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From the award-winning and bestselling author of the Tomorrow series. When I hear parents say 'I want my children to enjoy their childhood; there'll be time when they're older to learn about those things', I hear the voices of those who are scared of the vastness of the universe. These adults have a view of childhood as some kind of discrete interval, rather than just a fe From the award-winning and bestselling author of the Tomorrow series. When I hear parents say 'I want my children to enjoy their childhood; there'll be time when they're older to learn about those things', I hear the voices of those who are scared of the vastness of the universe. These adults have a view of childhood as some kind of discrete interval, rather than just a few years from the continuum of life. How fortunate that the spirit, courage and curiosity of many young people remain largely undefeated by such adults. John Marsden has spent his adult life engaging with young minds - through both his award-winning, internationally bestselling young adult fiction and his work as one of Australia's most esteemed and experienced educators. As the founder and principal of two schools, John is at the coalface of education and a daily witness to the inevitable and yet still mysterious process of growing up. Now, in this astonishing, insightful and hugely ambitious manifesto, John pulls together all he has learned from over thirty years' experience working with and writing for young people. He shares his insights into everything - from the role of schools and the importance of education, to problem parents and problem children, and the conundrum of what it means to grow up and be 'happy' in the 21st century.


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From the award-winning and bestselling author of the Tomorrow series. When I hear parents say 'I want my children to enjoy their childhood; there'll be time when they're older to learn about those things', I hear the voices of those who are scared of the vastness of the universe. These adults have a view of childhood as some kind of discrete interval, rather than just a fe From the award-winning and bestselling author of the Tomorrow series. When I hear parents say 'I want my children to enjoy their childhood; there'll be time when they're older to learn about those things', I hear the voices of those who are scared of the vastness of the universe. These adults have a view of childhood as some kind of discrete interval, rather than just a few years from the continuum of life. How fortunate that the spirit, courage and curiosity of many young people remain largely undefeated by such adults. John Marsden has spent his adult life engaging with young minds - through both his award-winning, internationally bestselling young adult fiction and his work as one of Australia's most esteemed and experienced educators. As the founder and principal of two schools, John is at the coalface of education and a daily witness to the inevitable and yet still mysterious process of growing up. Now, in this astonishing, insightful and hugely ambitious manifesto, John pulls together all he has learned from over thirty years' experience working with and writing for young people. He shares his insights into everything - from the role of schools and the importance of education, to problem parents and problem children, and the conundrum of what it means to grow up and be 'happy' in the 21st century.

