Dumbing Us Down--discussion

Robin Martin (roses9@idt.net)
Mon, 30 Mar 1998 18:16:34 -0700


After much work at the computer in the past month, I just a spent a
delightful few days enjoying the spring weather, raking old leaves,
watching the rain fall, and reading books.
Ahhh--living & learning at one's own pace--it's such a wonderful thing! :)

With almost as much zest as I had when reading Free at Last, I just soared
through John Taylor Gatto's Dumbing Us Down. Now, I have a few things that
I'm pondering...which I would enjoy hearing feedback on from any of
you--assuming most/many of you have already read this book.

(1) Is the impact of television on kids today really as awful as he depicts
it??? I rarely watch tv other than to pop in a movie now and then, & am
not much into reading mass-media either, so I have a hard time seeing kids
as the awful tv-junkies that Gatto makes them seem. To be sure, there are
some kids that get caught up in the medium, as some kids get caught up in
the computers, but was it just me, or did anyone else feel he didn't give
enough credence to the many the kids who still know how to romp around &
play & enjoy creating their own adventures, aside from mass media?

(2) Related to this, how do you feel that Sudbury learners compare in their
tv-viewing habits as compared to their public-school counterparts? How
about in their general community participation choices? Are there any
readings or research that I could do on this topic?

(3) Finally, I was impressed with all the historical information Gatto
included in his book, and enjoyed reading all about his views & research
into the Congregationalist communities & power of local
democracies--especially in the Massachussetts area. Still, with ALL the
history he drew off of, I was amazed, given the topic of this book, that he
didn't ever get around to mentioning school movements such as Sudbury
Valley or his own local Albany School (isn't that the one he's involved
in?). Why do you suppose he left out the next logical step from his book?
The only thing I could think--is that the book was a call for LOCAL
communities to make their OWN decisions about change & reform &
homeschooling, etc, and he didn't want to be too leading in his opinions on
how to do this.

Pondering in Iowa,


p.s. Since "Free at Last" is the book that has inspired me most over the
last couple years, and originally drew my attention to the exciting
possibilities of alternative education, especially the Sudbury-model for
democratic schools, I decided to do my first "book of month" review around
it. Although I know YOU all have already read it, if anyone is interested
in reading the review & giving me feedback, it's at:



Robin Martin
Coordinator & Creator of
The Center for Inspired Learning
Grand Opening: April 2, 1998!