Book Review: Real Education by Charles Murray

August 19th, 2010 by Mandi

Nate and I have resolved to post every day, but alas, it is 11:45 p.m. on “my” day and the meaty, philosophical piece that I started is saved as a local draft on his iPhone.  Instead, I thought I would share a review of a book that I posted a little over a year ago on Visual BookshelfReal Education by Charles Murray fits well with my educational philosophy, which I will be discussing in more detail in posts to come.  So without further ado, my review:

In Real Education, Charles Murray steps out on a limb by criticizing many of the conventions of today’s public education system. For those with idealistic views of education, beware: although Murray’s criticisms are fair, his ideas may seem abrasive.

He comes down hard on what he calls “educational romanticism,” or the assumption that any child can do anything.  For example, he points out that half of students are below average (statistically there is no way around this). And it’s true! Too many people are going to college, yet high schools seem to be pushing harder than ever to have more students go in that direction.

His proposal to emphasize technical/vocational education makes perfect sense, since only 20% of jobs require college degrees. As someone who has a Master’s degree and would probably be [financially] better off working at McDonald’s, I can attest that many of his criticisms of the college system are valid.

I could go on forever listing points where I agree, but I will leave it to the reader to agree or disagree. He lists an impressive bibliography, yet writes in an engaging style that feels as if he is having a personal conversation with a reader. Highly recommended for educators, parents, or anyone interested in (particularly those frustrated by) the state of education.

May I add to the list of recommended readers: homeschoolers and potential homeschoolers.  Although we had already decided to homeschool when I found the book, it helped me cement my decision.  And with that, it’s nearly midnight.  Farewell!