30 review for The Art of Growing Up

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    After hearing Marsden on radio talking about his book I purchased for my husband and I as it sounded like there were some gems to learn from. What I found was a depressing and negative rant based on personal experience as an educator. It is primarily aimed at the failure of contemporary parenting. It seems Marsden is angry. Angry at parents, but really he seems angry at society. If this is aimed to be a manifesto for change it doesn't develop any sense of inspiration for change. I came away from After hearing Marsden on radio talking about his book I purchased for my husband and I as it sounded like there were some gems to learn from. What I found was a depressing and negative rant based on personal experience as an educator. It is primarily aimed at the failure of contemporary parenting. It seems Marsden is angry. Angry at parents, but really he seems angry at society. If this is aimed to be a manifesto for change it doesn't develop any sense of inspiration for change. I came away from each read feeling I'd just been shouted at by an angry man. It may have been a cathartic download for the author and educator, but I found little to inspire or learn from. Lastly I like to be convinced by evidence. There is little provided, and the book it primarily based on anecdotal inclusions and inference from personal experiences. This is very much a John Marsden view of the world and may or may not equate with others experiences.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    ‘They [children] are exposed to too much and experience too little.’ I first became aware of John Marsden as an author when my son started reading his novels over (cough) 25 years ago. I was also aware that John Marsden has since established two independent schools in Victoria. So, when I read that he’d written a book about effective parenting, I wanted to read it. Since reading it, I’ve been surprised by the number of negative comments about what John Marsden has had to say. Parenting is a diff ‘They [children] are exposed to too much and experience too little.’ I first became aware of John Marsden as an author when my son started reading his novels over (cough) 25 years ago. I was also aware that John Marsden has since established two independent schools in Victoria. So, when I read that he’d written a book about effective parenting, I wanted to read it. Since reading it, I’ve been surprised by the number of negative comments about what John Marsden has had to say. Parenting is a difficult gig: most of us want to ‘get it right’ (whatever that means) and almost everyone is an expert (theoretically). But what are we trying to achieve? Is our aim to prepare our children for effective adulthood, or to cocoon them from mishap? How do they learn to develop and exercise judgement? How do parents work with teachers and other adults who spend time with their children to prepare them for responsible adulthood? Some parents seem to do this instinctively better than others while many of us struggle. But I agree with John Marsden: ‘It can be difficult for us to confront an obvious truth: that one consequence of toxic parenting is uncountable numbers of people in our world who suffer from mental health problems.’ And so many of those who are toxically parented become toxic parents themselves. In his book, John Marsden lists different types of parenting mistakes, and he provides case studies from his schools. He believes that things have become worse for children in recent years, and he believes that much of this is a consequence of parents who don’t know how to parent effectively. Could he be right? Should ineffective parenting be considered as emotional abuse? Can overprotective parenting be as damaging as physical abuse? I kept reading, interested in what John Marsden had to say and in why. There are no easy answers here, but surely the views of an author (most of whose work is aimed at teenagers) and an educator are worth reading? As a parent, it’s hard to get it right. As a parent, all criticism hurts no matter how well intentioned. But the parenting role needs to be flexible, to support our children through the transitions from babyhood with limited independence to adulthood with (in most cases) total independence. As parents we move from caregiver to role model. And I think that we all aspire to be a positive role model. I think this book invites discussion about the most effective ways to parent our children, and surely that is a good thing? I think that this book is worth reading, thinking about and discussing. I’d recommend it highly to anyone interested in children and their parenting. ‘Children will stop bullying other children when adults stop bullying each other. Don’t hold your breath.’ Jennifer Cameron-Smith

  3. 4 out of 5

    Shahedah

    I persevered through a quarter of this book, then started skimming... and then when I hit a sentence referring to Belle Gibson as ‘an attractive young Australian woman who had falsely claimed to have cancer’ and the fact that she was ‘pursued relentlessly by the media without regard to her emotional health’... I knew I had to give up. I thought this was a book about parenting??? Giving up on this book and rating it 2 stars (closer to 1.5 to be honest) makes me sad. I’m of the generation that grew I persevered through a quarter of this book, then started skimming... and then when I hit a sentence referring to Belle Gibson as ‘an attractive young Australian woman who had falsely claimed to have cancer’ and the fact that she was ‘pursued relentlessly by the media without regard to her emotional health’... I knew I had to give up. I thought this was a book about parenting??? Giving up on this book and rating it 2 stars (closer to 1.5 to be honest) makes me sad. I’m of the generation that grew up reading and loving John Marsden, and I do still adore his fiction books. But in reading this, what is supposed to be a reflection on parenting and growing up in the twenty-first century, I felt like I was just reading about all of the gripes Marsden has ever had with people - young, old and everyone in between. The first few chapters (the ones I read properly) were a real struggle. They’re a stream of anecdotes about difficult children and difficult parents that Marsden has encountered in his years of teaching and running schools - which he then relies on to make assumptions about what does/doesn’t work and what leads to terrible behaviour (he even makes references to Hitler, Stalin and others and blames their parents for their causing of mass suffering and international horror). He has no empathy, is highly judgmental, sometimes makes assumptions based on just one instance of behaviour without knowing more, doesn’t draw on any genuine evidence, research or psych studies, and then goes on to talk about what we can learn about children and parenting from fictional works instead! I am all for learning about the human condition and mind from fiction, and I know there are studies connecting fiction-readers with greater levels of empathy, but I think it’s a bit of a stretch to base your parenting techniques on what we can learn from Peter Pan (that’s not a random example, that’s a large chunk of Chapter 4). All in all, this book made me angry and frustrated - and even more frustrating because from a broad perspective and from listening to Marsden speak I actually agree with a lot of his comments and opinions on parenting. But I didn’t learn anything from this book and ultimately felt like I wasted my time. Would not recommend.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Katie Melbourne

