And I thought liberals were condescending?!, October 12, 2007
The reason you don't get this stuff in school is because any savvy teacher knows that trying to motivate 30 restless kids with Sykes' hoary platitudes and nagging tone will inevitably have the opposite effect. Everything's in here in its cliched condescension except for maybe "back in MY DAY..." Rule number one of imparting advice to anyone of any age - gain their trust first. If you blunder in, wagging your finger as Sykes does, you'll just get a backlash. It's actually worse than keeping your trap
Sykes should try his material on a classroom of average eighth-graders and see if he can get them to do anything close to what he intends.
Sykes expresses resentment toward teachers for getting tenure and suggests that this is not part of the "real world." I envy teachers' schedules (but not their jobs) as well, but just because you resent these perks doesn't mean you can simply write them out of the "real world" unless you're in serious denial. Without tenure, how many people would choose to become teachers what with so many other options available? That's the real world.
It's ironic that he claims to want to instill respect for authority but encourages his young readers to devalue what they're learning from those who are acting in loco parentis. Teachers don't create the curriculum. Changes in curricula are driven by administrators and education colleges. Blaming teachers for teaching too much self-esteem doesn't make any more sense than blaming cops for giving illegal immigrants a pass. In both cases, the priorities are set elsewhere.
In one rule, he complains that kids are too materialistic. Then in another one, he complains about their idealism. Frankly, the Millennial Generation works hard, serves its country, and in general is the most bright-eyed and bushy-tailed I've seen in quite a while. They've really done their best to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of a generation of broken homes left by Sykes' fellow Baby Boomers. But not many of them are going to respond to something this unfocused and mediocre.
Of course, the reviewer should have said the kids of today have "really done their best to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of a generation of broken homes left by Sykes and his fellow Baby Boomers." But that's really a minor quibble.
And, of course, eighth graders or college bound kids won't respond to this book -- and frankly, the Brawler doubts Charlie is even trying. They aren't the target of this book. It's conservative adults of a certain age who want their sense of the world reaffirmed and their own egos stroked. This book tells them how great they are. It doesn't tell their kids how to deal with reality. Seriously, what does Mr. Liz Woodhouse know about reality?
Speaking of Amazon: The Brawler periodically has checked out the book's ranking. Early on it was in the mid-to-high three digits. Lately it's been bouncing between in a range from 2,500 to 5,200 (roughly, if memory serves -- there's a significat plus/minus there). Last the Brawler checked, it clocked in at 5,729. While the algorithms of Amazon ratings are incredibly complex and their meaning opaque, The Brawler senses the slide has yet to begin...