BEYOND THE CLASSROOM by Laurence Steinberg


Why School Reform Has Failed and What Parents Need to Do
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 A forceful analysis of the declining achievement of American students, coupled with sensible suggestions to reverse the decline. Based on research questionnaires and interviews conducted over a 10-year period with a cross-section of more than 20,000 teenagers from nine high schools, Steinberg (Developmental Psychology/Temple Univ.; Crossing Paths, 1994) contends that school reforms of the past 15 years have not accomplished anything: Today's high school graduates, he writes, are among the ``least intellectually competent in the industrialized world.'' Steinberg claims that they know less and can do less than their counterparts did 25 years ago. The majority don't strive for success, he adds; they are content to coast. The average student is ``disengaged'' from the educational process. Viewing school as a ``nuisance,'' students place it at the bottom of their list of priorities, and while physically present, they don't pay attention or work at their studies. Their social lives seem to matter far more than their education. Steinberg convincingly attributes the weakness of American students to factors outside the classroom. Among these are: parents who have little interest in their children's education; a peer culture that ``demeans academic success and scorns students who try to do well in school''; and a schedule that allows students to devote an excessive amount of time to vacuous social activities. Changing students' and parents' attitudes and behavior is vital, the author asserts, offering a series of proposals intended to make schooling the primary activity of childhood and adolescence. Striving for educational excellence, Steinberg asserts, must begin to take priority over socializing and participation in organized sports. All four-year colleges must begin to tighten their admission standards so that students are forced to take school more seriously. Steinberg and his colleagues clearly advances the current debate surrounding education. Well-researched and provocative, Beyond the Classroom is likely to challenge the assumptions of many of its readers. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-684-80008-X
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1996


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