    When you pick up this book, put your ego to one side, leave your defences at the door. This is not a prescriptive text that will divide parenting and education into neat Dos and Don'ts. This is a manifesto. It is philosophical and historical and thoughtful and practical and bold. You need to see the big picture, not just how it relates to you personally. Marsden talks frankly, drawing on his extensive experience and deep knowledge of pedagogical practices and theory. I didn't immediately agree wi When you pick up this book, put your ego to one side, leave your defences at the door. This is not a prescriptive text that will divide parenting and education into neat Dos and Don'ts. This is a manifesto. It is philosophical and historical and thoughtful and practical and bold. You need to see the big picture, not just how it relates to you personally. Marsden talks frankly, drawing on his extensive experience and deep knowledge of pedagogical practices and theory. I didn't immediately agree with everything he said, but everything in there is worthy of consideration and contemplation. It's also wonderfully humourous and if you cannot detect this in the physical text, try the audiobook where the light-hearted, cheekiness comes through and you can hear the smile in Marsden's voice as he reminisces and reflects. All that said, the first couple of chapters were tricky to get through on my first attempt. But soon the book gains momentum and by the second half it was just one fascinating topic after another: Ultimately Marsden questions the very fundamentals of how we think of children, how we treat them, and how we teach them. He says that children should be given respect equal to that of an adult and points out the myriad of ways we treat children as lesser. He talks about the mental health of those who care for children, about the power struggles that can occur between authoritarian adults put in charge of children and their charges. He wonders why we rank children and questions how we define our successes: is the goal of parenting/education to produce a person with accolades and wealth, or to produce someone who is happy regardless of their place in the world? Sadly these are still radical ideas in Australia. This is just the tip of the iceberg, Art of Growing Up is deep and broad and detailed in the areas it covers. Not surprising given its the culmination of a lifetime working with and for children. TL;DR version: rocky start, but I finished this book absolutely loving it. I believe my reading this book and considering its viewpoints will directly benefit the children in my life by making me a better adult and carer.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Romany

    I wish I hadn’t read this. I’m not sure I will be able to explain how I feel about it. It’s very well written. Five stars for quality. But... I went to one of the schools mentioned in this book. Maybe it’s more complicated than this author suggests. Maybe we can’t really be sure what might damage a child, and what might count as good schooling. I’m not sure resilience is what we should be aiming for, when raising children. Maybe this book includes gems of insight. Maybe it includes a lot of man I wish I hadn’t read this. I’m not sure I will be able to explain how I feel about it. It’s very well written. Five stars for quality. But... I went to one of the schools mentioned in this book. Maybe it’s more complicated than this author suggests. Maybe we can’t really be sure what might damage a child, and what might count as good schooling. I’m not sure resilience is what we should be aiming for, when raising children. Maybe this book includes gems of insight. Maybe it includes a lot of man bullshit.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ron Brown

    This book could be subtitled “The World According to John.” It is a long and rambling world view by a most talented writer come educator or educator come writer. I am of similar age and had a similar career path as John I was a school principal for over a decade but although I do enjoy creating text my talents in this area are miniscule compared to Marsden. I have read many of his YA books and I am a firm admirer of his work. The Art of Growing up is a detailed treatise of the trial and tribulatio This book could be subtitled “The World According to John.” It is a long and rambling world view by a most talented writer come educator or educator come writer. I am of similar age and had a similar career path as John I was a school principal for over a decade but although I do enjoy creating text my talents in this area are miniscule compared to Marsden. I have read many of his YA books and I am a firm admirer of his work. The Art of Growing up is a detailed treatise of the trial and tribulations of childhood and its associated challenges and rewards. I first heard of this book when there was a reaction to Marsden’s comments on bullying. Those comments come near the end of the book and are somewhat brief. Bullying seems to be the bubonic plague of the twenty-first century. Many people profess to being bullied. From my experience and from the data it is blatantly obvious that many of those who cry about being bullied are themselves bullies. As a principal I saw many mean and nasty teachers and students cry victim when bullying was turned on them. Yes bullying is a problem, yet I see the solution in changing the victim’s behaviour not the bully. There is some truth in Marsden’s comments that at times the victim needs to change. I know for some it is difficult but the simple walk away and don’t respond is the easiest and strongest solution. Naturally in some cases more nuanced responses need to be developed. Individuals need to develop the skills to be in control otherwise others will control them. Too many acquiesce to the demands of the bullies. It was the usual social media suspects who attacked Marsden. These same people are probably the one and two star awarders on this site. I always find it interesting when someone has the audacity to award one star to an author of the calibre of Marsden. Says more about them than him. Marsden had a varied employment history working at a range of schools. At the outset I think that Marsden should have acknowledged that his two schools, Candlebark and Alice Miller are unique in that his students and their parents want to be members of the school community and if they don’t they readily leave, as he mentions on a number of occasions. This is a situation that public school are seldom fortunate enough to be dealt. I agree with and support Marsden’s comments on bully parents, those wanting to censor what is taught n school. (I had a parent who wanted me to ban Morris Gleitzman’s Two Weeks with the Queen.) How most loud and aggressive commentators and politicians are from the far right, his analysis of concrete and abstract thinkers. His criticism of Ken Wiltshire and education minister generally. Finally he has astute observations on John Hattie and his research. I found Marsden’s book a rewarding read. It was slow going in parts but he does make many valid comments about our modern world, education and children. If you don’t want to hear from old privileged white men. Then stay away. If you want to hear from a talented author/educator go for it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ian Kloester

