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Publisher's Summary

John Taylor Gatto's Weapons of Mass Instruction focuses on mechanisms of traditional education which cripple imagination, discourage critical thinking, and create a false view of learning as a byproduct of rote-memorization drills. Gatto's earlier book, Dumbing Us Down, introduced the now-famous expression of the title into the common vernacular. Weapons of Mass Instruction adds another chilling metaphor to the brief against conventional schooling.

Gatto demonstrates that the harm school inflicts is rational and deliberate. The real function of pedagogy, he argues, is to render the common population manageable. To that end, young people must be conditioned to rely upon experts, to remain divided from natural alliances and to accept disconnections from their own lived experiences. They must at all costs be discouraged from developing self-reliance and independence.

Escaping this trap requires a strategy Gatto calls "open source learning" which imposes no artificial divisions between learning and life. Through this alternative approach our children can avoid being indoctrinated-only then can they achieve self-knowledge, good judgment, and courage.

©2009 John Taylor Gatto (P)2012 Post Hypnotic Press Inc.

Critic Reviews

"John Taylor Gatto has been a hero of mine for years. He has the courage to challenge an education system that is obsolete and out of touch with reality. Years ago, he gave me the courage to speak out and write my books. I trust this book will give you the courage to speak out." (Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad)
"For over 20 years John Taylor Gatto has been working tirelessly to teach us the truth about our education system - that compulsory schooling does not work to foster a democratic way of life!" (Mary Leue, Founder of the Albany Free School)
"All of Gatto's words shine. Let's have Gatto as US Secretary of Education and then, this time, he can blow it all up!" (George Meegan, author of The Longest Walk and world record holder, longest unbroken march in human history)

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  • Nicole
  • 21-05-15

I will never see school the same

I loved this book. As a parent of 3 children, one a model student, one a jokester and one who really struggled academically, I know first-hand that one size fits all education is detrimental to the ones who it doesn't fit. I worked hard to protect my children's individuality and not allow it to be standardized. I couldn't wrap those words around it while it was going on but the mamabear inside me rose up and defended what needed defending and I did the best I could. I only wish I had read this book while they were still in school or even before they got there. READ IT!! RESEARCH WHAT HE CLAIMS...and make your own decisions on how you handle the "experts" who will try to mold your children. There are fantastic teachers who want only the best for your children and it will line up with what you desire as well but when you don't see eye to eye with your children's teachers or school, remember that YOU know your child best and you should advocate for what you think is best. I'm so grateful that new models of schooling are popping up and I hope to see an end to standardized testing in my lifetime. If you are considering homeschooling or unschooling, READ THIS BOOK!!!

15 people found this helpful

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  • Alan
  • 20-09-13

Makes you think

This book does a great job of presenting an alternative view of our education system. The author causes the listener really think about what they learned or did not learn in school.

If you have ever wondered why education does not improve considering all the money the government throws at it....this book is for you.

8 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 10-03-15

This book changed my life

What an amazing case against the school system. I live in China, where the testing regime is even worse in many ways. I agree with the author. Inasmuch as learning happens in schools, it does so in spite of the system, not because of it. Education has to be better than this, and I'll do everything in my power as a teacher and father to improve it.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Mike
  • 16-01-15

every parent needs to read

John Taylor Gatto is truly a hero of our time his experience and knowledge is remarkable. he helps to understand the faults of modern compulsory schooling as though purposeful, and helps through his own experience to understand how to combat this weapon against the masses.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Mike
  • 12-12-18

Everything is wrong. Everything is off. Think.

This book breaks down so many barriers and lies that society tells us is truth. The author provides detailed stories and references on every topic and point he makes and asks the questions nobody thought to ask or wants to ask. Are you afraid of the truth? Then don’t read this book. Are you afraid of change? Then don’t read this book. Are open to new ideas and time tested methods that have been suppressed over the years? This book will open your eyes. On many levels you will feel as if you always knew this information deep down... but you could not quite prove it or express it this way... Weapons of Mass Instruction fills in all of those gaps that you were missing in your argument with yourself about how you feel towards the school system today. Enjoy. It’s a game changer.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Carl Skouson Freestone
  • 18-03-16

great book

reading this book has given me much confidence in areas that I have questioned all throughout my growing up years as well as the growing up years of my children.

3 people found this helpful

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  • pamela
  • 25-02-16

Loved this Book!

Enriching historically. Extraordinary writing as though we as the readers are sharing a private day with a brilliant and loving scholar. Highly recommend. Narrated beautifully. Will listen to this again.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Peter
  • 27-09-15

An inspiration

This is a life changing read and should be compulsory for politicians and educational administrators everywhere. Even if just to show them that there is an alternative perspective!

