Mugamore: Succeeding without Labels - Lessons for Educators

Mugamore: Succeeding without Labels - Lessons for Educators

by Dr. Jonathan T. Jefferson


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This book was developed to compare the real life educational experiences of an average child during the last generation in which the United States led the world in education to a real child's experiences today (when the United States is no longer in the top 20). The practice of labeling students with a disability has reached the status of a dangerous standard practice. Increasing demands for educational accountability will lead to more students being labeled and left behind.

Written from a unique in-depth child's point-of-view, this book is designed to trigger a paradigm shift from automatically labeling children to patiently allowing them to grow into themselves. The author compares common disabilities chapter-by-chapter in sync with the child's intentions (or lack thereof). This sharing of the educational lives of two children, coupled with peer reviewed literature and research, provides powerful motivation for change....

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781460223413
Publisher: FriesenPress
Publication date: 07/30/2013
Pages: 144
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.34(d)

About the Author

Born in 1969 as the seventh of eight children to two Harlem raised parents, this author benefited from both the inner-city life of Queens, New York, and childhood summers spent on a farm in rural upstate New York. Academic, professional, and physical accomplishments have punctuated this author's life. After earning his doctorate from Seton Hall University in 2006 in the area of education leadership, management, and policy, creative pursuits such as self publishing memoirs, poetry, and photography have taken the edge off of an otherwise mundane existence as a public school administrator. An adventurer by nature, he became the first African American to hike to the top of every mountain in the northeast United States over 4,000' (115 of them) by September of 2000. At that time, less than 400 people had accomplished this feat; whereas thousands have scaled Mount Everest. Escaping to the U.S. Virgin Islands to manage a friend's Eco-lodge in 2009 provided him with the respite necessary to begin serious writing and research on the topics of life and education....