    John Marsden first came to my attention years ago when my daughters primary school teacher encouraged her to read his books, which she enjoyed. I have to admit I was taken aback at the adult themes for someone barely 10 years old but I’m a little more philosophical these days and recognize kids need to deal with them before parents like I realise. She turned out smart and capable so no harm done and probably some good. The enthusiasm the teacher had for John suggested that there was a hint of th John Marsden first came to my attention years ago when my daughters primary school teacher encouraged her to read his books, which she enjoyed. I have to admit I was taken aback at the adult themes for someone barely 10 years old but I’m a little more philosophical these days and recognize kids need to deal with them before parents like I realise. She turned out smart and capable so no harm done and probably some good. The enthusiasm the teacher had for John suggested that there was a hint of the guru about him, so when I heard about this book I was keen to read it and discover what ideas created this sense of admiration. The advertising sound bites were appealing and the book doesn’t disappoint. Railing against helicopter parenting is right up my alley and in the first half especially, I found myself screaming YES! and FINALLY!, frequently. Marsden uses anecdotes about pupils from his many years in schools to lay out his view of what’s wrong with the way we (parents) raise and educate (school) kids these days, and prior. No-one is spared and even Jesus barely stands blameless after reading this book. And only because the accepted history is that He was childless! His common sense advice and wisdom resonated with me and will I suspect, with many of my vintage who walked to school without - or despite - fear, and free-ranged till dark or tea time. He writes a good story and that is both the strength and weakness of this book. I’m not sure the worst kinds of parents described in this book will read it nor recognise the need to change based on these anecdotes alone. Marsden uses little empirical support and kind of just expects us to accept what he has to say as gospel, even arguing against being too rational. He seems incredulous when faced with parents who don’t ‘get it’ and I wonder whether his views that I mostly agree with will be viewed with derision as those he discusses of yesteryear. He has already copped some heat from easily offended click-bait seeking critics for his more non-pc views, despite sitting left of center politically. I suspect the critical divide will be generational more than what side of centre you lean politically, however be warned, if you’re a little right of centre like me, you’re in need of even more reflection. Marsden muses on solutions guru-like and basically asks us to trust his wisdom, drawn from years of observation. I wish he offered more than stories, numbers would help, but I do reckon he’s on to something and hope that many of his ideas take hold. Please read if you’re still parenting or teaching or managing those that do.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Julia Schulz

