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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very important book FOR PARENTS.
In my opinion, this book has life-changing information for parents. I am so thrilled to see so many educators all over the world be inspired by RCA. My hope is that parents all over the world will consider this "required reading" for themselves.
Part II of the book is geared specifically toward parents, and it is OUTSTANDING. "Don't be a Helicopter Parent. You can't...
Published on July 29, 2011 by Ms Gibbs

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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dedication to Teaching... and Nothing Else
Took me awhile to decide between 2 stars or 3. I got the book because I read a review of it and it seemed interesting. Ron Clark has an amazing amount of energy and dedication, and so too, do the teachers at his school. They are willing to get there early and put in 10-12 hour days to make sure their students learn and do their very best. I'm curious about whether any...
Published 13 months ago by khf


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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very important book FOR PARENTS., July 29, 2011
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In my opinion, this book has life-changing information for parents. I am so thrilled to see so many educators all over the world be inspired by RCA. My hope is that parents all over the world will consider this "required reading" for themselves.
Part II of the book is geared specifically toward parents, and it is OUTSTANDING. "Don't be a Helicopter Parent. You can't rescue them forever" speaks to the importance of letting children learn to deal with disappointment, and how to handle the situation. Mr. Clark illustrates these points with a truly amazing story. (Ron, you definitely deserved a Krispy Kreme in front of American Idol after THAT experience. Your patience is really commendable.) The chapter entitled "Remind children of their blessings and stress the value of a strong work ethic" really stood out to me as well. There are so many wonderful, American affluent communities (like the one we live in) and the parents are hard working and well-meaning, but it is so easy to fall into bad habits that can create children with "entitlement issues." As a mother of a 10-year-old boy, the chapter, "Don't get your kids a video game system unless you are prepared to be a prison guard," really hit close to home. We have a game system, and it is a challenge to control his use of it. I gleaned several great ideas from this chapter.
But this is not just "garden variety parenting advice." Mr. Clark explains how these basic childrearing concepts are critical for a student's success in school, and beyond. Mr. Clark is right on - we DO need a full blown education "revolution" in our country. And it will not work unless parents PARTNER with the teachers and the schools. Mr. Clark has done of fine job of providing very specific suggestions on how to implement positive changes in our children's school experience. He does this with compelling real-life stories and shares his personal experiences with kids and their families. He has laid out an excellent "revolution strategy." I hope we all embrace it.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dedication to Teaching... and Nothing Else, July 30, 2013
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Took me awhile to decide between 2 stars or 3. I got the book because I read a review of it and it seemed interesting. Ron Clark has an amazing amount of energy and dedication, and so too, do the teachers at his school. They are willing to get there early and put in 10-12 hour days to make sure their students learn and do their very best. I'm curious about whether any of them have families, however. I teach my 2nd graders and do my very best and devote time and energy planning lessons and learning new strategies/content, however, I can't stay there all night doing bigger and better because I have 4 children of my own who need me so THEY can be all they can be. My children take up much of my free time with their activities (which is as it should be) which means I don't have free time to go to my students' after school activities. There has to be a balance in life - work, family, fun. Ron Clark and his teachers run an amazing school it seems like, but do they have that balance? How much time do they spend with their own families? How excellent are they for their own children? First and foremost, I'm dedicated to my children and then I'm dedicated to my job. In that order. Does that make me a bad teacher? No. I struggle with teaching "methods" that mean you have to be dedicated to your job only and nothing else.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An attempt at dealing with scalability in school reform, August 18, 2011
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My wife is a teacher; I work part time with an after school program. My Mother-in-Law just retired as a principal in June and my Mom retired as a teacher last year. Many of my friends are related to education in one way or another. Personally, I spend a fair amount of time reading about and thinking about education theory and practice (at least for a non-educator).

School reform is a hot topic, but the largest problem, in my mind, is scalability. There are many very good solutions to the problems of education, but very few of them really scale because they are so dependent on either the people or the cultural context where they are working.

Ron Clark is a teacher and administrator that is trying to deal with the problem of scalability. He is the co-founder of a demonstration school in Atlanta. The school was built with the express purpose of teaching other teachers how to better reach students. (It is a middle school because that is the age that Ron Clark believes is most in need of help.) So each classroom has a class of about 30 student and stadium seating for about 80 adults. My wife and Mother-in-Law and many teachers I know have visited the school. I am currently trying to get some of the people that work in the after school program in Chicago to come down and visit.

The End of Molasses Classes is the latest book by Ron Clark about his teaching method. I have read his two previous book and they were directed at teachers and more about how he teachers. This book is broader, for teachers and parents and other people interested in education. It more about the general method of how the Ron Clark Academy works and why it works.

The format is 101 short chapters (some less than a page, very few more than 2 or 3 pages). Most chapters have a story to illustrate the point of the short chapter and a little explanation. Clark knows how to tell a story. He is a bigger than life, over the top, never can exert too much energy type of person. I went with my wife to the book release party and he never stopped. He signed about 1000 books, hugged and talked to every person, and did not stop moving all night. He is all about the energy, but there is more than just energy. He has well thought out principles that are behind the success of the school. One of the most obvious from the book is how much he values his staff, parents and students. He spends most of the book talking about how much the people around him have made the school a success. Clark is not a shy man, but he is also not hogging the credit.

