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Doing School: How We Are Creating A Generation Of Stressed Out, Materialistic, And Miseducated Students
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Doing School: How We Are Creating A Generation Of Stressed Out, Materialistic, And Miseducated Students

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  258 ratings  ·  38 reviews
A revealing, and troubling, view of today's American high school students and the ways they pursue high grades and success. Veteran teacher Denise Pope follows five highly regarded students through a school year and discovers that these young people believe getting ahead requires manipulating the system, scheming, lying and cheating.
Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published (first published August 11th 2001)
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As a high school teacher, I would have to say this depiction of American high schools is fairly accurate. Though the school being profiled seems to be an elite one, the mix of students represented does provide a diversity of perspectives. I would love to see a similar book with the teachers' perspectives on their roles and why they make the decisions they do. From my own view, teachers at all levels feel pressure from many angles and often feel constrained by the very system they are working in...more
A fellow teacher recommended this book to me. "You'll be appalled and discouraged!" she warned. After reading this, however, I was not appalled or discouraged, and I was actually dumbfounded as to how she had been teaching for so long and was [appalled and discouraged].

The general idea of this expose is that someone (an admissions officer from Stanford, actually) follows 5 students who are considered the "top of the top" at a privileged high school in California for a year (I'm fairly certain b...more
As a teacher, I do understand, and even desire, the need for educational reform. I agree with some of the points the author makes in this book. However, I am concerned with the limited scope of the study and the lack of consideration of other aspects of the students' lives than just the school system. The book points out all of the issues with the current public school system, and states that there are solutions, but it never discusses any of these said solutions. I am tired of books that choose...more
Eh. Not great, but not terrible. I wasn't a fan of the mostly anecdotal approach; I would have appreciated more concrete, quantitative research. It was well-written, but it certainly didn't offer any alternatives to the "stressed-out" schools under which we operate.
Doing School reveals a disturbing trend in today's high schools. Denise Pope introduces the reader to five students who will stop at nothing to get good grades, including sacrificing their morals. Based on the belief that their grades will be the determinant of their future lives, the reader cannot help but empathize. As such, Pope stresses the importance of taking a closer look at the messages that are sent to today's youth. Sad but true, “doing school” has caused students to lose their LOVE of...more
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Tiny Pants
This book is a lot less scary, and a lot less policy intervention-oriented, than the title leads one to believe. I'm not sure about Pope's strategy of intensively following just five students. Sure, doing extreme cases is fine, but I don't know that having them identified entirely by the school was the best way to go. I think she might have done better to start out observing larger groups of students, and then choose several to focus in on herself. That might have helped the students she gives p...more
Look around, there are always students in every school who take all the AP and honors classes, has the perfect GPA, is a three season varsity athlete, and serve their community. Denise Clark Pope reveals the behind the scene of highly regarded five students to discover what these students believe to take to be such a “perfect” students in her book, Doing School. It is a fascinating book to discover and agree with the students who face challenges and struggle to keep up with high expectations. Th...more
Susan Bazzett-griffith
3.75 stars. An excellent read that follows several over-achieving students who all have different ways about achieving success in school, and none of whom are happy about their options and the boxes they are forced to fit themselves into to do so. I was impressed with the writing of the author and I was intrigued by the stories of each of the kids, especially Roberto and Michelle. I think the book makes excellent points about how the competitive atmosphere of college-prep education makes high sc...more
Jul 26, 2010 Valerie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teachers
Recommended to Valerie by: Denise Pope
Shelves: education
I found this book a little frustrating. I agree with the premise that we should define success on an individual basis and help students achieve that success. And these students all claim to be motivated to get good grades in order to get into college. So they have defined success that way, and they work for it. My classrooms are full of a mix of students, some with goals, and some without. Where do the goals come from? Who will define success for each student?

These case studies followed only stu...more
Lee Fleming
This wasn't really earth-shattering or shocking, but because I spend so much time thinking through at-risk populations, it was good to think about how the middle class are living.

The problem for both ends of the spectrum is the same--they either can't "do" school or they can, but neither set is deeply engaged in learning. I think the solution is similar but of course I am a reformer so I can afford to be optimistic.

