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Beyond the Classroom Hardcover – June 4, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

America's inner-city schools are not the only ones in trouble, according to social scientist Steinberg, an authority on adolescent development. In 1985, he and his colleagues began "the most extensive study ever conducted" on forces in youngsters' lives that affect interest and performance in school in order to understand why students' commitment to school was apparently so tenuous. The results of their nationwide study, presented here in jargon-free, accessible language, indicate a widespread peer culture that demeans adolescents who are seriously engaged in their schooling and indifference on the part of parents to their children's academic achievement. Taking issue with school reform, Steinberg offers a different perspective where remedy will be found not in schools but in students' lives outside of school and in changed social and parental attitudes. Steinberg directs the Division of Developmental Psychology at Temple. Brown and Dornbush are social scientists at the University of Wisconsin and Stanford, respectively.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In its refutation of the idea of educational reform, this book is quite different from many others that propose ways to improve our schools and classrooms. The key findings are based on a nationwide survey of more than 20,000 students in junior high schools and high schools. Rather than criticize teaching methods and theory, Steinberg (developmental psychology, Temple Univ.) focuses on life outside of school: students' homes, peer groups, parents' attitudes, and community environments. These important factors, the author argues, have a great impact on student achievement. Steinberg's analytical studies of declining SAT scores, comparisons of ethnicity and adolescent achievement, and examination of the family's role in education provide valuable information for every concerned parent, teacher, journalist, and school administrator. The book is written for a general audience. Recommended for all types of libraries.?Samuel T. Huang, Northern Illinois Univ. Libs., Dekalb
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (June 4, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 068480008X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684800080
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,989,079 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Stacy L. Sinclair, Doctoral Student on April 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
Steinberg's book is a splash of cold water making readers face the real state of student achievement in America by focusing on what is influencing our high school students. Through this 10 year longitudinal study, interviewing more than 20,000 students and their parents, and comparing these findings with other prominent studies, Steinberg uncovers the root causes for low student achievement in America as compared to students in other countries and therefore why school reform initiatives have failed.
With an emphasis on student engagement in learning, the study looks at factors such as parenting strategies, the influence of peers and extracurricular activities. Steinberg looks primarily at issues beyond the school walls as the data shows these influences (large scale) are greater indicators of student success or failure than teacher's classroom practice or organization of the school system. Each factor is analyzed through the lens of socio-economic status, ethnicity, peer relationships and length of time since immigration to this country. As a result, the reader is forced to question the American culture; the attitudes, beliefs and values we perpetuate.
The good news is working hard in school is a strong predictor of academic achievement. Friends and group identity at school make a difference as do parenting techniques. The issues that we need to face are the rampant disengagement of parents in their children's lives, a peer culture that demeans academic success and scorns students who work hard and the negative impact on excessive extracurricular activity on student's achievement.
Steinberg makes 10 recommendations to begin refocusing the country's efforts. Each requires our society to take a good hard look at how we `do business'.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Corey on October 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
Steinberg's book "Beyond the Classroom" uses extensive research to determine what every teacher knows really goes on in schools. The VAST majority of schools do their very best to prepare students for whatever the student's future holds, but many students and their families don't value the education enough to really work at it. That is why American performance lags behind that of other industrial nations. I teach high school and I see the "slacker" culture that pervades. Although Steinberg would not go that far, I know that the Media portrays underachievers, and goof offs as cool people, and academics as nerds. Many students simply don't make the effort to learn because they take it for granted and they put things like jobs, sports, and social life ahead of study. Our problems with public education do not begin in the schools, the consumer culture of America teachees children how to think and the results are manifest in the schools. His research supports what I see every day in the classroom. I don't buy what conservative policticians say, because they are not on the front lines like I am. They never include teachers in Ed Reform because they see us as part of the problem. We can help make schools better, but only when parents and children care about it enough. Steinberg hits the nail on the head.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Mark Jackson Ed.D. on January 13, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In summarizing over a decade of academic research into high school student achievement, Laurence Steinberg, in Beyond the Classroom-Why School Reformed has Failed and What Parents Need to Do, poses an alternative hypothesis. He argues that poor student achievement and low student commitment are determined outside the school and therefore, attempts to solve the problem of American education through school reform are ineffective. Steinberg offers that a lack of engagement on the part of students has pervaded American teenagers across all socio-economic layers and is the root cause of school failure.
The author effectively develops his argument by defining and comparing engaged and disengaged students. He then cites research into ethnicity, parenting, extra-curricula activities, and peer grouping as the contributors and distracters to academic engagement. His analysis of the significance of peer group influences provides validation of what many parents would argue as common sense findings. Throughout the text Steinberg masterfully presents traditional arguments from both sides of the political spectrum and answers them with findings supported by research data.
Beyond the Classroom closes with ten recommendations for parents, educators, and government officials. Unfortunately, Steinberg's recommendations suggest that improvement in student performance requires societal structural changes that at best assume active acceptance and participation of a majority of citizens engaged in social reform. However, to believe that a society disengaged from it's educational system - a system responsible in large part for proliferating the attributes of citizenship - can develop the will to make such systematic change is unrealistic.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By L. Ralston on January 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
There is no doubt that our schools are living through tough times. The public school system was created with the premise that many students would not do well and would go on into blue-collar jobs. The schools were there to educated those who would go into college. Today, almost all parents want their kids to go to college, thus schools are expected to get all kids ready, using an old system.
The battle cry over the past few years has been "back to basics" and "tougher standards for students and teachers." Steinberg claims we need to refocus our attention away from reform of schools to changing students and parents attitudes about school and learning. He claims a way to do this is to make grades mean something - parents have to emphasize doing well in school as more important than socializing, sports or after-school work. Colleges have to create and enforce tougher admissions, and eliminate remedial college courses that simply bring freshman up to college-level expectations. Parents have to be involved in school. He even claims that standards can be useful, if they are uniform for every participant in the system, from K-12 to higher Ed. And lastly, students need to realize that not only the grades they earn, but what they learn, will have a huge impact on the rest of their lives.
As a parent of a 13-year old - soon-to-be HS freshman, this book has given me a new perspective on how to support her. As a K-8 educator, I see new ways of looking at standards and the back-to-basics push. I don't agree with all that Steinberg has said, but this book does speak of the public school systems difficulties in a fresh new manner.
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