    I am not surprised to be offering such a highly esteemed review for John Marsden's, "The Art of Growing Up." The man is intelligence personified. I agree wholeheartedly with his findings, and quite frankly, to add my own insight, I find the high degree of helicopter parenting which is so prevalent in the 21st century, nauseating. I feel like grabbing a sick bag and vomiting into it. The continual ferrying around of children from one activity to another, with absolutely no time for the children to I am not surprised to be offering such a highly esteemed review for John Marsden's, "The Art of Growing Up." The man is intelligence personified. I agree wholeheartedly with his findings, and quite frankly, to add my own insight, I find the high degree of helicopter parenting which is so prevalent in the 21st century, nauseating. I feel like grabbing a sick bag and vomiting into it. The continual ferrying around of children from one activity to another, with absolutely no time for the children to ponder, reflect or daydream, saddens me. It is not necessary. Perhaps a scheduled time for homework (in which children should be completing on their own) and maybe one sporting activity for the weekend, is sufficient guidance for a child's outer development. Marsden points out that from his direct experience, genius or gifted people are rare. Most of us are average or below. Unfortunately, minus the strict guidelines of days gone by to curtail these ubiquitous intellectual fantasies, pompousness is rampant. If we are clear on our base line intelligence, then we are motivated to learn more knowledge without the false arrogance of claiming to be smarter than we are. One point in which we digress is the idea that parents need to spend copious amounts of time with their children. i.e. baking cakes; playing UNO; attending sports functions, and so forth. My opinion, and certainly in my upbringing, is that the child should be encouraged to engage as much as possible in these activities with either siblings or friends. Raising well balanced, independent people starts with teaching them how to think for themselves; not encouraging co-dependent behaviors. I think that perhaps parents spending too much time with their children spills over into helicopter parenting. Certainly, as a child, I remember evenings with my parents playing board games as a family; although one on one time for myself or my siblings was rare. My childhood was far from perfect. Very far. Although, I will always remember my parents as parents, not my friends; and I at least respect them for that. Thank you for your common sense, balanced approach towards raising the youth of our society, Mr Marsden.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    This was tricky. John Marsden was and remains my favourite YA author and I respect his experiences. As a high school teacher and mother to four young kids myself, I found many of his points and anecdotes useful, familiar, illuminating and sometimes convicting. I highlighted many passages. But I struggled with this book, mostly with its structure. There were often wildly different points/stories/literature quotes in the same chapter and I struggled to see a coherent argument. There were also big This was tricky. John Marsden was and remains my favourite YA author and I respect his experiences. As a high school teacher and mother to four young kids myself, I found many of his points and anecdotes useful, familiar, illuminating and sometimes convicting. I highlighted many passages. But I struggled with this book, mostly with its structure. There were often wildly different points/stories/literature quotes in the same chapter and I struggled to see a coherent argument. There were also big contradictions (let kids experience danger, we are crazy over-protective, but a teenager died after eating a snail during hazing) that were hard to reconcile in a book that presented itself as knowing the obvious, commonsense way to do things. I’ll still read and respect Marsden’s non-fiction articles, but this long-form style really lost me.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sue Smith

    Uncomfortable collection of opinions The bright shards of common sense, logical recommendations, consideration for others and his wealth of experience have been tarnished by a Freudian view of childhood and adolescence, with particular regard to adolescent males and their mothers. Perhaps skip to the final 2 chapters for a more rational discussion and conclusions that offer a brighter future for children in a world gone mad for derisking our future.

  11. 5 out of 5

    David Readmont-Walker

    Started as a 3, then went to a 4, but came home strongly to score a 5. Marsden is the Gandalf of Growing up. Tomorrow...when the parenting began.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    This is an uncomfortable read, but a necessary one. With so many shifts in expectations in regards to parenting over the years it is easy to get caught up in doing what we think is best for our children, without sufficient regard to the (often unintended) results. John Marsden is an exceptional writer, and offers remarkable insight into the education system and the problems of toxic parenting. Yes, he has strong opinions and isn't afraid to share them, and no, I didn't agree with everything he s This is an uncomfortable read, but a necessary one. With so many shifts in expectations in regards to parenting over the years it is easy to get caught up in doing what we think is best for our children, without sufficient regard to the (often unintended) results. John Marsden is an exceptional writer, and offers remarkable insight into the education system and the problems of toxic parenting. Yes, he has strong opinions and isn't afraid to share them, and no, I didn't agree with everything he said, but I finished the book with a better awareness of myself, the world around me and with knowledge of some particular dangers to avoid levying on my children.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Just so wonderful. The most thoroughly researched book I’ve ever read. I admire Marsden’s conviction and believe he has some incredibly worthwhile insights, opinions & wisdom around children and the education system. I only wish I was able to send my sons to Alice Miller or Candlebark. Every parent and teacher should make reading this book a priority.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Troy

