Customer Reviews: The Essential 55: Discover the Successful Student in Every Child
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on July 30, 2012
I had to read these books (11+55) for a masters class. He is just the worst. I have never once written a review about about a book in my life; however, I keep hearing about how wonderful this douche bag is and I can't decide if I should laugh or cry. I don't spend to much time in elementary schools (middle school teacher), but every now and then during a professional development I will see one of these posters with that smug a hole holding a piece of chalk in his hand and I just get annoyed. I was raised on the east coast and I have been told I can be slightly abrasive at times, but this guy is just ridiculous. There wasn't a day that went by when I had to read this crap that I did not share with my wife the absolute nonsense this guy actually took the time to write down. Seriously...he would begin a chapter about how it's important to be nice. That's fine and all, but he would then proceed to describe how he would set up three course candle lit lunches with soft music for his custodians. I almost peed myself. Then out of nowhere he began to tell the story of how he got to go to the white house because of a trivia game he started with his students. It had absolutely nothing to do with the chapter...he just wanted to tell the world some story and he didn't know how else to make the segue. In another chapter Ron began discussing the importance of living a balanced life. He gave an example of how he would stay up really late correcting papers only to have the students score last in the county in writing. Then out of nowhere he began with his story about how he took them to number one in the county by changing how he taught. The story had almost nothing to do with living a balanced life. He then brought it back around with how he cancelled some ghost writers club and went home took a nap and watched TV. That chapter could have been two pages long...but no...he had to drag that crap out because he wanted to fill pages and describe how with a glance he single handedly gave a friend the courage to compete in a beauty pageant. He then proceeded to fill chapter after chapter about how his rules worked on his "Harlem students" in a pathetic attempt to give validation to his effort. The dude then wrote page after page about how he just wouldn't give up trying to double dutch during recess. On top of this, if he didn't get his way he would flat out bully his students and/or other faculty members in to bending to his ridiculous demands. I guess I am just a cynic. I could drop more R.C gems in this review, but I threw the books out months ago. The only reason I am even writing this review now is because I was looking up another book and saw "55" pop up as a suggestion. I just feel responsible for passing along how much of a joke this dude presents himself to be.....if I'm not part of the solution...I am part of the problem. I just couldn't sit idly by.
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on November 12, 2013
Please find the essential 55 list on the web for free.
These rules are teaching kids to act like robots.
Clarks teacher of the year award was awarded by Disney, the owner
of HIS publishing company! Sounds like Disney pushing books and
this weird agenda. Some rules are normal stuff, but many are
just plain stupid. The majority of students do not need to be told
these "rules".
I will make a list of 100 Essential Rules and write a book! Easy to do!
Maybe Disney will back me and we can sell lots of books and turn kids into

Rule 3
If someone in the class wins a game or does something well,
we will congratulate that person. Claps should be at least
three seconds in length with the full part of both hands
meeting in a manner that will give the appropriate clap
Really, teaching kids how to clap?? What a waste of time!!!!

Rule #6
If you are asked a question in conversation, you should ask a
question in return.
Why is this a rule?

Rule 9
"Always say thank you when I give you something. If you do
not say it within 3 seconds after receiving the item, I will take it
back. There is no excuse for not showing appreciation."

Really, take it away at second #4? What if the kids is really excited and
says other words like wow, this is neat, or its not my birthday, etc.
Teaching kids to take things back isn't good.

Rule 12
"Occasionally we may grade each other's papers as a group.
When grading other students' papers, if you give someone an
incorrect grade, whether it is higher or lower than they
deserve, the amount the grade differs from the actual grade
will be deducted from your paper. The only marks you are
allowed to make on others' papers are an "X" and the number
they got incorrect."
Kids are NOT your little workers, are not teachers!
Grade your own papers but don't punish kids for mistakes!

Rule 13
"When we read together in class, you must follow along. If I
call on you to read, you must know exactly where we are and
begin to read immediately
Yes, be a robot.

Rule 14
"Answer all questions with a complete sentence. For
example, if the question asks, "What is the capital of Russia?"
you should respond by writing, "The capital of Russia is
Moscow." Also, in conversation with others, it is important to
use complete sentences out of respect for the person's
question. For example, if a person asks, "How are you?"
instead of just responding by saying, "Fine," you should say,
"I'm doing fine, thank you. How about yourself?"
What is this, game show rules? Again, robots...!

Rule 23
"Quickly learn the name of other teachers in the
school and greet them by saying things like, "Good
morning Mrs. Graham," or "Good afternoon Ms. Ortiz.
That is a very pretty dress." (Note: If you are in
line with the rest of class, you are not allowed to
speak to the teachers at that time because the
no-talking rule is in effect. You should speak to
other teachers if you are entering or leaving the
school, on recess, on an errand, or changing classes.)

Why should my child try to learn every teachers name who has
nothing to do with my child? Is a sentence and compliment
really needed? No, their not robots, their individuals, not
allowed to be themselves.

Rule 25
"We will often have visitors to our school. If someone is
coming to visit our class, I will send two students to the front
door of the building. You will have a sign welcoming the
person. When our visitor arrives, you will shake hands, tell
him or her who you are, and welcome the person to our
school. You will then take the visitor on a small tour of the
building before bringing him or her to the classroom."

