“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.