"I am writing this book because I am horrified by what schools are doing to children."
So begins this controversial and enlightened book by Roger Schank, a world-renowned expert on learning who believes that every day of the school year our children are being failed by an academic system that does nothing to stir a lifelong passion for learning. In this lively, sometimes alarming book, Schank shatters the myths about how children learn and offers candid advice for parents who want to raise kids with gumption, ambition, creativity, inquisitiveness, and analytic and verbal proficiency--the six traits of practical intelligence that kids need, not simply to get good grades and citizenship awards, but to succeed in life.
Known for his provocative and trendsetting views on education, Schank, who is also a parent, bases his approach on decades of cutting-edge research. Fueled with day-to-day examples from the lives of his own children, Schank explains that being smart does not necessarily mean getting straight A's. It means speaking convincingly and eloquently; it means being able to think on your feet; it means creating original ideas that push the boundaries; it means being able to size up situations and come to logical conclusions; it means being curious, being able to set meaningful goals, being willing to risk failure; and it means feeling free and confident enough to color outside the lines. Since schools are not nurturing these skills--in fact, they work against most of them--proactive parents who care about the intellectual development of their kids and want to guide them toward a bright future have to take action.
Amid all the talk about getting back to basics and the need for testing and accountability, Schank's irreverent voice is refreshing and inspiring. See the world through the eyes of your child, he says. Stand up for your daughter and don't always assume the teacher is right. Don't badger your son into spending long hours struggling over his math homework if he hates math. Put things into perspective. You want a kid who does well in life, finds his true passions, is willing to innovate and take risks. Scoring high on the SATs doesn't guarantee a bright future if there is no love of learning. As this wonderful book reveals, these goals may not be the measure by which schools judge success, but for a parent they are--or should be--the most meaningful report card of all.
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If you're frustrated with your child's public school education and aren't sure what to do about it, start by reading this book. In Coloring Outside the Lines, author Roger Schank asserts that raising smarter kids isn't about forcing information on kids when they aren't ready or interested. Instead, he helps parents identify the individual interests of their children and explains how to continually nurture a genuine love of learning, resulting in children who are determined, creative, and ambitious. Maintaining that school is generally not the best place for active learning, Schank says parents can counteract any potential harm by emphasizing positive experiences and ultimately come out ahead. His suggestion regarding grades seems quite sensible--every term there should be one class your child loves enough to happily work for an A, and average grades are acceptable for the rest of the subjects.
That's just one of many unconventional ideas presented here, as much of what Schank says goes against the norm. The section discussing creativity is especially unique. All too often, educators assume that creativity is the same thing as artistic ability, even though some of the most creative figures in history excelled in the areas of math and science. His suggestions about raising creative children address this issue and show parents great ways to foster creativity as an overall personality trait. With each chapter combining theory and practice, this book is a great combination of inspiration and how-to that will help your children get the best possible education by ultimately teaching themselves. --Jill LightnerAbout the Author:
Roger Schank is the founder and director of Northwestern University's prestigious Institute for the Learning Sciences. Before joining the faculty of Northwestern, Schank was th director of the Yale University Artificial Intelligence Project. A prolific scholar in his field, he is also, as chairman and chief technology officer for Cognitive Arts Corporation, a respected consultant to many Fortune 500 companies and the U.S. government.
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