The major issue really is time and effort. Ron Clark Academy teachers work from before 8 to around 6 every day at school. Then most days they need to work at home to prepare for the next day or grade. Ron Clark and the co-founder told one another they would essentially ignore family and all other responsibilities for the first three years of the school to get it off the ground, and in the book he says that has not been long enough. I am editing this at about 6 AM. My wife is walking out the door to go to school. Yesterday she got home at about 6:30. We have said we will not have children because we cannot do our jobs and have kids. Obviously that is not going to work for all teachers. And it cannot really be expected for all teachers.

Not every teacher is going to teach like Ron Clark, he knows that. But he does hope that teachers realize that they are important to the process and that it is essential that teachers find the best way to engage their students. This is not a blame book, but he is clear that teachers and schools can only do so much. Without parent support, even the best teachers will often not be able to help students succeed to their full potential. I am seriously considering going to visit the school myself because I want to know more about it. If you have any interest in education, or you are a parent, this is a good book about what needs to be done to move students to the next level. If you are a teacher, get this and read it before school starts, you will be encouraged and ready to start the year.

Originally published on my blog at bookwi.se
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This year's best read!, July 26, 2011
Ron Clark's newest book is filled with motivational learning expectations and new strategies, along with Mr. Clark's fantastic sense of humor. Mr. Clark's "call for revolution" is truly inspiring. He points out 101 ways we can make education extraordinary. He discusses fearless teaching, fearless learning, which results in fearless living. I was truly inspired by the comments in the book, such as, "Not every child deserves a cookie", and "Teach the parents the correct way to tutor their children". The End of Molasses Classes is a must-have for teachers, students, principals and parents alike. I have purchased several books for my employees! Jeff Anderson, Audio Enhancement.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars To be a great teacher, you can't be anything else, October 10, 2012
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I had hopes for this book. Instead I got more discouragement. The author has dedicated his entire existence to his school. That's great, but my own children need something left of their mother when I get home. Teaching is hard, often thankless, and certainly not lucrative. I was hoping Ron Clark would give me more practical advice for helping my inner city students. I wish him well, but I cant share the extent of his commitment.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars At times a little too sticky., November 13, 2012
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I admire the guy. He has a true passion and he certainly goes above and beyond for his students. If you are looking to find some achievable ideas for your classroom that are highly specific then this is not the book for you. If, however, you are looking to be inspired and reminded why you decided to be a teacher in the first place then dive on in. A little too full on at times, but that's also what made it such an inspiring read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly-engaging!, December 30, 2012
Ron Clark is not only an amazingly innovative and dedicated teacher, he is a darn good writer, too. He keeps the reader engaged with his lively language, anecdotes, and stories. I've worked as a classroom teacher, a reading specialist, private tutor, consultant, and homeschooling parent, so I'm very plugged in to educational reform. I enjoy reading about innovators in the field of education. Don't be put off by Mr. Clark's extreme devotion (which some may feel is impossible to replicate). Rather, be in awe of it and take what lessons you can to apply in your own school, classroom, or home. I was very inspired by Mr. Clark's book and have since shared it with other educators and principals.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE LOVE LOVE - this book is a truth burrito wrapped up in one funny inspirational tortilla, August 3, 2011
There is truth and inspiration in every captivating page. No excuses, read for solutions! Dry off that wet kindling and light your fire! The only reason why you would put this book down is because it IS on fire!

Those who care TEACH! And those who care about teaching will read this book! It is a must-have manual for every educator that refuses to settle for average results and strives to keep raising the bar. Ron Clark and his academy dance the "obmil" on a daily basis. The bar keeps being raised and raised, never lowered. No matter what new challenges educators face from year to year, the Ron Clark Academy keeps inspiring all types of students to become passionate life-long learners. I worry that some schools and educators fear failure and under so many pressures to meet the needs of so many diverse learners, end up doing the limbo in their schools...but not at the Ron Clark Academy. If we set better goals, we will get better results. His honesty on how to achieve this is OH SO REFRESHING!

Thanks for keeping it real (and real funny), Ron! Keep on dancing the obmil and inspiring others to do the same! Shout-out to NC Teaching Fellows - light your fire and go out and inspire!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oprah, stick to entertainment recommendations, August 2, 2013
A few good ideas, but lots of critique and few viable solutions that won't put any halfway caring teacher to an early grave. There is nothing exceptional about this guy or the approach that could be replicated with similar funding, but the assumption that teachers who want a bit of a balance between work and school don't care enough is insulting.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT an evidence based text on teaching, March 7, 2014
By 
TucsonShopper (Tucson, Arizona) - See all my reviews
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All of the negative reviews of this book are valid. First, $18,000 a year for an education is simply something the country can't afford (even if the students can due to most being on scholarships) - and I understand that amount doesn't include all the corporate gifts like free plane tickets. Second, an educational system that doesn't allow the founder any personal life is also too expensive (one of the problems with this book is a complete lack of time management ideas for either educators or students). Third, there is no science in this book and so doesn't really promote an evidence based (except for his many anecdotal stories) process. This is required by federal Reading First law (sadly ignored by 97% of schools including Ron's). For example, the chapter on music doesn't tell WHY studies show math scores go up 20% from a music program nor does it discuss the educational value of PBS having the calm Mr. Rogers AFTER the exciting Sesame Street showing how to use music to encourage a rhythm or heartbeat to learning. I suspect the reason is that he doesn't know.

