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You Are Not Special: … And Other Encouragements Hardcover – April 22, 2014
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“…a success. May its salvos ring from Cambridge and Arlington to the hinterlands of Wellesley, Weston, and Way-wayland. You Are Not Special is also big-hearted - and clearly forged in a hearth of caring, doubt, and fear. Aphorisms could be lifted from every page and blossom into memes.” (Boston Globe)
“... McCullough scores an A+ with this volume for teens and parents. Rich in literary references and poetic in cadence, the author ... offers plenty of hilarious and pointed comments on teens and today’s society. ” (Publishers Weekly (Starred Review))
“Despite the somewhat disparaging tone of the title, McCullough’s graduation book is anything but a downer. The high school English teacher ...expands on his viral commencement address with words of encouragement: Do what you love, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and remember-we’re all in the same boat.” (Bookpage)
“…to open You Are Not Special…and Other Encouragements is to enter a deeply intellectual and thought-out analysis of the forces that shape modern teenage life, both at home and in the classroom. . . Even if you didn’t agree with McCullough’s speech, this is essential reading.” (The Swellesley Report)
“The author tackles big issues ... with searching sincerity, open-heartedness, and a deft, light touch.” (Kirkus (Starred Review))
“Every once in a long while, a voice seems to come out of nowhere, and you wonder how you ever managed without [it]. David McCullough, Jr. has that startling, insightful, wry, reassuring, helpful voice and You Are Not Special may be the wisest ‘parenting’ book I’ve read in decades.” (Madeline Levine, author of author of The Price of Privilege and Teach Your Children Well)
“A clear-eyed but affectionate polemic urging kids to stop trying to be perfect and to take chances, even at the risk of failing. A profound celebration of the life well lived.” (Clayton Christensen, author of How Will You Measure Your Life?)
About the Author
David McCullough, Jr. taught for sixteen years at Punahou School in Honolulu and has been teaching at Wellesley High School near Boston since 2002. He lives with his wife and four children in Sudbury, Massachusetts.
Top Customer Reviews
My favorite parts of the book dealt with the gaming of the system that goes on in the college admissions process. From massaging your GPA, to trying to outsmart the SAT, to hiring admissions "advisors," every point he made rang true. How often will a student take a class from an "easy" teacher rather than challenging him- or herself with the chance to actually learn something from a more demanding teacher? Unfortunately, the answer is, nearly every time. How often will a parent complain if a child gets less than an A in a college prep class? Unfortunately, too often. Students take five AP classes (I remember a time when our high school limited students to two) and wonder why they are not getting A+ in each of them. They join clubs or teams to improve their resume for college admissions officers, not because of any real interest. It is obvious that parents and students alike are pursuing short range gains at the expense of their child's long term best interests, but once you are in the fray of college admissions, it is as if you have lost your sanity.Read more ›
He speaks openly and eloquently about the intense pressure on students for grades, and the extent to which kids are pushed to think more about getting into college tomorrow than about enjoying learning today. His empathy for students as well as parents shines through much of the time.
I found his descriptions of his own teaching so appealing.
"Studying Herman Melville - or, rather, dipping a toe into the great tossing sea of Herman Melville...matters not in the grades a high school student might achieve...nor the college or career toward which it will move him closer. It matters in his excitement at discovering what's there...for the holy-mackerel-would-you-please-take-a-look-at-this moments available to anyone willing to observe and to think about what he sees. When enthusiasm builds into wildfire, it's all pure joy; intellectual growth, information, skills honing and shiny grades will surely follow...What begins in delight, said Robert Frost, ends in wisdom."
I find this kind of thinking irresistible, and was therefore glued to this book from beginning to end.Read more ›
So this book reads like a series of really good and honest lectures from the English teacher that the kids like because he is not only smart, but authentic and grounded.
McCullough's writing style is vigorous and free-wheeling. It just pops with energy and vitality; not at all dry and professorial. This is an entertaining and thoughtful read; I'll be recommending it to my fellow English teachers but it's a great book for anybody.
David McCullough Jr's graduation speech has been more thoroughly explored in this book. I would think many educators will embrace this book and the concept behind it. It has to be amazingly difficult to deal with parents and kids who expect nothing but straight A's and blame the teacher when it doesn't happen. All parents should be required to read this book to get a better understanding of how the 'you're special" praise does not lead to a good outcome.
I recommend this book highly, for educators and parents alike.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Should be required reading for every teacher, student, parent, and human being!
Each chapter is a stand-alone essay on a particular aspect of life, so it can be put down... Read more
Don't waste your money on this. I got through 7% on my Kindle and gave up. I do have to give the author credit, though. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
I'm not sure what all the media hoopla was about concerning this book. I'm also not sure the speech needed to be made into an entire book.Published 5 months ago by Fred M. Jeffers
This is a very poignant message to our youngsters and to their parents.
It truly gets to the heart of the matter.
I usually don't rate books, but this one IS SPECIAL. It is filled with several decades of wisdom by and
English teacher at two elite high schools, and the son of David... Read more
The author frankly seems to be furious all the time - there is only void argumentation, which falls apart without the use of data. Read morePublished 9 months ago by rshimoda
If you suspect this is a blatant attempt to capitalize on the viral nature of the speech by the famous historian's son, you'd get no argument from me. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Carolyn Kost