Doomed to Fail: The Built-in Defects of American Education

Doomed to Fail: The Built-in Defects of American Education

by Paul A. Zoch
     
 

Since hardly anyone is happy with American schools, it's always open season for school reform—with inevitable calls for better teaching, better curriculums, better organization, etc., etc. In these continuing exhortations, little attention is paid to the role of the students themselves, the object of the "learning process." In this explosive book, Paul Zoch

Overview

Since hardly anyone is happy with American schools, it's always open season for school reform—with inevitable calls for better teaching, better curriculums, better organization, etc., etc. In these continuing exhortations, little attention is paid to the role of the students themselves, the object of the "learning process." In this explosive book, Paul Zoch argues that what America most needs to improve its schools is not necessarily better teachers but a wholesale shift in the way it thinks about who or what creates academic success. The tendency to look to teachers for students' achievement, he maintains, is the cause of low performance. Tracing the development of educational ideas in the United States from the time of William James to the present day, Mr. Zoch shows how they have given the schools an obsessive focus on teachers and their teaching methods while neglecting the disciplined effort and hard work that students must expend in order to achieve. Because most students, in accordance with society's prevailing views, see their success as a product of what their teachers do, they devote little effort to their studies and, predictably enough, learn little. Their dedication to schoolwork, as Mr. Zoch demonstrates, falls far short of that routinely displayed by students in other, less prosperous countries. Doomed to Fail is one of the freshest and most compelling investigations of the plight of our schools to appear in many years. It is sure to create a beehive of controversy.

Editorial Reviews

Tampa Tribune
A student of the classics, Zoch delivers the ultimate anti-establishment, conservative critique of the state of education.
The Historian
Well-written and provocative.
— Victoria-Maria MacDonald
Choice
Recommended.
— R. J. Reynolds, Eastern Connecticut State University
National Retired Teachers Association Live and Learn
His book reminds us to expect more of students.
Education Next
A stunning critique.... Most of the book is a brilliant recapitulation of the history of American education... Engaging.
— Ravitch, Diane
School Reform News
Clearly, concisely, and convincingly lays out the reasons why...high school seniors score well below their peers in other countries.
— George A. Clowes George A. Clowes, Schoo
American Journal Of Education
Zoch presents...unacknowledged truths that ought to immediately become central to any national policy debate.
— Bruce Gans
CHOICE
Recommended.
— R. J. Reynolds, Eastern Connecticut State University
Education Next: Journal Of Opinion And Research
A stunning critique.... Most of the book is a brilliant recapitulation of the history of American education... Engaging.
— Diane Ravitch
Education Next: Journal Of Opinion And Research
A stunning critique.... Most of the book is a brilliant recapitulation of the history of American education... Engaging.
— Diane Ravitch
American Journal of Education
Zoch presents...unacknowledged truths that ought to immediately become central to any national policy debate.
— Bruce Gans
Diane Ravitch
A stunning critique.... Most of the book is a brilliant recapitulation of the history of American education... Engaging.
Gerald Graff
Arguing...in a rigorous and intellectually serious way, Paul A. Zoch's Doomed to Fail does much to restore student-centered education to the respectability it deserves.
William L. O'Neill
Paul Zoch's Doomed to Fail is one of the most important books on American education ever published.... I hope everyone who cares about education reads this book and that it provokes the debate we so desperately need.
CHOICE - R. J. Reynolds
Recommended.
School Reform News - George A. Clowes George A. Clowes
Clearly, concisely, and convincingly lays out the reasons why...high school seniors score well below their peers in other countries.
The Historian - Victoria-Maria MacDonald
Well-written and provocative.
American Journal of Education - Bruce Gans
Zoch presents...unacknowledged truths that ought to immediately become central to any national policy debate.
The Historian - Victoria Maria MacDonald
Well-written and provocative.
Victoria-Maria MacDonald
"Well-written and provocative."
The Historian
National Retired Teachers Association Live & Learn
...His Book Reminds Us To Expect More Of Students.
George A. Clowes
"Doomed to Fail, clearly, concisely, and convincingly lays out the reasons why K-12 education in the United States produces high school seniors who score well below their peers in other countries."
School Reform News
Publishers Weekly
A teacher of high school Latin and a classics scholar, Zoch joins traditionalist critics like his mentor, Diane Ravitch, in blaming all of the ills of modern U.S. education on the "Progressive Paradigm" associated with John Dewey. There are some interesting chapters on educational history; unfortunately, their purpose is more to make ideological points than generate understanding. A good deal of the book is devoted to building the argument that the prime responsibility for learning rests with students, not teachers, and that the idea that learning is attributable to good teaching sets teachers up for failure. While Zoch presents legitimate criticisms of today's students, society's educational expectations and the excesses of the "learning styles" specialists, the narrow purpose of the text prevents a more nuanced discussion of the drawbacks and merits of innovative forms of pedagogy. One waits until the end of the book to discover Zoch's prescription for improving education: we should take note of the Japanese educational model. The fact that Japanese schools are highly centralized and rigidly structured is outweighed, from his perspective, by their academically rigorous curriculum. Zoch doesn't mention that the Japanese system suffers tremendous numbers of school dropouts and has begun emulating the U.S. schools that he so decries. (Aug. 6) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Zoch, who once taught at a public high school in Texas and now teaches at a private academy there, introduces this censure of progressive education by tracing a path of influence from William James to Howard Gardner. He argues that because today's public-school students are perceived as incapable of high achievement outside of their own preferred modalities or learning styles, it is unfair to hold teachers accountable for student failure. He concludes that public educators should emulate systems which demand that students stretch themselves to learn material they find difficult and that then test students on standardized outcomes. He identifies Catholic schools and systems in some other countries (Japan, China, Germany, and France) as potential models. This book joins other recent titles, including Diane Ravitch's Left Back: A Century of Battles over School Reforms and Kieran Egan's Getting It Wrong from the Beginning, in its criticism of progressive approaches to education. Zoch's specific focus on the strengths of traditional teacher-centered vs. progressive child-centered education is better articulated in Jeanne S. Chall's The Academic Achievement Challenge. Recommended as an optional purchase for libraries with large collections in this area. Jean Caspers, Linfield Coll. Lib., McMinnville, OR Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781566635677
Publisher:
Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
Publication date:
08/20/2004
Pages:
260
Product dimensions:
6.32(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.01(d)

What People are saying about this

R. J. Reynolds
Recommended.
Choice, Eastern Connecticut State University
WILLIAM L. O'NEILL
...One of the most important books on American education ever published....I hope everyone who cares about education reads this book and that it provokes the debate we so desperately need.
RUTGERS UNIVERSITY
Diane Ravitch
...A stunning critique.... Most of the book is a brilliant recapitulation of the history of American education... Engaging.
Education Next
DIANE RAVITCH
This is a book that should be read by anyone who cares about realistic school reform.
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY
GERALD GRAFF
...Arguing in a rigorous and intellectually serious way...Zoch...does much to restore student-centered education to the respectability it deserves.
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT CHICAGO

Meet the Author

Paul A. Zoch studied classics at the University of Texas and Indiana University, and has taught high school in Texas for sixteen years. He has participated in—and been subject to—a myriad of school reform initiatives, but he knows firsthand why they fail. He has also written Ancient Rome: An Introductory History. He is married and has a daughter, and lives in Missouri City, Texas.

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