This book is an expose of the problems that highly intelligent students have in school systems that do nothing to promote learning. Wait, let me rephrase that. There actually is lots of learning going on in schools amongst advanced students, but little of it has to do with learning for learning sake.
Denise Clark Pope did her research at “Faircrest” High School in the San Francisco Bay Area. The school motto? “Be punctual, prepared, tolerant, honest, respectful, responsible.” Sounds good, but what Pope discovered from months of hanging out with five of Faircrest’s best and brightest was that day in and day out school is only about one thing – your GPA.
The teens in Doing School are good kids. And yet they’re so entrenched in the game plan and what was expected of them that cheating became unavoidable and well, acceptable (AKA no big deal).
Clearly, with the intense competition and stress the students face, the temptation to cheat is strong. … most of the advanced students do not cheat in the way the students in other tracks do. Advanced students cheat by programming equations into their calculators, cutting classes the day of the exam to gain more studying time, and asking friends who took the exam earlier that day about specific material and questions.
—Denise Clark Pope
As one of the author’s stressed out, over-extended 11th graders said, “I’m a high school machine.” And so they learn to do whatever it takes to get the grades so that they can be accepted into an impressive college, continue gaming the system there so that eventually they get the ultimate reward for all their hoop jumping… the impressive career with the impressive salary and the guaranteed happy life.
But Doing School isn’t really about cheating. It’s about the sad and scary fact that the schools we’ve created for our young people do not keep curiosity alive and thus do not educate the next generation to be the problem-solvers this world so desperately needs.
More Recommended Parenting Books »