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Square Peg: My Story and What It Means for Raising Innovators, Visionaries, and Out-of-the-Box Thinkers

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  225 ratings  ·  43 reviews
In the seventh grade, Todd Rose was suspended—not for the first time—for throwing six stink bombs at the blackboard, where his art teacher stood with his back to the class. At eighteen, he was a high school dropout, stocking shelves at a department store for $4.25 an hour. Today, Rose is a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Square Peg illuminates t
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Hachette Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  225 ratings  ·  43 reviews

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Jenny GB
Apr 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
Todd Rose's book claims to be a how-to guide to raise out of the box kids as well as a "game changing manifesto" that provides "groundbreaking insight into how we can get the most out of all the students in our classrooms". Wow, boast much? Not surprisingly, this doesn't live up to that hype. This book is primarily an autobiography of Rose's life, particularly as it relates to his misbehavior and trouble in school. Even now and then Rose discusses some research on topics such as emotions powerfu ...more
Kyle Schutter
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
clearly something is wrong with education. one size fits most leaves too many kids behind.
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Albert Camus said, "We are all special cases." Square Peg: My Story and What It Means for Raising Innovators, Visionaries, and Out-of-the-Box Thinkers by Todd Rose, with Katherine Ellison, certainly proves that we are all special and unique, especially in the way we approach learning. Square Peg is both a memoir and a personal manifesto. Todd Rose was a bright child who could not seem to avoid trouble and was quickly labeled a delinquent. Part of his problem was the way the educational system re ...more
Mar 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent reading for those who don't follow a conventional path through school and life. The author dropped out of high school mid-way through his senior year and is now a professor of education at Harvard. This book provides very helpful points for parents and unconventional students. He describes four primary concepts to keep in mind: (1) variability among people means that conventional systems aren't appropriate for everyone; (2) emotion plays a big part in how students (and authority figure ...more
Feb 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
This made me look at my students differently.
May 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Parents with struggling/hyperactive kids
The story of the Square Peg is a book every parent who has a troubled child should read. There are so many parents out there who have forgotten what it means to be a kid, especially being a kid in today's times. I'm not sure when it happens, but it seems that as soon as adults turn into parents, they lose all sense of reality and common sense. They like to believe that what they are doing is best for their kids, when sometimes it is not. This book explains the trouble the author had growing up b ...more
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you have a child who learns differently, no matter what their challenge is you need to read this book. Presented in a relate-able way from someone who has lived the experience of "being different". Each chapter is short and manageable as far as information and he provides a recap of the most important parts for you to take away. ...more
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a short, compelling book that education leaders should read. The author was a hyperactive, disruptive, mostly unlikable child. He flunked out of school. But he went on to be accepted to Harvard. How does that happen, and what can we learn from his experience?

The author has some practical advice that will interest parents and should also interest policy makers. Given its brevity, it merits a wide audience.
Mar 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was reading this as a child, not as a parent, but this book was incredible. I can relate so much to this man's story. My mother read it, and she said that it was like reading my story - I want to thank Todd Rose for this, and I would recommend this book to anyone is a kid who "thinks outside the box" and parents raising said kids. This was brilliantly written, and was something I could relate to personally. ...more
May 27, 2013 rated it it was ok

This is more a memoir than an education book. The author has some wonderful insights on the struggles of ADHD and other assorted issues. There is also some interesting research. However I found myself noticing that he never took full responsibility or showed remorse for the terrible things he did while growing up. I know he struggled growing up but the excuses became tiring.
Oct 25, 2015 added it
So glad I read this. Changed the way I view Claire's behavior. ...more
Helen Moses
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: professional
Good to read in connection with Normal...
Rob Jacobs
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very honest and revealing. Great perspective for educators.
May 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Original review here

I participate in a Facebook group where the discussion centers largely around learning differences in students, and ideas for helping those students receive an education that works for them. The group was born when a friend of mine met a lot of resistance from both her child's teacher and the school/school district in trying to get her daughter help. She also met plenty of resistance from the educational system in trying to figure out why she was struggling in the first place
Laura (booksnob)
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013, non-fiction, memoir
Square Peg is, in part, a memoir about L. Todd Rose's experience growing up a misunderstood, wild and out of control kid with ADHD. He is every teachers nightmare, throwing stink bombs in school. He ends up making a lot of mistakes including, failing high school and is three steps short of being a juvenile delinquent. He had a couple of things going for him though, a mother who loved and accepted him and the will to succeed. He uses this will to succeed to reinvent himself. Square Peg is the sto ...more
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I've been reading a lot about education lately. I got this book because of this NPR article, "Standards, Grades And Tests Are Wildly Outdated, Argues 'End Of Average,'" Feb. 16, 2016 ( I also watched his TED talk,

