Real Education

Real Education

Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality

eBook - 2008
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With four simple truths as his framework, Charles Murray, the bestselling coauthor of The Bell Curve , sweeps away the hypocrisy, wishful thinking, and upside-down priorities that grip America's educational establishment.

Ability varies. Children differ in their ability to learn academic material. Doing our best for every child requires, above all else, that we embrace that simplest of truths. America's educational system does its best to ignore it.

Half of the children are below average. Many children cannot learn more than rudimentary reading and math. Real Education reviews what we know about the limits of what schools can do and the results of four decades of policies that require schools to divert huge resources to unattainable goals.

Too many people are going to college. Almost everyone should get training beyond high school, but the number of students who want, need, or can profit from four years of residential education at the college level is a fraction of the number of young people who are struggling to get a degree. We have set up a standard known as the BA, stripped it of its traditional content, and made it an artificial job qualification. Then we stigmatize everyone who doesn't get one. For most of America's young people, today's college system is a punishing anachronism.

America's future depends on how we educate the academically gifted. An elite already runs the country, whether we like it or not. Since everything we watch, hear, and read is produced by that elite, and since every business and government department is run by that elite, it is time to start thinking about the kind of education needed by the young people who will run the country. The task is not to give them more advanced technical training, but to give them an education that will make them into wiser adults; not to pamper them, but to hold their feet to the fire.

The good news is that change is not only possible but already happening. Real Education describes the technological and economic trends that are creating options for parents who want the right education for their children, teachers who want to be free to teach again, and young people who want to find something they love doing and learn how to do it well. These are the people for whom Real Education was written. It is they, not the politicians or the educational establishment, who will bring American schools back to reality.

Twenty-four years ago, Charles Murray's Losing Ground changed the way the nation thought about welfare. Real Education is about to do the same thing for America's schools.

From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: New York : Crown Forum, c2008
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780307449368
Characteristics: 219 p. :,ill. ;,22 cm


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Jul 12, 2017

Seminal Book on "Real Education"

May 08, 2013

My immediate impression of Charles Murray's Real Education is that he's right, but in that blunt way one is by pointing out the elephant in the room. America's educational system is tangled with so much more than the business of learning that Murray's assessment will come across as hostile, and he'll be ignored or ostracized. And this leads to my second impression, which is how much educational romanticism is infused with the American identity. This has been the case for over a hundred years and it might be impossible to change.

As stated in the introduction, this book is about four simple truths of education: (1) Ability varies, (2) Half of the children are below average, (3) Too many are going to college, and (4) America's future depends on how we educate the academically gifted. It's also implied that these truths are ignored or forgotten. You'll find some condescension in the author’s tone throughout, but nothing to suggest he's intentionally trying to be provocative. Murray is merely calling it like he sees it, and then backing up his claims with evidence.

This is my second Charles Murray book after reading Coming Apart last year. Count me as a new fan.

sgnorman Jun 15, 2012

This is a thorough expose of the public educational system and the reasons why our country is beleaguered with suffering schools. IT IS VERY DISTURBING AND AGGRIVATING. Several times I had to put it down in the middle of a chapter just to get myself composed before going further. In the end, it was worth it because the author is shooting straight and the message needs to be heard.

Jun 07, 2012

I did not enjoy this book as much as I was expecting when I picked it up from the library. In this book, Real Education, I felt the assumptions that Murray made at the beginning of the book were incorrect and borderline classist. Without stressing the point that the potential in a student could happen regardless of socio-economic boundaries, I fear that the arguments presented in this book will further perpetuate the inequality these at-risk students already face. Why present more arguments against these students when what they really need is more advocacy?

Murray claims that we need to focus our education on the students at the top of the Intellectual bell-curve, however I wonder if these students already have the resources they need to excel in private education. Are these students at the top of the bell curve also the students in the top socio-economic bracket? If this is the case, I feel the question we should be asking ourselves is how do we intervene in a child's life sooner, birth to 3 years, to give them similar opportunities as the top bell curve students? Should we focus on changing policies to make an education system better for the 1% that is going to excel, regardless, or policies that bring resources to the bottom 1% to students who are already fighting an uphill battle?

Regardless, I am still looking forward to reading Murray's new book, Coming Apart, because I hear that he sticks to presentation the facts rather than solutions to the problems our current country is facing. I would have liked Real Education to follow the same model so it could be used as a starting point among educators, policy makers and families to discuss the way our education and social system could/should/will change.

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