Doing School: How We are Creating a Generation of Stressed-Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students

Doing School: How We are Creating a Generation of Stressed-Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students

by Denise Clark Pope
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Yale University Press
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Doing School: How We are Creating a Generation of Stressed-Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students

This book offers a revealing—and troubling—view of today’s high school students and the ways they pursue high grades and success. Veteran teacher Denise Pope follows five highly regarded students through a school year and discovers that these young people believe getting ahead requires manipulating the system, scheming, lying, and cheating. On the one hand, they work hard in school, participate in extracurricular activities, serve their communities, earn awards and honors, and appear to uphold school values. But on the other hand, they feel that in order to get ahead they must compromise their values. In short, they “do school”—that is, they are not really engaged with learning nor can they commit to such values as integrity and community.

The words and actions of these five students—two boys and three girls from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds—underscore the frustrations of being caught in a “grade trap” that pins future success to high grades and test scores. Their stories raise critical questions that are too important for parents, educators, and community leaders to ignore. Are schools cultivating an environment that promotes intellectual curiosity, cooperation, and integrity? Or are they fostering anxiety, deception, and hostility? Do today’s schools inadvertently impede the very values they claim to embrace? Is the “success” that current assessment practices measure the kind of success we want for our children?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300098334
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 02/20/2003
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 478,511
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

1Welcome to Faircrest High1
2Kevin Romoni: A 3.8 Kind of Guy7
Pleasing Dad: The "Good" Student
Getting Furious: The Competitor
Motivated By Passion: The Engaged Learner
3Eve Lin: Life as a High School Machine29
"Going for the Maximum"
Survival of the Fittest
Enjoying the Process
4Teresa Gomez: "I Want a Future"50
Dancing as Engagement
"Wanting More": The Search for Engagement
5Michelle Spence: Keeping Curiosity Alive?81
An Alternate Course
"Sacrificing Academics"
Learning by Doing What You Love
6Roberto Morales: When Values Stand in the Way117
Playing by the Rules
7The Predicament of "Doing School"149
"Doing School"
The Grade Trap
Constraints of the School System
We Get What We Bargain For
"If Only Things Could Be Different"
A.General Information about the Students in the Study
B.Common Student Behavior Exhibited in Pursuit of Success

