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Doing School Hardcover – October 1, 2001

4.1 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

By and large, the recent focus on American education has been on the shortcomings of our worst schools. Pope, a lecturer at the Stanford University School of Education, zeroes in on a well-regarded California public high school and explores "the educational experience" from the students' points of view. Her year-long shadowing of five intelligent, motivated students from diverse backgrounds raises the troubling proposition that even our best schools may be misserving our best students, and reveals the ambiguous nature of our successes. Devoting a detailed chapter to the school lives of each student, Pope asks two important questions: "What exactly is being learned in high schools like Faircrest? And at what costs?" The answers are dismaying. Students learn that getting A's is of supreme importance, and that it is sometimes more advantageous to be "system savvy" than it is to actually learn the material. Still, Pope's five subjects work hard at grueling routines, sacrificing sleep and social lives to the desire to succeed. The costs of their achievements, she suggests, are "severe anxiety or breakdowns," "persistent health or sleep problems" and ethical compromise in the conflict between these students' ideals and values and the grade-grubbing, self-serving alliances with adult advocates and (usually subtle) cheating they deem necessary to success. A scholarly study presented with great clarity and enlivened by vignettes of student life, this work provides a fresh perspective on the state of American education, and yet another reason to press for systematic reform.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In this important and timely study, Pope, a veteran teacher, curriculum expert, and lecturer at the Stanford University School of Education, offers a revealing look at the quandaries of today's high school students. The book is based on Pope's yearlong research, which consisted of shadowing and interviewing five successful students of diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds at a highly regarded California public high school. Pope adroitly takes the students' point of view and finds that they are frustrated by being caught in a "grade trap"; often stressed out, exhausted, and anxious, they are resentful that their future success is dependent on their GPA and test scores. These and similar findings raise critical questions for concerned parents, educators, and policy makers involved in all levels of education, making this an essential purchase for high school, college, and university libraries and one strongly recommended for public libraries where interest in education is strong. Samuel T. Huang, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300090137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300090130
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #771,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was browsing through my library's High School/College section and in it I spotted the interesting title and design of the book. I decided to check it out and read it and within reading the first 2 pages I was completely immersed in it. This book is AMAZING. It really gives you a glimpse into these 5 students lives and ALL they have to do and put up with. Its also written very well, the writing is very effective.

The thing is I'm in 8th grade, going to be a freshman next year, and ALREADY I can see these things start to happen. I already see the start and/or development of the tactics that the 5 students do to "survive" in school, the cheating, the copying, and the plagiarism among others. And another thing, like this is really worrisome for me, I mean I can already see myself as an "Eve" clone, studying all the time, having ZERO life, in order to get into an Ivy. But is there ANY other option but to do these things? I don't believe so. It seems like if students don't do all these things they WON'T "succeed" grade-wise in high school and then WON'T get into a good college, won't get high paying jobs and be successful, what kids like the ones described (and I) want to get. It seems like its the only choice. And what are people going to do about it? NOTHING. It would take forever to reform all of our high schools and middle schools and odds are it wouldn't succeed. So are we pretty much just STUCK where we are? Really seems like it, and its pretty bad. I WANT to be engaged in learning and all of those things, but by the look of it, it seems like that won't happen in high school. You never know though, right?

Anyways, this is an EXCEPTIONAL book and everyone should read it (especially anyone with an education related occupation, such as a teacher).
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By Rachel on November 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
When I found this book on the bookshelf at the library, I couldn't believe my eyes. A book about how I feel. These 5 kids are so similar to myself and my friends at school. Most of my student body sees me or my friends as those kids who are going to be going to UCLA, UCSD, Stanford, or an Ivy League. It's a lot of pressure on all of us. If I get anything under a 90% on some test, everyone makes such a big deal, and the putdowns don't help any either.
I am one of those kids who doesn't get much more than 5 hours of sleep on a good day , without all the homework to worry about. On a bad day, with lots of homework, I might end up staying up until 3 or 4 in the morning, then having to wake up for school at 6. I haven't done an all-nighter, but I've had friends who've had 2 all-nighters in one week, and she was on the verge of going crazy from lack of sleep. Weekends are the only time I can catch up on sleep, but I can't sleep in because of all the homework that I'd put off during the week that I'd have to finish on the weekends.
I don't relate to just one of the 5 kids, but certain traits are similar to mine, like when Eve talks about how her friendships with people are strained because they are all competing for the same grade. Same with when Kevin brushes off a "B+" as no big deal, but really wanting that "A", I totally understand where he's coming from, because that's how I am.
I think that this is a book that everyone should read, whether or not you want to believe it, since what is there is true for a lot of kids, and maybe if it is known that all the pressure on us really takes a toll on our lives, then maybe this pressure with be lifted.
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Format: Paperback
The book centers on five students that the author shadowed during a year of high school. The students attended a high school where 95% of its graduates attend college. Now most teachers of "lesser schools" (like my own that sends 2% to college) will echo Pope's colleague's comment that "I wish my students had some of those problems" but I do think that all schools possess students who are stressed-out even if they are flunking. The students in this book were forced to cheat, act different, etc. in the pursuit of high grades. The author mainly addresses the "force" as coming from the inadequately structured school system, family, and in the end, America itself. I was looking for some insight from students regarding how school can be better. A few of the students had some respectable suggestions such as fostering student engagement by allowing students to pursue topics that actually interested them and connected to other courses as well. But combine that suggestion with the one that espouses the need for getting rid of letter grades and you have a book that works only half the time. While I too would love to eliminate grades (much like art teacher Mr. Freeman in the novel Speak) we need to have some written measure of how well the students meet their goal or demonstrate mastery. And while I agree that the school system is not a place that fosters learning (ironically), I agree with Pope that much more than just the schools need to be changed: America's own stressed out, materialistic, and miseducated culture needs to change. Maybe if that changed America would have fewer schools that had such high apathy and low college attendance rates.
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