I expected a lively argument. I found maybe two passionate lines in the whole book. (Note: I also wonder--as other reviewers have--if this was a trans...moreI expected a lively argument. I found maybe two passionate lines in the whole book. (Note: I also wonder--as other reviewers have--if this was a translation problem.) It also smacks a bit of a juvenile plea for her favorite band (French women) not to sell out like everyone else seemingly already has. For the rest of us, she just blandly charts what she believes is/was our decline. Yawn.(less)
While I love Peter Gray's writing--and this book is no exception--I think this particular work may be more for those new to the idea of self-directed...moreWhile I love Peter Gray's writing--and this book is no exception--I think this particular work may be more for those new to the idea of self-directed learning and the importance of play (or perhaps as something to be given to a hesitant partner or questioning family member who isn't sure what you do or why--if you homeschool, unschool, or your child attends a Summerhill- or Sudbury-like school). This belief did not affect my rating of the book; I just mean that if you've read a number of works on play or self-directed learning, you might not find much in the way of new material. What you will find, however, is a wonderful, approachable writing style and he weaves a nice story about how humans seem to be best adapted to learn. Dr. Gray shares an uncanny ability that I love in a few other non-fiction writers: he presents ideas and information as almost the unfolding of a mystery so that you've "solved" the problem yourself before he has presented his final conclusions. Thus, in his writing about being free to learn, the reader is free to discover without ideas being needlessly repeated or so blatant as to be condescending.
His historical references and look into hunter-gatherer societies is interesting when you contrast what, say, toddlers are allowed to do in other societies that many teenagers "cannot" do in ours. And, of course looking at the Sudbury, Summerhill, and unschooling models of learning, he shows that, yes, learning can and does take place in such environments (as it does in _all_ environments as learning is not confined to a "place"). He also includes some "reassuring" anecdotes taken from a survey of past Sudbury students.
So, all in all, while I wasn't necessarily presented with much new information, it was still a nice read and for those who are just beginning to explore this view of "education," this is an ideal work as it covers a good deal of material in one book and also provides many other references if you want to continue reading on similar topics. (less)
So, unlike many of the other reviewers, I'm not a crunchy con. I'm what Mr. Dreher would call a liberal. But, I'd wager I'm not exactly a liberal eith...moreSo, unlike many of the other reviewers, I'm not a crunchy con. I'm what Mr. Dreher would call a liberal. But, I'd wager I'm not exactly a liberal either (perhaps I'm a chewy liberal?). Still, my objective in reading this book was to find common ground and I did find it. In fact, much as it might kill him to think so, Mr. Dreher's crunchy cons have much in common with the infamous "99%." Strictly speaking, they are the 99% too.
Sure, there were things he said in this book that made me cringe or probably went on a bit too long (Yes, arts and crafts bungalows are cozy and homey. Cozy homes make for a nice homelife. Got it. I, too, am fond of architecture and aesthetics. And, I'm not fond of McMansions. Yet, I'm not sure that makes all McMansions less good as homes. What about "home is where the heart is"?) Still, altogether it made me happy to see the similarities I hope existed and I like seeing someone who has many political views opposed to mine be able to see how he was close-minded on some issues (strictly in the name of conformity and party thinking) admit it and call himself out on it. And, not only did he call himself, he called out members of his own party. We're all guilty of this--anytime we adhere to "group-think." But, I wish I could see more members of the party I end up allying with most often do this too.
What was particularly interesting to me was to see what some "conservatives" are trying to conserve as opposed to others and the difference between "pre-Reagan conservatives" and "post-Reagan conservatives." If you're not partying with the GOPartiers, you might not know this distinction and why it's important; I didn't.
All in all, I was happily surprised to find that we American humans do have a lot in common--no matter our "party affiliation." I still do believe and hope that there's a chance we can speak to each other and work together and look past our labels and the areas we are artificially and distractingly put in opposition. Yet, if we realize how much we are alike and how many of us actually have the same goals, how much more could we accomplish _for the people_? (less)
This was the most engaging and interesting non-fiction book I've read to date. The title is unfortunate as it sounds like a self-help book, but, it's...moreThis was the most engaging and interesting non-fiction book I've read to date. The title is unfortunate as it sounds like a self-help book, but, it's all about the various studies and findings on brain plasticity. I think about this book at least once a week.(less)
When I was 13, I declared I would be a vegetarian until I found a decent argument against doing so.
Almost 21 years later, I read this and decided to e...moreWhen I was 13, I declared I would be a vegetarian until I found a decent argument against doing so.
Almost 21 years later, I read this and decided to eat meat (local and pastured only of course!). Not only does Ms. Kingsolver have more than a decent argument against vegetarianism, there's so much else to this book that it's worth an annual read--since I assume everyone at least in the US has read it or been exposed by now. (less)