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Wasting Minds: Why Our Education System Is Failing and What We Can Do About It 28565th Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1416611318
ISBN-10: 1416611312
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Ron Wolk's Wasting Minds passionately challenges basic assumptions about U.S. schooling and school reform. His spare and unyielding prose carries his argument and the reader rapidly through this important book. You may not agree with Wolk's conclusions, but you won't waste your mind when you read this one. --Marshall Smith, Senior Counselor to the U.S. Secretary of Education, Under Secretary for Education in the Clinton Administration, and Dean of Stanford University's School of Education

Wasting Minds offers a smart and tightly reasoned critique of the educational status quo. But instead of leaving us with mere diagnosis, Ron Wolk offers a wise and compelling set of remedies. Writing with an idealist's heart and a pragmatist's spine, he shows how to build an education system centered on students and true to the ideals of freedom, rigor, and fairness. --Daniel H. Pink, New York Times best-selling author of A Whole New Mind and Drive

Wasting Minds is an elegant balance of insight, provocation, vision, and practicality that make it a must-read for anyone interested in meeting one of the great challenges of our times: helping educational change keep up with the changes and new demands of our world today. Ron Wolk takes accurate aim at the current, narrow efforts to reform education, without blaming all those working hard to move education forward. --Nicholas C. Donohue, President and CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and former Commissioner of Education for the state of New Hampshire

From the Inside Flap

Why has successful school reform been so difficult to achieve, despite decades of well-intentioned efforts, endless rhetoric, and billions of dollars of investment? Why do most U.S. schools continue to produce disappointing results? Why is there such a disconnect between the schools we need and the schools we have?

In this thoughtful and insightful book, Ronald A. Wolk tackles these questions head-on, identifying key assumptions that have shaped the debate on school reform for the past several decades, including the emphasis on standards and testing, calls for a longer school day and year, the push to enroll more students in advanced math classes, and the quest to place a highly qualified teacher in every classroom. Backed by research and other evidence, he points out the flaws in each assumption, and then proposes alternative assumptions as the basis for new, innovative schools that would emphasize such elements as

* Individualized instruction, with various pathways for learning;

* Real-world contexts for learning;

* Performance assessment;

* A restructuring of public education to expand preschool; and

* Transformation of the teachers' role from instructor to advisor.

Acknowledging that the current system is too entrenched to accept radical reform, Wolk suggests incorporating his assumptions into a separate, parallel strategy for new schools. The result is a provocative proposal for teachers, administrators, policymakers, parents, and others to consider as they contemplate the future of public education in the United States.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 199 pages
  • Publisher: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development; 28565th edition (February 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416611312
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416611318
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,129,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Wayne B. Jennings on April 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In Wasting Minds Ronald Wolk, founder and former publisher of Education Week, applies his analytic and observational skills to find that current remedies for improving education won't work sufficiently. Better teachers, better principles, more algebra, testing and standards will only marginally improve an obsolete system. He systematically shows that the current schooling model cannot produce modern outcomes such as responsible citizens, productive workers and lifelong learners for all students or even for most students. He suggests new types of schools and offers examples of their effectiveness. He does not demonize the good people working in today's schools. They are doing their best in an outmoded system. This very readable book is a persuasive source for school transformers.
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This was one of the best books I've read on the current educational system with suggestions for working toward a more sensible school system. I'd love to have dinner with Mr. Wolk and discuss further on how we can get administrators and school boards to listen to what he is saying. A nurturing, individualized education is what we need for all students. Period. Testing, meeting unrealistic goals with standardized tests only make it easier for administrators, not students.

I was blown away when he asked why should every student take algebra or advanced math subjects? I was a state coordinator for alternative education for six years and have over 30 years in education. Our goal was always to heal, nurture, and teach what would benefit and interest the student most. Charter and Magnet Schools, although public schools, are so popular because students can be in a smaller setting and focus their learning more than at a regular public school. Every student in every school should have a mentor to counsel and cheer them on with their own goals.

How sad that Ronald Wolk is not the country's Secretary of Education. Our schools need his kind of common sense and vision. Thank you for a great book! It got me excited about education once more.
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You would have thought it was the latest thriller; I stayed up all night to get it finished. Actually, it is a thriller -- frank, practical, and - in many ways - scary. Ron Wolk makes it very clear how we are wasting minds, dollars, and energy and may be continuing on that path with national core standards unless enough people speak out and embrace the powerful parallel strategy he so passionately describes in the second half of the book. As he makes clear, there are things we can do about it with the funds and the people we have. The question is, WILL we?
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This book challenges all the traditional assumptions about the American education system. I can see education reformers reading this, but really more parents should read it so that they can become better-informed "consumers" of education services.
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One of the most thoughtful books on American education. Puts forth a sensible course to better schools and better learning.
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