    A fascinating read. John draws on his experience over 40 years of teaching, and writing for, children and young adults and passes on his observations, with some opinion, and some self indulgence at times. The end result is not necessarily a free flowing manifesto, that leads to a solid conclusion, but more a result that essentially says that, in general, strong, positive parents who understand their role, produce well balanced children, who in turn become good parents. Don't be a helicopter, or, A fascinating read. John draws on his experience over 40 years of teaching, and writing for, children and young adults and passes on his observations, with some opinion, and some self indulgence at times. The end result is not necessarily a free flowing manifesto, that leads to a solid conclusion, but more a result that essentially says that, in general, strong, positive parents who understand their role, produce well balanced children, who in turn become good parents. Don't be a helicopter, or, as described in the book 'a curling parent' as it's known in Sweden, don't be distant. It draws on examples from John's extensive teaching in numerous schools and creating his own schools. He also draws on literature to explore the mind if a child, the explanation of Peter Pan, I found fascinating. So in this sense it's not a scientific manifesto per se, but an observational and experience one. And there is value in that. I can see how it could be controversial in that sense, but I did find it very rational. I also valued the analysis of concrete thinking and how it relates to the appeal of the ultra right. A tragedy of our times. The final chapters border on self indulgence in the setting up if his schools and how good his teachers are, but that can be forgiven. 4 stars.

  15. 5 out of 5

    KM-Adelaide

    Ok finished it. Rather dissapointing. John Marsden has some really wacky ideas. Should have read the reviews on Goodreads first! It was a bit like a long rant about problem students and particularly their parents. Not much scientific evidence- mostly anecdotal. His anecdotes. Goes off on a tangent about Australian and American politics. Huh? And he thinks Air rifles for adolescents to control plague birds is a good thing!!.(to keep youth occupied as a passage to adulthood (Huh?). Dissapointing

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ange

    I gave up on page 46. I think we actually align perfectly in our vision of ideal parenting, but his angry, ranting style that includes unfounded statements, sarcastic remarks directed towards children, and glorifying of his friends’ parenting (experienced over one communal dinner) are enough for me. There’s plenty more on my bookshelf I can occupy myself with.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marcella Purnama

    Hmm. This book is incredibly long (I listened to the audiobook, so yes it is super long) and at times I feel like the author talks about the same thing over and over again. I enjoyed the anecdotes, but at the same time they’re quite overused and don’t really serve a purpose other than drilling the notion that some parents just don’t know how to be good parents. I started losing interest in the second half of the audiobook, but persevered long enough to finish it (although my mind was mostly else Hmm. This book is incredibly long (I listened to the audiobook, so yes it is super long) and at times I feel like the author talks about the same thing over and over again. I enjoyed the anecdotes, but at the same time they’re quite overused and don’t really serve a purpose other than drilling the notion that some parents just don’t know how to be good parents. I started losing interest in the second half of the audiobook, but persevered long enough to finish it (although my mind was mostly elsewhere)...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nick Lucarelli

    Sensible ideas on how to raise and school kids properly but heavy handed and jaded in its delivery

  19. 4 out of 5

    PJ

    * Some great points re. a commonsense approach to parenting and schooling. * Have to say it felt a bit like a long winded rant for much of the book. Almost gave up. * Does highlight the ludicrous design of some of our systems. Helping kids grow up to be compassionate, thoughtful, respectful adults should be right up on the priority list of policy makers. Cliched, but they are the future. * Glad I persisted. A useful read now (I have one kid under a year), and expect I will return to it in a few y * Some great points re. a commonsense approach to parenting and schooling. * Have to say it felt a bit like a long winded rant for much of the book. Almost gave up. * Does highlight the ludicrous design of some of our systems. Helping kids grow up to be compassionate, thoughtful, respectful adults should be right up on the priority list of policy makers. Cliched, but they are the future. * Glad I persisted. A useful read now (I have one kid under a year), and expect I will return to it in a few years when the kid/s start school. * Please excuse this poorly written review!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    The most interesting idea I will take from this book; concrete thinkers vs formal thinkers and that not everyone reaches the level of formal thinker.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Steve Groves