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Doing School: How We are Creating a Generation of Stressed-Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seeking to “…inspire other students and educators to make significant changes to improve the quality of secondary education,” Denise Clark Pope, past high school English teacher, tackles the controversial topic of America’s education system and the role it plays in fostering creative and exceptional thinking skills. A lecturer at Stanford University School of Education, Pope articulates what she learned from the semester long act of shadowing five “of [the] best and brightest” students from Faircrest High School. Pope’s detailed recollections of countless interviews, and observations of the students in their usual classroom environments, showcase the students’ personal lives and just how far they are willing to go to “achieve” high grades. Sacrificing physical well-being, mental health, and ethical guidance, the five successful students voice their frustrations with the education system and explain how they attempt to “do school.” The students resort to methods including: cheating, sleeping for very short periods of time each night, compromising values, and establishing teacher-student alliances. Despite the different motive for each student to simply “do school,” and not enjoy and understand the material, Pope identifies a common source of the stress: becoming “successful” after college. Pope’s detailed encounters with each student in separated chapters showcase the severe differences between each student and the way they “do school.” Parents, students, teachers, and administrators: “‘Doing School,’” is an eye-opening book that answers, “What kind of behavior is fostered by the expectations of the school community and by those outside of the school?” Any reader interested in a solution to develop an environment that promotes “…intellectual curiosity, cooperation, and integrity,” and not “…anxiety, deception, and frustration,” should absolutely read this insightful book. ~Brazington
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the main ideals of education is to teach students to be honest, responsible, diligent, and morally upstanding. When society looks at our successful students, they see these young people as representative of all those ideals. However, if you look closely, you would be surprised how these top students really think and behave under the education system. Denise Clark Pope, the author of ¿Doing School¿- How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students, embarked on a journey to find the unheard voices of the students, and conveyed their experiences and their perspectives in order to understand how they think and use that information to create a better educational system. Pope did her research in Faircrest High School which is located in a wealthy California suburb. She chose this school because it had an excellent reputation, and had a diverse population of students where about 95 percent of the school¿s graduates attend college. Based on multiple recommendations from the teachers and administrators, she picked 5 students, who were considered successful by their adult peers, for her research. These 5 students represented a different part of the spectrum of the tenth and eleventh grade student population, having differences in gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic background and academic interests. Pope shadowed these 5 students over the course of 8 months, observing their behavior in classrooms, conducting talks and interviews on a weekly basis, and using student journals, essays, and class notes to figure out how the students felt about school environment and the curriculum. Pope felt that in order to gain their trust and cooperation from the students, she did not interview teachers, parents, or administrators, making her research mainly based on the students¿ perspectives. From the perspective of an outside observer, one would think that Faircrest High School¿s success is largely due to the fact that the students are hardworking, multitalented, and responsible, upholding the ideals of the education system. However, if you listen to the students and you would get a different side of the story of success. These 5 students revealed that they were busy ¿doing school.¿ They were part of a system in which success and achievement came from doing certain things and not from learning and engaging with the curriculum. They learned how to manipulate the system so that they knew what to do to get the better grade. Instead of being genuinely interested and engaged in the content, the students were more focused on finding ways to cut corners with their work load and developing ways to get high grades. Some of these strategies to get high grades include forming alliances with teachers and administrators to get on their good side and hopefully take advantage of that for their personal gain, cheating in exams, and to challenge certain grades and decisions, hoping that teachers and administrators would give in to their complaining and comply with them. The students had learned from their parents and the rest of society that wealth is the key to a happy future and in order to get money you need a high paying job which you have a better chance of getting if you got into an Ivy League university. In order to get into these Ivy League schools you need to obtain the perfect 4.0 GPA, and stand out from the rest of the crowd by participating in as many AP and honor classes, and extracurricular activities that you can manage. The expectation to succeed compounded with the huge workload had made the students felt that they needed to give up recreation, sleep time, health and other parts of their social life in order to succeed. They had developed a mentality that they need to do whatever it took to succeed, even if it meant sacrificing their personal happiness and in some cases their moral compass. The students needed to get high grades in order to have a better chance of attending a prest
Guest More than 1 year ago
Though it appears undeniable that all students struggle with interpreting the numerous mixed signals that they receive, it hardly seems fair or even justifiable to assert that all students are ¿stressed-out¿ from the desire to succeed. This however, is exactly what Pope seems to suggest. In fact her initial claim can be found in the title where she unabashedly blames ¿us¿ for creating students that are stressed out and materialistic. Such a claim by itself seems too ambitious, but becomes even more so when the reader discovers the type of study she used to come to such a conclusion. She picked a handful of students from one school in a wealthy suburb of California. At this point she has already limited the degree of transfer her findings could have by simply limiting her sample size. As if that were not enough, she picks a setting that is far unlike the majority of American schools. To make it worse, she selects the students that were considered to be the top performers in that particular school. Her first mistake is perhaps the most forgivable. It is difficult for one person to sample more than a few students repeatedly for an extended period of time. She quite possibly did not have the time or resources to include a larger group. Nevertheless, she is guilty of breaking a fundamental tenant of any research that attempts to apply the observations from a group of people to society as a whole. The larger the sample size, the more accurate one¿s conclusions are. The inverse is equally true. Instead of making blanket statements about the problems of society, she should have realized that her small samplings could only apply to a smaller group rather than to the nation in general. The second error she made is in picking students from only one school. By limiting her research to those living in California in what she describes to be an affluent area, Pope simultaneously limits the application of her conclusion to other states, other districts, and even other schools. Again, she has disobeyed the unwritten rules of research by neglecting to select a random sampling of students that could represent more than one specific area. This neglect results in a conclusion that lacks any provable correlation to anything outside of her immediate sampling. A third error, and in my opinion her most offensive, is in her decision to pool the most successful. In the book she plainly states that all the students were recommended to her by the principal and the teachers. She explains that they were at the top of their classes academically and at times socially as well. Such a desire to gather the most successful would not be problematic if her ultimate goal was to prove that high-achievers often struggle with the dilemmas presented in her book. However, she seems to have no qualms in relating that to all students, an act that I find misguided and ridiculous. It seems only logical that those who are the most concerned with academic success would also be the ones that are easily stressed out. Her hints that all students become burnt out are unfounded and completely unjustifiable. For example, it is unlikely that students who focus on sports more than on grades experience the same type of stress that academics can bring to others, and yet such students often strive for and achieve success as well. Ultimately, Pope¿s findings are valid, but her applications are drastically overemphasized. The book should have been titled, ¿Doing School: How a community in a wealthy Californian suburb may be creating a group of 5 high-achievers that are stressed-out, materialistic, and miseducated.¿ Any attempt to apply this conclusion to a larger group is overly ambitious, and equally narrow-minded.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Who are our high school 'achievers'? What are their goals? What are their daily lives like, and how do we define 'success in education'. Certainly Denise Clark Pope's investigation into the engagement level of several high school high achievers begins to ask these questions. This text made me re-think what the goals of attending any educational program are... I am eager to read what I hope will be a follow up examining the long term effects of superficial engagement with learning and the focus students place upon extrinsic achievement at all costs. 'Doing School' is recommmended for all related to education - parents, teachers, counselors, administrators... but most of all - STUDENTS !