An education writer explores what's wrong with the ways in which our children are being taught to write and think, and offers up advice to two quite separate, albeit vitally connected, groups: teachers and parents. Starting off with a confident, convincing analysis of the skewed testing methods schools employ and the limited, mechanical learning strategies they reward, Silberman then launches into an appeal to what she considers the most well-equipped population for necessitating change--teachers. Tips for fostering a supportive atmosphere that allows for the risk-taking that is at the center of significant, child-powered learning include: becoming involved in seminars like those offered by the National Writing Project; emphasizing writing as a process; maintaining high sensitivity and reactivity to student work and ideas; trying out alternative test methods; and curbing the knee-jerk tendency toward niggling corrections and tunnel-visioned judgments that quickly deflate a child's natural enthusiasm for written expression. Since writing is not an isolated technical skill but a major medium for learning, new techniques that use writing to teach across the curriculum are listed, including applications for both science and mathematics. Although Silberman's repetitive and often vague praise for various teaching mavericks across the country gets tiresome, she does cite a refreshing range of individual achievements. Briefly, she finally turns to the plight of parents, and presents ways by which they can encourage their children to eagerly participate in meaningful written communication (e.g., talking to children as often as possible without editing out adult vocabulary; exploring areas in which a child shows interest; sharing written exchanges; and maintaining interest in a child's written and oral expression long after the technical hurdles of both are mastered). Sound, sensible advice of often repetitious, dispassionate, and confusingly directed) concerning what writing at its best can provide, and how to provide it.