    While some good insights that I will take away and use, the author had an axe to grind on some topics. Still, the ideal school he describes is very much like the one we send our son too, so over all I found myself mostly agreeing with what he has to say.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Such mixed reviews for this book! It’s an eye opener for sure but I got so much out of it and really feel inspired to be a better parent and I gained some guidance on how to navigate the difficult role of empowering your child to learn, grow and thrive independently from us. Also how to show appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity we have to live in such privilege in Australia, and raise kids to understand the world. A big focus on the importance of reading, a stance I agree with wholehear Such mixed reviews for this book! It’s an eye opener for sure but I got so much out of it and really feel inspired to be a better parent and I gained some guidance on how to navigate the difficult role of empowering your child to learn, grow and thrive independently from us. Also how to show appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity we have to live in such privilege in Australia, and raise kids to understand the world. A big focus on the importance of reading, a stance I agree with wholeheartedly. It was very insightful and I enjoyed the book. I loved the comparisons and references to literature, definitely added to my reading pile.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    You probably won't enjoy this if you are a helicopter parent. I have had my helicopter parenting moments and always regret them. This is an interesting reflection from John Marsden on his years of experience in teaching and managing schools. I particularly like his refusal to idealise parenting and schools from the past. Failing at both has obviously always been part of the human condition!! I love how the Victorian government has opened its alpine school which means the model of schooling espous You probably won't enjoy this if you are a helicopter parent. I have had my helicopter parenting moments and always regret them. This is an interesting reflection from John Marsden on his years of experience in teaching and managing schools. I particularly like his refusal to idealise parenting and schools from the past. Failing at both has obviously always been part of the human condition!! I love how the Victorian government has opened its alpine school which means the model of schooling espoused by John Marsden are presumably accessible to more than just those who can afford a private school.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kelly | My Teacher Reads

    I could not put this book down! John Marsden, in reflecting on his years as a teacher, principal and author, makes bold statements about parents and schools and how they impact the development of young people. His assertions about certain parenting strategies (particularly those of the “educated middle-class... who don’t just love their children but are in love with them”) sum up what teachers and schools wish they could say but, in today’s world, can’t. Marsden uses anecdotal evidence from his I could not put this book down! John Marsden, in reflecting on his years as a teacher, principal and author, makes bold statements about parents and schools and how they impact the development of young people. His assertions about certain parenting strategies (particularly those of the “educated middle-class... who don’t just love their children but are in love with them”) sum up what teachers and schools wish they could say but, in today’s world, can’t. Marsden uses anecdotal evidence from his leadership experience to support his ideas and these stories of young people, who have been ultimately influenced by their parents’ ineffectiveness, are compelling. He also makes a case for the importance of literature in creating a rounded-out young person. The final few chapters look at how schools can support children to be more resilient, engaged and inclusive. I was looking forward to this section the most, but found that, whilst it was interesting to learn about the schools he has been involved with, it came across a bit boastful. Overall, this book is an educated read for anyone that cares about the future generations of young people.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Steph

    I’d heard this was “provocative” but I just found it ranty and oldfashioned: a baby boomer complaining about how Gen Xs and Ys parent nowadays, and “back in my day we just let kids sort it all out for themselves”... or whatever. Well yeah, but we know more about kids’ brains nowadays and your way led to adults with anxiety and other problems. There were quite a few bits I agreed with but overall I was hoping for something with more convincing information than a bunch of grumpy personal anecdotes I’d heard this was “provocative” but I just found it ranty and oldfashioned: a baby boomer complaining about how Gen Xs and Ys parent nowadays, and “back in my day we just let kids sort it all out for themselves”... or whatever. Well yeah, but we know more about kids’ brains nowadays and your way led to adults with anxiety and other problems. There were quite a few bits I agreed with but overall I was hoping for something with more convincing information than a bunch of grumpy personal anecdotes. Disappointing.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Cox

    Very readable for a manifesto. He’s copped some blowback in the media for some of his ideas on bullying. Even if that element is contestable, there is gold in the other 95% of the book. Well worth a read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carmel

    Sooooo disappointing- didn’t get far before I abandoned it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lenny

