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Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child Hardcover – November 5, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

Extinguishing the minds (and souls) of our children in ten easy steps

 Play dates, soccer practice, day care, political correctness, drudgery without facts, television, video games, constant supervision, endless distractions: these and other insidious trends in child rearing and education are now the hallmarks of childhood. As author Anthony Esolen demonstrates in this elegantly written, often wickedly funny book, almost everything we are doing to children now constricts their imaginations, usually to serve the ulterior motives of the constrictors.
Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Childtakes square aim at these accelerating trends, in a bitingly witty style reminiscent of C. S. Lewis, while offering parents—and children—hopeful alternatives. Esolen shows how imagination is snuffed out at practically every turn: in the rearing of children almost exclusively indoors; in the flattening of love to sex education, and sex education to prurience and hygiene; in the loss of traditional childhood games; in the refusal to allow children to organize themselves into teams; in the effacing of the glorious differences between the sexes; in the dismissal of the power of memory, which creates the worst of all possible worlds in school—drudgery without even the merit of imparting facts; in the strict separation of the child’s world from the adult’s; and in the denial of the transcendent, which places a low ceiling on the child’s developing spirit and mind.
But Esolen doesn’t stop at pointing out the problem; he offers clear solutions as well. With charming stories from his own boyhood and an assist from the master authors and thinkers of the Western tradition, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child is a welcome respite from the overwhelming banality of contemporary culture. Interwoven throughout this indispensable guide to child rearing is a rich tapestry of the literature, music, art, and thought that once enriched the lives of American children.
Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child confronts contemporary trends in parenting and schooling by reclaiming lost traditions. This practical, insightful book is essential reading for any parent who cares about the paltry thing that childhood has become, and who wants to give a child something beyond the dull drone of today’s culture.


About the Author

Anthony Esolen is the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization and Ironies of Faith, and the translator and editor of the celebrated three-volume Modern Library edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy. He is a professor of English at Providence College and a senior editor of Touchstone magazine. Esolen lives in Rhode Island.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute; 1st Edition edition (November 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935191888
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935191889
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #298,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was definitely "destroyed" as a child going through the education system during the 70's and 80's. Those were transitional decades from the "old-fashioned" way of teaching to the new, enlightened, "better" teaching methods. I began to realize the impact later in life when I noticed that most high-school educated people my parent's and grandparent's age wrote in a story-like manner, recited poetry, spoke more sophisticated, spoke at least basic Latin, and cited historical facts better than I or most of my college educated friends.

In a witty, sarcastic way, Esolen has revealed the chasm between the way kids in the past were educated and raised versus today. This book is a must read for any parent who is noticing that their children are not being taught the way we were taught (even those of us in the start of the dumbing down decades had to learn multiplication tables) or is questioning why computers are teaching the kids versus teachers or why diversity (ethnic background and sexual) and the environment seems to be more the emphasis than reading, writing, grammar, poetry, math, history, or science.

It is also a must read for those looking to counter the narcissistic self-esteem push on their children or the Orwellian PC culture of today.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anthony Esolen's latest book talks about about ten of the ways in which our schools and lifestyle deprive our children of the opportunity to develop imagination and self-reliance. In his usual witty, insightful manner he points out the many ways in which we as a society have shut children up, and although we pay lip-service to the importance of socialisation our decisions mean that this only consists in playing alongside others with constant supervision by adults, and this leaves us with children whose only recourse in conflict is an appeal to authority.
I highly recommend this book to prospective parents, parents, teachers and school administrators and hope that it will make us all re-think the impact of our society on a child's imagination.
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Format: Hardcover
Amazon wrote:

"We're extinguishing the minds (and souls) of our children. Play dates, 'helicopter parenting', No Child Left Behind, video games, political correctness: these and other insidious trends in child rearing and education are now the hallmarks of childhood."

An author friend of mine sent 'ten ways to destroy the imagination of your child' to me for Christmas because he said. "My wife had been reading Tony Esolen's book for a couple of weeks, and she loves it. One morning I went down to find her laughing out loud, and she said, 'Go order one of these for Terry Fenwick.' So I did."

I laughed at the comments on the book cover BEFORE I opened the book!!!

Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy, Boston College, wrote: "This book made me want to jump up (very high) and cheer, or run around (very far) and shout warnings. The best way I can think of to save Western culture, next to everyone deciding to become saints, would be for all educators to take this uncommonly commonsensical book to heart. A worthy Successor to C. S. Lewis's the Abolition of Man."

Alice von Hilderbrand wrote: "A great book that should be in the hands of any educator worthy of this title -- that is someone conscious of his awesome task to help chisel a child's soul and open his eyes to what is true, good, and beautiful. A sheer pleasure."

Michael Medved, Father Dwight Longenecker and Robert Royal have the same great praise for "ten ways" - check the back cover and you will find my title "First You Wring the Chicken's Neck" on page 79 - Keep Children Away from Machines and Machinists.

I am 77+ and I like the book - my children are raised and they have raised most of theirs by now but . . . life goes on and this book might make a big difference in the lives of many of your own family! Happy Reading and Happy New Year.
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Format: Hardcover
If you are at all concerned about what modern society is doing to our children this book is a must-read. Have no fear, however. It's not a scaremongering "the-sky-is-falling!" alarmist piece with lots of exclamation points but no substance, and neither is it a dry sociological work with lots of charts and statistics of dubious applicability. It is, in fact, a smart, wise, witty, and quite entertaining look at what's happening with modern childhood and what can be done about it.

Essentially, Esolen believes that childhood has become a mere shell of its former self due to trends in education and parenting that stifle the imagination and creativity which are naturally present in it. Using examples from history, literature, and even his own childhood, he shows the blithering wrongheadedness of many of these trends, and how they can be resisted and reversed. He does this with wondrous (and often scathing) wit in a style reminiscent of 'The Screwtape Letters', by adopting the voice of a child education expert who's writing to show parents and teachers exactly how to ruin a kid's imagination, in order to make them good little obedient citizens and consumers. The lesson for us "real" readers is, of course, "Go thou and do the opposite."

I'm approximately the same age as Dr. Esolen so there are many points of contact between my childhood and the things he writes about his. In looking at childhood today, some 40 years on, I am sad for the miserable, joyless thing it often seems to have become. My own daughter is in her late teens now, well past the age where she "needs" the wisdom from this book, at least as far as her own childhood is concerned. Still, I can't help thinking that a book like this would have been a great thing to have had 15 years ago. Although you couldn't then, you can now. Take advantage of it, and be wonderfully entertained in the process.
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