacher of the year, John Taylor Gatto, is right on when describing American Education system. The Underground History of American Education is a combination of all his great books. The textbook style book is detailed when describing how both students and teachers are extremely bored in school, how the federal public education system is becoming a monopoly of education,and how the deliberate dumbing down of students is getting out of hand. We need more different types of schools and for the people to really take back the control of their schools. Gatto shows how the schooling system is relevant to all of us, whether it is the students who are going to school or the children of the parents, everyone needs to understand that we are all being trained and enslaved in our public education system to be set up for the climbing the corporate and governmental ladder. EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2007

    Getting to the truth and standing up for what is right

    John Taylor Gatto has changed our life. Homeschooling is a way of life for us now. Thank God we have wonderful men who could stand up and say to the world THESE ARE OUR CHILDREN! Bravo Mr. Gatto.... Bravo! Your position was meant to be as it was, now you are on the top of where your were to be. God bless

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2003

    POWERFUL! The Usual Gatto!

    This book is packed full. Gatto seems to have a solid grasp of his subject. I hoped for a bibliography, but Gatto remarks that if he gave a complete one, it would be grotesquely huge and impractical. He did, however, give plenty of referrences in the reading text and a recommended reading list at the end. I recommend reading his book DUMBING US DOWN first so that you know better where he is coming from - which is easy reading. Underground History is a great book and a great source for you to sink your teeth into. I read it and I feel smarter somehow because of it! The only problem I see with his book is that I'v gone back to college and get angry (inwardly) because I have to endure the factory education like so many of you have (I get nearly all A's and I am an engineering major at age 34). I am waiting for the hard-bound version so that I can keep a copy of it for a long time. As you read this book, keep a red pencil or a highlighter handy so that you can relocate all the great passages you will find. My copy is all marked up. Just when the book gets a little dry, I find another powerful underline worthy sentence or paragraph or whole page! I am looking forward to reading other books by Gatto.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2002

    Buy it, Borrow it, Steal it if you have to......

    I found this book to be intriguing and insightful. Having spent several years in the public school system, bored to tears and staring at the walls, I knew the system had failed me, but had convinced myself that it benefitted others. Gatto shatters that belief with this book. My review is based on a pre-publication copy, so the one offered here may not have the two minor problems I found in my version. First, his beginning is a bit wordy and can put you off a bit. He starts out just a little full of himself. Please keep reading, because that tone soon disappears when he gets into the meat of the work. The only other problem is that he doesn't provide a bibliography. For those who want to trace his data to the source, most of it is cited fairly well in the body of the work, but I would have preferred a bibliography, especially given his scathing indictment of compulsory schooling. Because the information presented is such a challenge to to the educational establishment, a bibliographical defense is important. This book needs to be taken seriously, and a bibliography would assist in getting his work the attention it so richly deserves. At the end of the book, he instead provides a reading list so that you can do your own exploration, rather than a formal bibliography, which you can use to more quickly verify his data. This is perhaps his way of encouraging people to educate themselves on this issue. He may have stopped teaching in the public school system, but this book is evidence that he's still a teacher at heart.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2001

    Simply the best history of education ever written

    If taken seriously, this book will bring about a new thinking concerning how we educate our children. The book is written in such a way that one is forced to see the origin of many antiquated ideas which infect our attitude towards education. Gatto's wealth of experience and first rate mind might in the begining intimate readers. But soon one learns that his book serves the purpose of deprogramming all sorts of assumptions about how we perceive children, assumptions which are damaging to children, teachers' and even parents' dignity. Every single idol of child psychology, politcal theory, and methods of teaching are turned upside-down and pealed away until the reader is left with the true vocation of being human which is to live and think in freedom. ANy one who after reading this book returns to the old ways of teaching, must be a moon-calf.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2001

    The only textbook needed in a college 'education' class

    As a former teacher and teacher-trainer, I was intrigued by the title. Little did I know it would affect my entire view of education and schooling...Not light reading, and not for the weak, but an incredibly insightful and (unfortunately) accurate analysis of the American education system.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2001

    Sometimes the Truth Hurts

    This book is an absolutely compelling read detailing the forces that have forged American compulsory schooling. While not indulging in conspiracy theory or teacher-bashing, Gatto makes it clear that our current system of schooling has been imposed with a specific agenda in mind--that of stripping children from their families, communities, and spiritual beliefs to create a pliable workforce and consumer base. Homeschoolers will find this book particularly affirming of their choice to learn at home.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2012

    Blue Pill or Red Pill? - This Book is for Those Who Wish to Blue Pill or Red Pill? - This Book is for Those Who Wish to Understand the Truth

    If you have a nagging sense that things aren't as they seem, that Big Brother is in deed watching, this is a book that will help you understand those feelings and clarify the issues. As a parent and a teacher I constantly struggle with the status of education in the U.S. Why is it in a constant need of "saving." Why are so many schools failing? Why do schools resemble prisons? It is one of the very few things in our society in which we do not get a choice. We must go to the school that we are told to and that school is a one-size fits all government jobs-project that may or may not serve your child's and your best interests. We are told where to go, when to go, what to learn, what is important. The trend is ever inching toward the math and sciences - a very left-brained concrete thought process. The liberal arts, particularly history and civics, have been relegated to mere after thoughts. Why? A society of active, engaged and educated citizens make terrible consumers. Thoughful independent people are not good followers. The goal is a strong workforce filled with insecure, immature and rootless technocrats who will consume without remorse, restraint or reflection. Before anything can change in this world you must understand the foe with whom you are at battle. If you are one who takes issue with the control and influence all things BIG - Pharma, Medicine, Education, Unions, Government, Prisons, Corporations, etc- have on your life, this book is a great beginning. It will help you to understand the mindset of those who seek power and the methods used in society, specifically through Education, to produce people who serve their ends (mindless consumption & cooperation) rather than independent, thoughtful and reflective citizens. This book will open your eyes, like Neo in the Matrix, once you go this way you may not return, so it is not recommended for those who wish to remain asleep.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Love Gatto!

    Not quite done with this book yet, but I'd have to say it's a must for anyone that questions our way of education here in the US. After reading Gatto's Dumbing Us Down and Weapons of Mass Instruction, I was inspired to take my daughter out of school and begin homeschooling her. Since then, I can't get enough information on why schools are the way they are and if there is anyway to change things. I find Gatto's Underground History of American Education helps to fill in any gaps realized in his first two books. I'm already looking forward to his next book - whatever and whenever it is.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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