It's documented fact—the children of today learn differently than the children of two or three generations ago. That is, if they learn at all. Increasingly, students are shuttled through years of institutionalized education with very little to show for it besides Ritalin prescriptions and an inability to think clearly or perform well on standardized tests.
Does this mean the brains of today's kids are different from the brains of yesterday's children? That's what Dr. Jane Healy wanted to find out, and what eventually led to the publication of her immense and fascinating Endangered Minds: Why Children Don't Think—and What We Can Do About It.
Healy leads us over the mountain of research, statistics, observations, and ideas she climbed while writing this book. The result is a cross between an immense scholarly achievement and an intellectual mystery story. It would have been easy to make this a very dry experience, but Healy endows her work with humor, personal stories, and fascinating facts that take the edge off.
That's not to say you should read this while drowsing in your easy chair. Endangered Minds will require your full attention as Healy delves into neuroscience, psychology, educational philosophy, and learning theory. But paying attention is just the point—children today aren't learning as they should because their ability to focus has been short-circuited by too much TV, video games, etc.
But there are other factors, like poor environments at home and school, not enough emotional stability from those in authority, not enough physical activity, bad parental example-setting, and the list goes on. Healy goes to great lengths to demonstrate how nurture affects kids's brains physically, and demands both parents and educators take note.
One of the main reasons children today learn differently (and for the most part more poorly) than previous generations is the way they acquire language knowledge and skills. With truncated speech, little to no personal reading time, poor adult examples, etc., kids no longer have a firm grasp of the main building block toward the ability to learn, think critically, and develop.
Endangered Minds is a long, dense book. Many readers will probably find it simply confirms their worst fears, while others will find wholly new ideas. Everyone will have a strong opinion about what Healy writes. She ends with several chapters looking to the future, and while these are helpful, the simple fact that she brings to light the true nature of child neural development makes this one of the most important books on education ever written.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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