RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Reading Suggestions

From: Melissa Bradford <>
Date: Tue Sep 26 10:11:01 2006

What makes a book discussion choice interesting for me is not that the
book is perfect or that I agree with it all, but that it makes me look
at things in new ways. Both Everything Bad is Good for You and Judith
Harris' book are great at looking at our common assumptions, such as
"the way children turn out is totally dependent on what their parents
do" and "video games & tv dumb us down", and causing us to reflect and
question those assumptions. This is what I like about them, because I
think that is the exact thought process we need to get people to rethink
their common assumptions about education.

~ Melissa

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Scott David
Sent: Monday, September 25, 2006 7:07 PM
Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Reading Suggestions

     Killing Monsters is a great book, through and through -- heck
Gerard Jones (the author) is a great comic book writer.

     Everything Bad is Good For You has a peculiar problem with it...
     The author doesn't remain committed to his thesis. In the last
chapter (or two?) he expresses doubts, and back-peddles, offering no
explanation or evidence for his back-peddling. It is *conceivable* that
he is being ironic, and doing so poorly -- but it seems more likely to
me that he is either buckling to "political" demands by his publisher to
get his book published or giving voice to his own inner demons. It
really reminds me of Augustine's confessions -- applying reason humility
and humor for pages, and then suddenly announcing with no clear
explanation "but of course the scriptures tell us this, instead, so you
can ignore the other arguments I built."

     Judith Harris's book over-sell its point I think, and makes a
too-big deal of a relatively simple point. And, in fact, the book reads
like an opportunity for neglectful parents to excuse themselves. Her
thesis is that there *are* no parenting techniques that work. However, a
careful review of the social science literature finds no clear
*proactive* parenting strategies (cultural outings together, reading
aloud, family mealtime, banning video games, playing video games
together) that make any statistically noticeable difference in future
happiness or misery or "success" by any various criterion -- but finds a
plethora of parental *attitudes* and *circumstances* that
*do* seem to make a difference on various measures (whether or not the
parents are respectful or disrespectful to one another other adults and
children, whether or not they show sincere concern and caring, whether
or not they find are employed, whether or not they find their outside
jobs fulfilling).

     Not precisely books on how people learn, but books from which one
can take away a great deal of relevant information, as well as a sense
of how the current traditional education system was established: David
Nasaw is an historian of the family and children's life, and wrote two
spectacular books that come to mind -- Schooled to Order, and Children
of the City.

On 9/25/06, Melissa Bradford <> wrote:
> Along the lines of "Killing Monsters", I'd also recommend "Everything
> Good is Bad for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us

> Smarter", by Steven Johnson". I really enjoyed this book! I was glad

> to find out my favorite TV shows are good for me. :-)
> Along the lines of parenting books, "Raising Self-Reliant Children in
> a Self-Indulgent World" by H Stephen Glenn was one that resonated with

> me when I was a new parent, and certainly helped me be open to the
> ideas of Sudbury education.
> Melissa
> Illinois
> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> [] On Behalf
> Of Mimsy Sadofsky
> Sent: Monday, September 25, 2006 5:38 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Reading Suggestions
> "Killing Monsters"
> Mimsy Sadofsky
> On Sep 25, 2006, at 2:17 PM, Joseph Moore wrote:
> Joseph from Diablo Valley School here.
> We're celebrating the 10th anniversary of our school this year. One
> event we're sponsoring is a monthly reading group at a local library,
> which we hope will attract some parents. The tentative title is: How
> Do Kids Really Learn? A Fresh Look at Education.
> Here's why I'm pestering you all: we need about 8 - 9 books/readings,
> and I thought the people on this list would have good ideas. The plan
> here is to NOT hit people over the head too much (which is hard for
> me, personally, given what a horror traditional schooling is), but to
> ease into the topic at first, then move on to more pointed stuff over
> time. So, what books or readings would you reccommend that shed light
> on why it's a good idea to trust kids, to recognize and nurture their
> responsibility for their own education, and to lay off the little
> butts in desks model of education?
> We've already got several (this is all still tentative, so if you've
> got a better idea, fire away)
> 1st month: The Scientist in the Crib. We thought we'd start with
> something about how really small children learn, to lay the groundwork

> for reexamining how we all learn. Plus, one of the authors is local,
> and we'd like to get her for a panel discussion later in the year.
> 2nd month: The Myth of the Lazy Mind.
> Later, we'll do a couple Sudbury Valley books - Reflections on the
> Sudbury School Concept, Kingdom of Childhood? Plus, right at the end,
> one of the John Taylor Gatto books.
> Thanks,
> Joseph

-- Scott David Gray
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