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Mugamore: Succeeding without Labels - Lessons for Educators 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My initial reaction to the cover of this book was of immediate dislike. It features a boy labels across his face. I thought, “Here we go again…” and did not feel compelled to want to read this book, but then I read the entire title of the book, Mugamore: Learning without Labels—Lessons for Educators, and I was intrigued. As a homeschooling parent most educational theory books draw my attention. I want to know what is going on in and around education today. I have read extensively and I am usually underwhelmed by new books because I find that they are just the same old information with a new cover and a slightly different voice. Skimming through the chapter titles, I wasn’t expecting to be wowed or to gain much new insight from Dr. Jefferson’s book.  However, Dr. Jefferson draws attention to the problems facing today’s educational system by juxtaposing American schools in the 21st century to their late 19th century counterparts. It is clear that Dr. Jefferson believes that today’s schools have declined since the 80s and have lost their focus on educating the whole child in lieu of preparing them for standardized tests. He is quick to surmise that today’s educational model is to slap labels on children, especially boys, and place them in special education classes. The first half of this nonfiction book follows Mugamore, highlighting his experiences within the American education system in the mid-70s and early 80s. Mugamore was a child living in the inner-city who ran away from school in second grade, was retained in third grade but overcame these obstacles to become student body vice president in sixth grade. Although not wealthy, Mugamore is a product of a nuclear family with both a father and mother in the home and siblings. His summers are spent on a family farm in the country where Mugamore and his siblings are given the freedom to explore and to just “be kids.”  In the second half of the book, Dr. Jefferson introduces us to Taylor, a young man born to a cocaine-addicted mother. Taylor was adopted twice, first by a foster mother who eventually terminates her parental rights, and again at the age of 14 by a school administrator. Taylor spends his childhood bouncing around between residential treatment facilities and group homes. His childhood is vastly different than Mugamore’s. Therefore, it is difficult for readers to draw accurate comparisons between the educational experiences of the two boys as they are not on an equal playing field. While the first half of the book, Mugamore’s story, was compelling, Taylor’s story was a more difficult read. There were pages of therapy notes from his stay in a facility in Jamaica, many of which did nothing to move the story along. I found myself wanting to skip over the notes. I also found some of the transitions confusion. Thrown in at the end of the chapter on Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Grades, (Mugamore) Dr. Jefferson adds a section on same-sex schooling in which he concludes that the findings on the benefits of same-sex schooling are inconsistent. This five-paragraph section does not add any substantial information to the overall book, and, in my opinion, could have been omitted.  Dr. Jefferson ends each chapter with a “wrap-up,” which summarizes the chapter’s key points and provides a few resource links. I found the wrap-up sections useful, but wish they had been expanded to really delve more deeply into the issues. I was hoping for suggestions, and more theoretical or empirical evidence on how to improve a failing educational system to make this a truly useful book for teachers and others in the education industry. 
EDL85 More than 1 year ago
“Mugamore” is a thoughtful study of and commentary on childrearing in the 1970s generation and the present. The first half of the book follows a young boy named Mugamore from age five through high school; the second half follows a young boy named Taylor from birth through high school. After the author describes the students’ experience in particular grades and stages of development, he then provides commentary on how the child is developing and what factors influence him. Mugamore’s childhood is drastically different from Taylor’s—he has a loving mother, siblings, and teachers who are (for the most part) forgiving of his mistakes; this allows him to experiment, grow, and eventually succeed. Taylor, who is born addicted to drugs, also has a loving foster mother—but as he is constantly labeled a problem and shipped to new schools to “deal with him,” he gets sucked into a cycle of apathy, misbehavior, and fear. I liked the author’s point in “Mugamore” quite a bit—that there is too much focus today on rigid labeling and zero tolerance for even normal childhood behaviors. His book clearly draws connections between this and the failure of many children to thrive in the school system and succeed as adults. I also liked the faux-memoir aspect of it, as the author spends a lot of in-depth time describing important events in the boys’ lives (in fact, when I first saw the cover I assumed it was a memoir). I don’t know how much I agree that it’s the fault of schooling and labeling that causes children to fail, as parents, social pressures, and factors such as technology are also important, but the author makes excellent points and challenges you to think about the political shift that drastically changed the experience a schoolchild goes through. Recommended to educators, parents, and readers interested in social issues.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In Mugamore, Dr. Jefferson has lifted the curtain on the incredibly complicated failings, misadventures, misdiagnoses, and terribly directed business oversight of the new quantitative educational system for both educators and the general public.  Unlike a great deal of obfuscation and acronym that cripples many of the industry texts, Jefferson presents information in an unbiased and direct way, while using peer-reviewed sources presenting educational data that seems to me to have been largely ignored by policymakers and educational leadership in the United States, further adding to a system that is crippling students and educators under the guise of making everything better. One of my favorite parts of the book was interestingly also one of my biggest gripes with it. Jefferson presents a lot of information in a allegorical and anecdotal manner throughout the text, presenting several characters who tell a story beside the data being presented.  This presents real world applications that seem to walk through the last forty years of events and educational decision making leading us to where we are today. It presents some of the ways education was failing in 70s and 80s, but then counterbalances it with the variety of surprisingly different failures that are happening today.  The book does this with an engaging narrative that is touching, shocking, and real, and then these chapters are followed or preceded with the topics about educational policy most directly related to the thematic elements of the narrative. As much as I liked the narrative portions, I also didn't like it because it was clear throughout the book that the author had some specific investment in the characters of Mugamore, Taylor, and Dr. Bixby.  It turns out that we learn he does have direct investment, but that personal investment may have affected the structure of the narrative in terms of the creative writing aspect of the story in several moments when I was confused about who I was reading about.  Furthermore, in my opinion there were some poor transitions between the two stories and the academic portions as well.  Both of these things may have been a little easier to understand if there was clarity on the pseudonymous characters from the beginning.  One final thing is that the weight of the anecdotal aspects might be the only thing keeping this book from being an industry tool that it could easily have become - and I wonder if it could with a little more balance and tweaking of the research portions (although, I am sure that the accessibility of this work to the general public might also be an important selling point to the author and the publishers - and should be commended as well!) In brief, Mugamore is an excellent book about educational policy and the effects of a world constantly at odds with wanting students to succeed by focusing on the wrong things.  While Jefferson doesn't entirely provide any answers, his study on the topics over the generations and the various effects on three distinct people is an inspirational approach to an industry oversaturated with ineffective literature that can be enjoyed in one sitting by a parent, administrator, education professor, and everyone in between.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Mugamore. The story of two youths and their educational experiences was presented in a format that helped deepen my understanding of the impact of educators’ choices. Minor offenses or reasonable approaches by educators that may seem insignificant can ultimately change the trajectory of an individual’s future. The drama unfolds for curious and incorrigible Mugamore as he comes into his own while decades later Taylor’s plight illuminates a very different world of education. The story dances through current affairs and personal circumstances bringing a holistic view of our nation’s education system and how our children can be misunderstood, misrepresented, lost, and recovered. Highly recommended read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Save your child from a label that may negatively alter the trajectory of their life. Well written. Points were succinctly stated.