    This book could have been so many things - It could have been an interesting, thought-provoking manifesto from a world class educator, aimed at educators, detailing the research and practice of Marsden's highly successful schools, backed by his years of experience. It could have been a shout out to parents, using credited sources to talk about the development and need of young people in differing age brackets and gow that can effect them as they mature. It could have been a reflection on the shif This book could have been so many things - It could have been an interesting, thought-provoking manifesto from a world class educator, aimed at educators, detailing the research and practice of Marsden's highly successful schools, backed by his years of experience. It could have been a shout out to parents, using credited sources to talk about the development and need of young people in differing age brackets and gow that can effect them as they mature. It could have been a reflection on the shifts in children and teen literature over the past 30 years, taking the experience of on of Australia's most successful authors and using that as a promotion of literacy and love of literature. It could have been autobiographical. It could have been a professional development, non-fiction memoir about his reasoning that lead to the creation of unique learning facilities I would have devoured any of the above. Unfortunately, what we got instead was a listless mash up of everything and more, with an inept title and no discernible, clear purpose. Marsden comes across as an angry, old man who is disappointed in all parents and all learning institutions, and can only boast about how much better he has done both. With no tangible way for his methods and approaches to be adapted to support the needs of all young people, either from a teaching or rearing perspective. As an educator, if felt like being told I would never be good enough, or interesting enough to work at one of his schools, and that is just too bad, because nowhere else can do what they do. The worst part was, every point made was interesting, and insightful and I wanted more of it. I agree with with so much of Marsden's insights, but wanted more from them. Research, evidence, a linear direction to theories and thoughts presented. I am so disheartened, when I was looking to be inspired.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sophia

    Marsden lays it all out with raw, rare and brave honesty. This could be a potentialy confronting book for any parent to read. I think when you read this you need to step back and take it in as a whole laying your defences down and taking in all the life experiences on offer. It really made me think more about what a tough gig it must be being a teacher not just in working with all those challenging kids but negotiating with their neurotic parents. I was intrigued initially simply by the fact tha Marsden lays it all out with raw, rare and brave honesty. This could be a potentialy confronting book for any parent to read. I think when you read this you need to step back and take it in as a whole laying your defences down and taking in all the life experiences on offer. It really made me think more about what a tough gig it must be being a teacher not just in working with all those challenging kids but negotiating with their neurotic parents. I was intrigued initially simply by the fact that Marsden does not hold back in his criticism of various bad parenting experiencs he has witnessed. These parents he talks about are familiar to all of us we have all seen them in our community at school and in the supermarket. But Marsden is actually holding them accountable and pointing out the damage they can cause. This to me is new I don't think it happens and we are not used to it. Perhaps this is why people feel the book is negative. But this is only part of what Marsden covers in this huge undertaking he clearly has humility and points out several times that none of us are perfect including himself. Overall what he has to say about a a healthy education for our children sounds on track to me. Real life experiences, climbing trees getting dirty, the adventurous school camps are all great. I have really appreciated hearing Marsden's views and insights.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I found this book pretty astounding for a writer so steeped in innovative education and obviously intelligence. Marsden's main premise at the start of this book is that pretty much all evil in the world can be directly linked to bad parenting. Really?? And what evidence does he have for this belief, or any others expressed in the book? Not much. Surely Marsden's own background should have told him that he needed more to back up his arguments than anecdotal he said/she said personal accounts. It I found this book pretty astounding for a writer so steeped in innovative education and obviously intelligence. Marsden's main premise at the start of this book is that pretty much all evil in the world can be directly linked to bad parenting. Really?? And what evidence does he have for this belief, or any others expressed in the book? Not much. Surely Marsden's own background should have told him that he needed more to back up his arguments than anecdotal he said/she said personal accounts. It seemed a bit amazing that considering the schools are identified, it was a breech of privacy to include so many people that might be recognised (were names changed? i couldn't tell). There are virtually no academic studies mentioned to verify his views, and the ones that are seem random and unsubstantiated. The book has major contradictions, I found that Marsden's own personal experiences did not always back up his premises that parents could be blamed for the bad behaviour of their children. I'll admit i haven't finished the book. Might do as one review suggested and skip to the last 2 chapters.

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