Summary and book reviews of Coloring Outside The Lines by Roger Schank

Coloring Outside The Lines

Raising a Smarter Kid by Breaking All the Rules

By Roger Schank

Coloring Outside The Lines
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  • Hardcover: Aug 2000,
    320 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2001,
    272 pages.

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Book Summary

"I am writing this book because I am horrified by what schools are doing to children." So begins this controversial and enlightened book by Roger Schank, a world-renowned expert on learning who believes that every day of the school year our children are being failed by an academic system that does nothing to stir a lifelong passion for learning. In this lively, sometimes alarming book, Schank shatters the myths about how children learn and offers candid advice for parents who want to raise kids with gumption, ambition, creativity, inquisitiveness, and analytic and verbal proficiency--the six traits of practical intelligence that kids need, not simply to get good grades and citizenship awards, but to succeed in life.

Known for his provocative and trendsetting views on education, Schank, who is also a parent, bases his approach on decades of cutting-edge research. Fueled with day-to-day examples from the lives of his own children, Schank explains that being smart does not necessarily mean getting straight A's. It means speaking convincingly and eloquently; it means being able to think on your feet; it means creating original ideas that push the boundaries; it means being able to size up situations and come to logical conclusions; it means being curious, being able to set meaningful goals, being willing to risk failure; and it means feeling free and confident enough to color outside the lines. Since schools are not nurturing these skills--in fact, they work against most of them--proactive parents who care about the intellectual development of their kids and want to guide them toward a bright future have to take action.

Amid all the talk about getting back to basics and the need for testing and accountability, Schank's irreverent voice is refreshing and inspiring. See the world through the eyes of your child, he says. Stand up for your daughter and don't always assume the teacher is right. Don't badger your son into spending long hours struggling over his math homework if he hates math. Put things into perspective. You want a kid who does well in life, finds his true passions, is willing to innovate and take risks. Scoring high on the SATs doesn't guarantee a bright future if there is no love of learning. As this wonderful book reveals, these goals may not be the measure by which schools judge success, but for a parent they are--or should be--the most meaningful report card of all.

Chapter One
What Is a Smarter Kid?

"SMART" is a relative term. School smarts are different from street smarts; the nerdy science genius and the savvy gang leader demonstrate distinctly different abilities, but they are both smart. Or think about where the boundary of intelligence ends and natural talent begins: Was Michael Jordan a smart basketball player or a talented one? It's also instructive to note that some of the most brilliant people do some of the stupidest things. I have a friend who refers to people who are so smart they can't function as suffering from "200 IQ disease."

A book by Howard Gardner called Multiple Intelligences proposes that there are myriad forms of intelligence -- musical intelligence, athletic intelligence, and so on. In Gardner's view, many people are intelligent in some way, and so the term "intelligence" becomes virtually meaningless. In this politically correct view of intelligence, most of us are smart at something.

Even the ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Author Blurb Ellen Langer, Ph.D., author of The Power of Mindful Learning
Eminent psychologist Roger Schank holds nothing back regarding his opinion of the state of education today. Just as forcefully, he offers advice to parents that is outrageously direct, easy to follow, and likely to be enormously useful.

Author Blurb Jerome Feldman, Ph.D., professor, UC Berkeley and International Computer Science Institute
For three decades, Roger Schank has been fearlessly coloring outside the lines -- first in creating intelligent software and then in applying it to education. Now he is using these original ideas to advise parents on how they can take charge of their children's education, opposing the school system where necessary. With the current mania over standardized tests frustrating teachers and students alike, parents need to communicate to their children what true learning is about. This book shows the way.

Author Blurb Elliot Soloway, Ph.D
Coloring Outside the Lines is provocative on a whole lot of levels Roger Schank is demonstrating to professionals, academics--and parents!--how a theoretical framework can be applied to totally personal, everyday situations. Pick up a practical tip on interacting with your child, and come away with an all-inclusive philosophy of child rearing that will drastically change the way you see your child and his life.

Publisher's Weekly

Schank provides a provocative look at today's educational system...Educators may find Schank's frank remarks disturbing, but parents concerned about raising smarter kids with a passion for learning will find this a helpful and eye-opening treatise on what they may already have suspected about formal education. Way outside the lines, this is a compelling and vital book for parents of school-age children.

Library Journal

Using his ILS research and examples from his own experience as a father, he emphasizes the importance of retaining one's intellectual energy and learning from experience, failure and practice...Somewhat reminiscent of Arnold Skromme's The 7-Ability Plan (1989) and complementary to Howard Gardener's The Unschooled Mind (Basic Books, 1993), Coloring Outside the Lines is a wake-up call to a society that is quick to label inquisitive children as having ADD. Recommended for all public libraries.

Reader Reviews
Roadrunner

Excellent! It is written with the "smarter child" in mind. I think it is also a great book for parents of gifted children. The author gives practical suggestions on how to promote your child's imagination, critical thinking skills, ...   Read More

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