- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 2nd ed. edition (Sept. 15 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312148232
- ISBN-13: 978-0312148232
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 386 g
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #51,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can't Read, Write, or Add Paperback – Sep 15 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
Sykes argues that educators' emphasis on egalitarianism and building self-esteem have caused an eroding of true learning in the American classroom.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“This intelligent and devastating book...brings together every aspect of the current disaster...all in clear, well-researched detail.” ―The Boston Globe
“A spirited call-to-arms...Sykes asks brave questions.” ―Cleveland Plain Dealer
“A scathing critique that grabs America's educational establishment by the scruff and shakes it...Parents and visionary educators, if not educrats, should sit up and take notice.” ―Kirkus Review
“A very important book.” ―Washington Post Book WorldSee all Product description
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I, however, went to public school, and worked for many years in a well-known university's teacher education college (one which one reviewer here attended, but I won't name names). I worked with fledgeling teachers. I read their materials. I set up their AV equipment. I saw their lesson plans.
We are in very big trouble, America, is all I've got to say. If I ever have kids, they are getting home schooling or going to a reputable private school that values achievement -- and I'm not the only person who worked there who thought the same thing. Sykes is RIGHT ON, and the Amazon reviews of the book are totally accurate. My stomach turned as I read the book, because I knew from personal observation that he was writing the truth. I hope more people read this book and see what's going on in our schools.
I read this book through several times, and it is just so packed full of information! I come from a family of public school teachers, and I am a homeschooler, partly because of what I have heard from the p.s. teachers in my family. There are problems inherent in the public school systems, and in this book, many of them are delineated.
Sykes briefly touches on the impact of psychological and psychiatric programs in the schools, but I think he fails to realize that they are actually BEHIND many of the other problems. This is why I give this book 4 stars instead of 5.
Combined with The Leipzig Connection, I think this book could make a huge difference for many children -- if only their parents and educators would read them.
While I strongly disagree with several of Sykes' key conclusions, the book reaffirmed the need to keep student expectations high. I cannnot discount the key idea of this book that we expect too little of students and focus too much on non-academic ideas. It is always interesting and critical to "look at the other side of the argument." As a teacher, I expect that of my students. How can I not do the same? Although it is clearly a "right wing" look at education, I recommend this for educators, if for no other reason than to spur thought, discussion and debate on the status quo.
Read the book ... it's worth every cent!!
Some of the negative reviews of this book are perfect illustrations of what Sykes is talking about in his book. Faced with a well-reasoned, research-based criticism, proponents of the System respond not with a rational defense of their views or with civilized discourse, but by calling Sykes a "freak reactionary" and denouncing his book as "typical narrow-minded, right-wing bellyaching." Another reviewer calls it "bubble-brained right-wing blather." This just demonstrates how politicized and anti-intellectual the public education system is - and these are the people to whom we entrust our children's education.
This book is extremely well-written and well-researched. The "Scenes From the Front" break up the barrage of statistics with compelling anecdotes that serve to put a face to the statistics he sites in previous chapters. Anybody concerned about the education of their children or of America's children in general should read this book. I just graduated from college with a degree in music education, and now that I've read it, I won't even consider working in a public school.
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