Parents & Teachers:
Book Review,"Doing School"
Full Title: Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students
Written by: Denise Clark Pope
Review By: Nancy Brown, Ph. D
What do we want our adolescents to get out of high school? Do we want them to use their newly developed critical thinking skills to become decision-makers, leaders, citizens, and activists? Do we want to prepare them to live away from home, chose a career, develop intimate relationships, and continue to pursue the hobbies and community service activities they started as children?
If you say, yes, of course, what parent would not want those things, then you may want to take your children out of school. You might be surprised to discover that while reading this book you meet children that sound just like your kids, but who are stressed, unhappy, and even cheating in school to live up to their parents' expectations and make their parents "proud" of them.
Dr. Clark Pope suggests we might not be getting what we really want for our kids and her book shows us how our "innocent" and "well-intentioned" expectations are contributing to our kids learning "all the wrong lessons" about what success means in our culture. We may be training our children to be successful and our schools might be contributing to that success, but at a cost many parents might find too steep – the health and well-being of the children.
Dr. Pope uses the real lives of successful youth to point out just how hard we are pushing our children and the price these students are paying for their success. Unfortunately, she is short on answers and strategies to help conscious parents wanting to raise successful children in an unhealthy culture. Parents may be left with a sinking feeling that something must be done, but what?
This book raises the concerns parents struggle with so often – which activities and how many will help our children find things they are passionate about, help get them into the college of their choice, and make their lives more fulfilling? What is quality time with our teenaged children and how often should we spend time with them in an unstructured activity so we can really talk and find out what is going on with them? When was the last time we had an unstructured moment with each of our children? Reading this book will make you want to spend some time talking – and clarifying goals – for both of you.
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Reviewed by: Adolescent Interest Group
Last reviewed: August 2013