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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2000
First, the strengths of the book. It provides an alternative view to the frantic parents who are trying to do everything for their kids and in fact, are overdoing it. I completely agree with his points about too many parents getting obsessive about the first few years with their children.
But here are three things that I find troubling. 1) The very research studies he tries to debunk in other's findings are the same ones he uses to support his own position. He says you can't use the basic neuroscience to justify the more practical end uses, then he uses basic neuroscience research to support his own position.2) He ignores a huge body of research from studies on attachment, emotional abuse, physical abuse, drug abuse and neglect that supports the critical value of early emotional involvement and the delicate caregiver-to-child process of attunement. This is the underpinnings of emotional intelligence--which may be more important than the standard cognition. 3) He ballyhoos the current trend in schools towards a more brain-based approach, saying that it'll be 25 years before we can apply neuroscience to classroom learning. That's dead wrong. Thousands of educators are already using strategies and programs based on recent research. He apparently doesn't know about them--maybe he does not visit cutting edge schools. As an example, the technology of FastForWord (a software that is treating phonological deficits) is just one of several hearing improvement programs. Other teachers are using research on emotions, stress, memory and the brain's structural constraints to enhance teaching--and scores are going up. Bruer is well-meaning, but not in touch with the cutting edge of learning.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2001
i suppose you should take this review with a grain of salt, for i have only made my way through the first chapter. unfortunately bruer is an amazingly awful writer. in taking nearly thirty pages to illustrate that which should have been said in five, and with the words "new brain science," "new brain science," "reiner," "reiner," "reiner, " ringing hollowly, like some dreadful mantra in my mind, i fell into a stupor, one that could only be cured by closing this damned book. that is not to say that i won't return for a second look. call me a glutten for punishment perhaps. Or rather, could it be that i sympathize with what i have understood his argument to be thus far? anxious potential soccer moms and dockers kakhi gents, do not worry, properly applied neuroscience will save this country from the awful pestilence of.... low SAT scores... inability to hold a steady job... juvenille delinquency... violence... if we hand our little tykes over to the experts (which i guess is what consititutes "community" in this day and age) between the ages of 0 to 3 (as if the next 15 weren't enough), then we can eradicate the evil at its source - hit the neurons and hit em hard, while they're still fresh and spunky.
in all seriousness though, what this book seems to be critiquing is a very unclever and misguided liberal humanist agenda which would prefer to rest content with an astonishingly unrealistic cure-it all program than acknowledge the complexities of social distress and rebellion. neuroscience provides the crutch of truth to prop up this facile agenda. and in so doing we can, with clear conscience, avoid the disparaging task of examining and questioning the priorities of the society we live in. Much easier to let the market run free as the sole source of meaning in this culture, and delude ourselves into believing that youth violence, boredom, and alienation are simply the product of an ill formed mind.
am i jumping to conclusions?
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