Thursday, December 18, 2008

50 Rules Kids Won't Learn in School (review)

Bel0w is one of my recent reviews of Charles Sykes recent book, "50 Rules Kids Won't Learn in School: Real-World Antidotes to Feel-Good Education" [


I work as a high-school special educator and, as such, I can attest to two things: that the advice offered in these pages is GREAT for teenagers, and that they certianly WILL NOT learn it in school! Today's youth grows up an in an "entitlement" world where the prevailing view of self-esteem is "feeling good for no good reason," rather than "earning the right to feel good." They grow up in a fantastical world where they can have instant satisfaction without going though the rigors of hard work that NO ONE is telling them is fantastical. Except for Charles Sykes.

While this book is a collection of maxims such as "Life is not fair. Get used to it," followed by several-page elaborations, the themes of this book can be summed up thusly: live modestly, accept that hard work needs to be put in to get anything out, and live with the knowledge that to get ahead in anything, you have to earn it. Sykes writes in simple and direct language that, while likely meant for adults to read, the average high-schooler could easily absorb.

To be honest, I would love to use this with some of my classes, discussing with them such ideas as "You're not going to the NBS, so hold off on the bling and spare us the attitude," or "You are not immortal" (just two of the mythes prevalent with the high-school crowd that this book so correctly corrects). Students need to hear it, and teachers (and parents) need to say it. I doubt, though, that I would be able to get very far with some of them ("Looking like a slut does not empower you," and "No, you cannot be everything you dream," may get me in trouble with parents.)

Even so, it doesn't mean that YOU can't teach YOUR kids this stuff, and I highly reccomend that you do. If you don't, they certainly aren't going to learn it somewhere like school!

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