3 people found this helpful

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  • zack
  • 21-06-15

Rich in historical context and experience

Good book for any one looking for a nice overview yet plenty intricate details to leave you wanting to learn even more.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Robert Hall
  • 24-03-15

Latest missing scroll of our era, no equivalent

Awesome! Life changing masterpiece, thanks SIR. This should be legal evidence against the government school system.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Ged Swanson
  • 15-03-16

everyone should be aware of this.

This book is something that everyone should take the time to read/listen to. Very pleased I did.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Secondary Teacher of art
  • 27-07-20

Educating the future to be childish

I found this book only further supported the research shared by others such as David Icke. I thought David Icke was a crazy man with crazy ideas. And then I read this book and also the work of Aldus Huxley and in the words of Steve Jobs, I can see how the events through history are connecting to bring about a world with people who are easily manipulated. I always wondered why the education system, does not teach about 'Money', it does not teach about 'Investments like a Pension' even though young people are made to remain in education until they are 18.

I was a teacher for 13 years and questioned a number of ways the system did not support the whole child's needs. Then I ask, where is the voice of the parent? - why are parents not included in the decisions about our children's futures and the amount of time they are made to stay in state education? - This book gives the reader the answers to the questions that they feel are not answered or even articulated in the education system.

I listened to the book on Audible and then also bought it because there is much in the book that calls for more opportunities to research and expand on knowledge and understanding.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 25-09-16

Eye opener! A great insight.

Critical analysis from an academic successful teacher. The disparity between the public assumption for good are persistent with the system of deliberate disillusion.

1 person found this helpful

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  • M. Khader
  • 27-08-16

debunks the great myth of compulsory schooling

I enjoyed it greatly it brings to light the false assumption that schooling is beneficial to our impressionable young kids.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Travis
  • 30-04-15

Incredible inspiring book...

Incredible inspiring book... I highly recommend for anyone who questions the competence and motives of our educational system...

1 person found this helpful

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  • Helena Mac
  • 06-12-20

Essential reading for parents

Another amazing insight to the continuous process of dumbing down generations of children, full of facts and backed up with numerous examples. This is a great book for any parent considering homeschool or worried about their child's performance in an ever increasingly tortuous environment in school. School doesn't have to define a child. There's so much more. School unlocks potential of a minority of children.

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  • João Nicolau Oliveira
  • 28-06-20

This is one is the best books I've seen ever.

This is one is the best books I've seen ever. I wish I had read it long ago. it's rebel and goes deep into the origins of Schooling. It has potential to change the society.

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  • The Vikid Truth
  • 02-06-20

just superb

get this and understand, assimilate and think for yourself. you won't regret it. as a parent I found it very interesting, however if you've ever been to school it is still relevant.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-11-19

Insightful and thought provoking.

Really interesting, however I would have liked a better explanation of what someone who has been through school and college could do to improve themselves. Its like Gato showed you hole in your education but not the steps needed to fill it. Still it was a thought provoking listen and definitely recommend.

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  • Soraki
  • 28-07-18

Another Brick in the Wall

Mr. Gatto shows clearly the difference between true education and school industry and disclose the establishment and its interests behind the money making billion of dollar biz and the related class system.
Meanwhile, the control is global and it needs much more for changes than the rejection of the standard tests by students. His own three school cases experience in chapter 11 telling us that neither the politics nor the media will support the truth and isolate or terminate anybody provoking or fighting this system.
Quid est Catulle?

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  • Sally Cornish
  • 17-02-18

Perfect timing

Not often do you stumble on a book when you're at the perfect crossroad of compulsory schooling for your little ones or something else.... But what else is there?
This book confirms exactly how I have been feeling about the school system but have never been able to articulate these feelings. What a grand journey JTG took me over the past few days! Thank you for this, couldn't reccomend enough for parents, teenagers, grandparents, caregivers, teachers or anyone intrigued to know what the view is from the inside.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Linh Vu
  • 20-02-21

Must read for all parents

I was always the top straight A student at school and got top honours at the best university in my country, and yet felt there is something seriously wrong with the system. Gatto explained it all in this book, which has steeled my resolve to homeschool our children so they can be truly educated and free.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-03-20

I've resigned school teaching thanks to Gatto.

Few people would disagree that the school system is flawed; very few people would believe that it's inheritantly designed to be this way. Compulsory schooling, first introduced about 200 years ago by elitists in Northern Prussia, works to undermine everything in a child that school educators claims it nurtures: literacy rates, creativity, and independent, critical thought. The system worked so effectively, that powerful elitists in other nations such as America felt the need to import and impose this systematic methodology onto the masses of their own nations, with great resistance, of course. Among many sinister purposes, the systematic dumbing down of children ensures minimum entrepreneurship to challenge the large corporations, while increasing boredom to maximise addiction to consumerism.

Gatto wrote in an open letter before his resignation as teacher that he no longer wanted to hurt kids. I've also arrived at the same moral dilemma. I resigned from school teaching 2 days ago, with nothing solidly planned for what comes next. This book is also having me rethink any plan to retrain at university, as universities are inherently flawed themselves with a similar methodology.