Monday, April 30, 2007

Dumbing Us Down

This is a book that I've picked up a number of times at the bookstore but never purchased. Since our library no longer charges for inter-library loans I requested it and received it a few days ago. I seem to have gone on a non-fiction binge, reading lots of books on local history and the pioneers. I didn't expect this particular book to come in so soon since I was 8th on the list and there are only 2 copies in the area.

I finally finished the other books I had out and started on this one last night. I seldom read books on homeschooling and education anymore. The homeschooling books all tend to say the same things with many of the newer ones advocating things like public school at home programs which just aren't homeschooling. Dumbing Us Down isn't like that and I find myself agreeing with so much Gatto has to say, especially with regards to the toll the current education system has taken on the nation and specifically the local community.

The fragmentation caused by excessive networking creates diminished humanity, a sense our lives are out of control because they are.

I've seen this a lot. Instead of relationships we network with our co-workers, neighbors, civic groups, etc. It's almost like, as a society, we have lost the ability to interact with each other on any other level. We ask people how they are but we don't really want to know, it's just another greeting like "Hello". If you dare to actually answer the question honestly the person who asked it usually gets that "deer in the headlights" look. These networks can get a job done such as road maintenance or a neighborhood project but they seldom result in true friendships. Everyone is busy going off to work on the next project. In these books that I've been reading about the late 1800s and early 1900s there is a difference in the way things were organized. People weren't brought together so much by their interests but by their personal relationships. A group of ladies were friends and neighbors and found a common interest in a library so they worked towards getting that library started. Their common bond wasn't the library but the friendship. That focus on interpersonal relationships was what made these communities strong. We no longer have that.

If you haven't read this particular book I recommend it along with his other book The Underground History of American Education

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