After his article and TED talk, I thought, "Yeah, but not everyone will work for Google. Not everyone will be president of the United States or even of a company. I'm not sure you can change the whole system to supp
Feb 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Spoiler alert

I am at the midpoint in the book where he is starting to get his act together. Up to this point I think he is a sociopath who is coddled by his mother. His father seems a distant and strict character who does not try to make any attachment with him and does not try a more personal approach to modifying his behavior. As a child he is totally self-involved with no desire to control his behavior (and, again, not much real help in getting it corrected). He proved that he could have chan
Susan Olesen
Oct 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
Eh? ADHD kid goes from high school dropout to Harvard professor while his family lives on the brink for more than 10 years. While he is the absolute picture of my son, down to the core, and I share much in common with his wits-end mother, beyond that, the book told me nothing I did not already know. Swapping chapters or sections of self-reflection with current trends in research, the book seemed choppy and shallow in places. I have read better books on similar subjects (Gladwell's Outliers), rea ...more
Sandy D.
Interesting memoir by a guy who grew up in the 80's and 90's with severe ADHD. He dropped out of high school after failing too many classes to graduate, but did get his GED, go on to college, and eventually grad school...ending up teaching at Harvard.

His story reads like some of the stories I've read in special needs forums online...some horrid teachers, some amazing teachers & mentors, and a very patient and perceptive (and long-suffering) mother. It is extremely well-written, and I particularl
Mar 19, 2013 rated it liked it
The author was a really rough elementary school kid, diagnosed with ADHD, who became a middle school troublemaker and eventual high school drop out. Surprisingly, he eventually ended up a Harvard graduate and faculty member on their education team. His story is very interesting and he has a lot of forward-thinking ideas about learning disabilities that include variability, context, open loops, and more. I read as much about ADHD studies and theory as I can, and this one didn't disappoint. Howeve ...more
Mark Klempner
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
At first I had mixed feelings about the split perspective the author offers: one minute he is offering himself as an example of someone who was a screw up in his K-12 education. The next minute he is offering information and research findings as a member of the faculty at Harvard College School of Education. But by the end of the book I felt that this dual approach not only kept things interesting but both of those Todds had valuable information and life experience to offer. I wish all teachers ...more
Vichna Belsky
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. oddly, I also like the smell of skunk.

A great line: (paraphrased)

There is a difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.

I felt like this so much spoke to me because I have that kind of brain where I can understand so much about something but forget all the labels. This was disaster in History, and caused a lot of trouble in Science, where my marks never nearly reflected my grasp of what was happening.
This book not only helped me understand my son’s impulsivity and learning “differences,” but also my own. If you and/or your child have learning differences (Rose didn’t call them disorders, which I loved immediately), then you’ll want to read this book. He has an important perspective and I appreciate his work on trying to reform our current educational system to fit everyone and not just the “average” pupil of which doesn’t exist.
Amy Louise
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
An enlightening first-person account of what it's like to be "THAT kid" in the classroom—and of how to help him be successful if you're his parent, teacher, or community.

The rest of its title, all that "visionary thinker" stuff, is not so much in this book, but Rose's story was still thought-provoking.
Jan 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A quick read, mostly about the author's life story growing up as a kid diagnosed with ADHD who flunked out of high school and then went on to graduate from Harvard and now teaches there.

I don't feel like I really learned anything mind-blowingly new from this book, but I did enjoy reading again about how intelligence is so diverse and has everything to do with context.

Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Valuable look at how our monolithic system fails students who learn differently--even as studies increasingly show that we all learn differently. I only wish Rose more honestly addressed the role of privilege in his ascent from high school dropout to HGSE faculty, and acknowledged how much more unlikely that would be for underprivileged students. That truth only underscores Rose's message. ...more
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
Loved every second of this long overdue book about the innermost workings of a boy with adhd. Hopefully our educators will pick up a copy of this book over the summer and gain some valuable insight into the best way to improve our schools.
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
Wish I could encourage all teachers, parents, friends etc to read this book. The main idea: learning is more varied than we have ever believed- when we teach to standardize students we crush or eliminate those students best suited for the innovation the world really needs.
May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
I liked the way the author tied in the neuroscience and psychology with the concrete examples from his own life. I think some parents that have 'square peg' children could benefit from reading this book. ...more
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book reinforced what I've long thought about education...there is no way all kids learn when "teaching to the middle." This is a great read for parents who realize their children's needs are not being met in a standard education system. ...more
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Todd Rose is the cofounder and president of The Center for Individual Opportunity, and a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His work is focused on the science of the individual and its implications for advancing self-knowledge, developing talent, and improving our institutions of opportunity. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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