So far, this doesn't sound like a 5-star review, which it wouldn't be if I saw Ron Clark as a teacher. But, he is rather an Olympic level cheerleader and this is a book more about living than it is about teaching. I had several great teachers (3 to 4) in my K-12 education but I would have traded them all for one Ron Clark. A century ago, famous teacher Mary Jane Bethune was known to "give out faith and hope as if they were pills and she some sort of doctor." Since Bethune, great educators have not been recognized for their teaching skills but instead for their cheerleading skills. And, THAT is why this book should be read by every teacher, administrator, and parent. I really enjoy watching the Daily Show but I learn more from Frontline (which I watch less often). But, I would prefer a show that combined them. While you should research Multisystemic Therapy (MST) for the soul of teaching and the now defunct Koalaty Kids program (based on the only education award presented by the President) for the mind or in other words how to fill the cup, you should read this book for the first and foremost "heart" job of lighting the fire.

My very FAVORITE quote from this book is: "Most parents would rather see their child get a good education where they received straight A's and praise than an outstanding education where they struggled and received C's." Every negotiator says similarly that every discussion should Start with NO...The Negotiating Tools that the Pros Don't Want You to Know. I believe (as does MST) we should NEVER blame the child (also see Blaming the Victim) but rather ALWAYS blame the professionals and adults (Family Therapy can blame parents and MST can blame teachers and even therapists, which is why IMHO there are very few studies on Family Therapy and no school that uses MST - children are just easier to blame). Clark's ability to change your view of education and willingness to accept more responsibility for it will be the best measure of our country's future (with education being the silver bullet for all social ills).

Discouraged by a 1983 White House conference, Dr. George Mckenna once said, "The President's people wanted to crack down on kids, but I'd rather crack down on the system." Ron, I think, would agree but phrase it more politically correct. George Mckenna turned around one of the worst schools in LA as principal (1986), but 123 of his original 142 teachers left and those who stayed continued to complain about the heavy work load (as do Clark's teachers). The Teacher's Union filled a dozen complaints against Dr. McKenna (see movie Hard Times, which decided not to show the gross embezzling he uncovered) until he was fired in 1993. He is quoted as saying "The one thing that is not wrong with the school is the kids." Marva Collins was similarly resented, criticized, and ostracized by teachers who sent her hate mail and began rumors she beat her students and just did their work for them as "everyone knows Second Graders simply can't produce that level of writing!" Her movie didn't show any of that either. Sadly she didn't last a year in public education but 60 Minutes did a couple of shows about her private school in the 80's - 90's on how many of her "learning disabled" kids graduated college cum laude. Sadly, she had to close her school in 2008 (even though tuition was only $5,500 a year) since no one in America still wanted to attend. Finally, the new principal that reassigned Dr. Jaime Escalente to asbestos removal and then fired him as well as all his complaining teachers said, "They're just disgruntled former employees, such backbiting only hurts the kids." The movie Stand and Deliver didn't show how other teachers routinely sent him hate mail and threats. John Perex, VP of Teachers Union, said, "Jaime didn't get along with some of the teachers at his school. He pretty much was a loner." Two years later (after Jaime was forced to move to Bolivia to find a job), only 4 students passed BC Calculus (when a few years earlier over 25% of ALL American's Mexicans passing AP exams were his students). Reformers should take a close look at what was done to Escalante, Collins, and McKenna to understand our biggest educational problems. Just as important, and what should be included in this text but is missing here as well, is how success requires working in teams. We simply are not good at teams (or with using tools like Six Sigma Team Charters, etc).

For example, all of the movies about "heroic" teachers mentioned above are all sort of lies as those teachers would never have been so successful without the help of others not shown. The 1989 movie Stand and Deliver about Dr. Escalante never tells how he lied (he told students school rules forbade them from dropping out and he told their parents law required him to call immigration if their kids didn't attend school) or how his fellow teachers routinely sent him hate mail. It also never mentions the critically needed expertise of the principal and school counselor. But, even his team wasn't large enough. The principal was moved to another school, the counselor pushed out, and Escalante discouraged and then fired. Alas, not a single parent complained. Not one of these America's Greatest Teachers have yet started the needed revolution of reorganizing education n America. The key problem with each of the aforementioned stories (never shown in any movie) is how parents NEVER fought for great teachers (they only occasionally lucked into one, and luck doesn't last). Without the fight, however, no great teacher could ever make a real difference. It all comes down to you. Ron's idea is to start with feeling good about the possibilities (for students, educators, parents, and friends). I believe this is Ron's best book to date and so it may have the best chance in finally inspiring you to consider real change (not just in others). You can do this. Highly recommended and highly needed.
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