Kids responsibility to give tours??? Make signs, shake hands??
Let the teachers or admin give tours, kids should be in the classroom, gym
or recess, not worried about visitors except for being nice.

Rule 29!
Well, its actually 26 Rules! on how to eat! Ridiculous!
Not 6 or 7 rules on eating but 26!
The correct way to eat corn on the cob, butter your bread:
4. Bread (Always tear off a bite-sized piece to eat. If you
are going to use butter, never butter the whole piece of bread;
butter the piece you tore off, and eat that before tearing
another piece.)
5. Corn on the cob (It is appropriate to eat across instead
of eating around.)
W. Make a point to remember the waiter's name when he
introduces himself to you. Use his name as often as possible
throughout the course of the meal.
Why should a 9 year old have to remember a waiters name???
These moronic rules are being read to an ENTIRE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL!

Rule 32
"When we ride on a bus, we will always sit facing forward. We
will never turn around to talk to other students, stick anything
out of the windows, or get out of our seats. When we exit the
bus, we will always thank the bus driver and tell him to have a
good day."
Always sit facing forward??? Don't talk to someone behind you??
Yes, Bobby sit there looking forward in your robotic state. Ridiculous.

I will let you read the rest. Please don't support turning kids into
mindless robots that worry about rules constantly, will just be more kids
put on unneeded ADHD drugs, turning them into zombies or even killers, as
99.9% of kids that shootup schools, theatres, etc. are on mind altering drugs,
thats another issue.
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on July 4, 2014
I really enjoyed this book, and feel that it had a lot to offer. However, I do think it is better suited to elementary school teachers. I read this book as a college student for a class, and in college I was in a 4th-8th grade "middle school" program. I now teach 7th grade and thought I'd implement many of Ron Clark's rules with my own students. I wasn't as successful with it as I'd hoped and feel that I would have been if I taught the same kids all day opposed to 6 different groups of 25-30 kids in 45 minute sessions. Anyway... It is a great book regardless, and I'm glad I "had" to read it.
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on February 7, 2014
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on October 26, 2013
This was a very good book with lots of relevant advise. Ron Clark is a immense asset in the teaching profession.

The kindle version of the book however can be distracting with a large amount of unintentionally merged words.
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on May 22, 2008
After reading all of your reviews of this book, I have to give my own opinion. I read this book like I read the Bible. This is a book that contains a lot of good ideas and many stories that you can use to apply to your own lives and your own classrooms. I do not believe that you are supposed to take every single one of these rules verbatim. Each of the 55 rules applies to Ron Clarke's classroom and how he teaches. There are many different ideas of what it means to be a good teacher. Just because Disney says that he is one of the best teachers in American does not mean that his rules or opinions easily apply to you. What I, being an educator, believe is that you should take Ron Clark's opinions on teaching and apply them to your own teaching style as best as you see fit. Use his rules to help you teach your classroom and nothing more. If you do not agree with one of his ideas, then good for you. You have a working brain and are able to sift through what you believe to be helpful information and what is just someone's opinion. Remember, there are as many ways to teach as there are colors in the rainbow. There is no one specific teaching method that is right. Take it for however you will and hopefully you will be a better educator for it.
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on May 6, 2011
I understand that we are all different, but my mind just can't grasp this guy. He dances around like he has ants in his pants and calls it teaching. I find it highly embarrassing to even witness someone wiggling around like that in front of an audience, and would only ever feel like laughing or participating out of sheer pity for the guy. It is an insult to the idea of education that he has to turn academic content into a flamboyant feely-fest. I was always more concerned with actual learning than with dancing around like a buffoon. And 55 "essential" rules? How incredibly arbitrary. 99.9999 percent of teachers in this world are not nearly overzealous enough to adopt this insane system.
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on August 4, 2003
The Essential 55 provides a strong foundation of extrinsic motivation and coercion techniques that will bring young students into complience with societies behavioral exepectations. It fails to provide any techniques for "discovering the successful student in every child". This book teaches educators to structure their management in such a way as to conform student behavior to the goal of becoming proper citizen. (The type of child that would make a grandmother proud) While a class in compliance with these rules is likely an orderly class, which would impress onlookers, the purpose of education is sidestepped. As educators we seek to foster an atmosphere where students are intrinsically motivated to work to their fullest potential. This is done through choice- response thinking that builds personal responsibility, not conformity to adult etiquette and authority through punishment and reward strategies (p181). If a long-term effective management strategy that allows students to concentrate on the academics and build student responsibility is your goal, I suggest purchasing instead Discipline Without Stress Punishments or Rewards by Dr. Marvin Marshall.
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on February 2, 2014
I bought this book because I often I know there are rules that need to be kept by my own children but I do not know how to articulate them or clarify them for enforcement. Ron Clark shares how to do that and I love the creativity and genuine commitment to learning and right living that permeates this book. I look forward to getting the workbook and re-inculcating the values, behaviors and standards into the fabric of all of our lives.
Thank you Ron for being an example of commitment, dedication, creativity and belief in the inherent potential and goodness that lies within us all.
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on March 1, 2015
I have used this book for so many things - as a teacher, as a principal and as a Mentor. I have given it to friends who are teachers as well. I use parts of the book to develop "manners curriculum" for different educational venues. A great source book/reference book.
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