Great read for anyone who thinks that the school system is doing "fine" and that...more
This was a really excellent book that chronicles the lives of several high school students from different socio-economic backgrounds - it is such an eye opening view into the world of high school today. It's no longer about getting an education - high school is all about firming up your list of credentials to get into competitive colleges. These kids no longer experienced being high schoolers the way previous generations did - they only have time to sleep a few hours a night. The rest of the tim...more
This book is based on shadowing and in-depth interviews of five successful high school students. Sadly (but perhaps not surprisingly) the author concludes that students--even the best and the brightest--are not really engaged in the learning process, but rather, are just "doing school". When ARE students engaged? Typically only when doing project-based learning or in extracurricular activities. These are the ideal learning experiences--when students feel an intrinsic motivation to do well, when...more
This is a book I read for work, because a local PTA is reading it and we considered doing a program related to it.
It followed the lives of 5 students in high school for one year. Basically, they were all "good" students, but not how you might think. All of them cheated in one way or another. Many knew how to manipulate the teachers and the system and all of them were multi-taskers (doing another subject's homework in a different class, having jobs, clubs, etc).
Most of the information I knew. Y...more
A fantastic book by a fantastic teacher. Not only does Denise cut right through the "unwritten curriculum"--what kids actually learn from school--she also practices what she preaches. She was by far my best teacher in grad school. Being in her classes were an absolute joy because we were never asked to "do school" instead getting to the core of what we were learning. This is not easily done--it takes teachers who are highly skilled at their craft and a school environment that supports this kind...more
The title of this book is excessively inflammatory & judgmental. The author's descriptions of students "working" the system accurately depicts my high school experiences in the 90s and I'm not surprised we have more of the same going on today. I really can't say that I would recommend this book to anyone for any sort of educational insight but it was interesting to get to know the students. Don't hate the player, hate the game. ;-)
Very troubling, so far...and right on target.

Well, these students were all very different, and all "did" high school to fit the ideas of what they needed to do to get into college. Must admit, it opened my eyes to what my girls think about what is "expected" of them, and what they expect of themselves. Some of these kids in this study....I really fear for their psychological health.
Interesting read for parents and teachers. Having taught high schoolers, no real surprise but a good reminder that "performing well" doesn't always mean "learning" and reiterates the need to evaluate students in different ways in addition to grades and tests. Also made me really emphasize with the students who felt an overwhelming pressure to perform well from teachers and parents alike.
a lot of real concerns here mixed with a lot of the usual taking for granted of task management skills that students learn in high school. overly negative like a lot of literature on american public education. we can definitely do better, but let's start to appreciate the versatility and vigilance that school rigor promotes. it's not all bad.
Interesting book about adaptations that five students from an elite high school do to "succeed". Information was validated by my daughter who also attends a similar school that was depicted in the book. The book highlights the choices that high school students may need to make between love of learning vs. what is needed by society to "succeed".
The practices of the students in this study stressed me out just reading about them. I believe this valuable research on the subject of the construct of many of our schools and the ways students (and teachers) adapt to work the system. It was a good read, ad I recommend it to anyone interested in the state of our schools and students.
I began reading this for a job interview that did not pan out. I continued to read it because the message in her work is critical for the field of education today. I am very interested in the direction we take and the philosophies we embrace in education and the impact it has and will have on our children.

As a parent, I thought this book was really thought-provoking. It encouraged me to really think about how I'm guiding my child's future. High school teachers and school administrators should read this book; it's content to so pertinent to today's high school students.
Can't give this anything but one star for the unethical research approach...I happened to recognize one of my high school friends from it as one of the profiles, and found out the author did not TELL her she was going to be in a book. WTF???
Pope's "Doing School" was an amazing book that lets the reader take a look into the world of a modern high school student. If you're the type of reader who enjoys learning about human behavior and culture than this is the book for you!
Imperfect, but one of the most essential books available for teachers and students to reconsider "doing school." Instead of challenging the failures, this is the first thing I've encountered that challenges the success.
found by accident at the Free L; startling how rare this sort of study is. Most studies like this use the student voices in service of their larger goal. It feels as though Pope actually listened to her students.
Jerrid Kruse
For anyone who was a game player this is a pretty obvious book. For those who work hard in school and do everything they're supposed to or didn't play the game this book could provide some interesting insight.
Bought this when I was in high school, in an IB program...I ca almost say I see a lot of my friends in here, they are just like the characters in this book. Not nearly as intense as these kids, though.
Interesting study of 5 students in a high-powered suburban California high school. Easy to read and rather compelling. Just makes me wonder - how well do we REALLY know our students?
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Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed-Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students

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