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Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child Paperback – 4 Mar 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute; Reprint edition (4 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610170792
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610170796
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 482,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By margaret chiara mazzucco on 28 May 2013
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The author's insight into the tragic current status quo of child formation is important reading for all parents and educators. A must read! May the world wake up to the numbing and dumbing down of future generations in the making. Hurrah for the brave words of Anthony Esolen.
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By Nicholas Reitzug on 2 Sept. 2014
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Excellent! A modern day CS Lewis!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 25 reviews
48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
WAKE UP!!! 21 July 2013
By Badgers! - Published on
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"What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad."
- Morpheus "The Matrix"

This is probably one of the most thought provoking, scary, and wonderful books I have ever read. As a home educator of young children, it caused me to totally re-evaluate how I have been teaching them. I was trying to bring public school home. I was trying to emulate a broken system that was so bad I wanted to spare my children what I went through. This book helped bring me back to reality- that education is more than rote memorization and "socialization". It is about the men and women they will become. It is about the freedom to be human beings, not a cog in the machine.

I can vouch for the sad realities presented in this book. Most of my friends from my church and my job feel it too- that something is fundamentally wrong. That we lost our moral compass, our sense of community, That we don't care about patriotism, politics, civic duty, or even each other. We live check to check, existing for the next stupid purchase or some form of escapism to pass the time. That something in the past 100 years that we cant put our finger on shifted, and the life that our parents had is gone. This is the first book I have read that is able to systematically break down where it begins and how to change it. It begins with robbing our children of that which is priceless- their childhood.

If you have kids this is an essential book to read. Think about what kind of life you want for those you hold dear, and be willing to do what it takes for them to have it. This may require some unconventional ideas such as the following:
1. Taking away electronic devices that keep you from interacting with each other (Killing your electronic babysitters)
2. Not scheduling their whole day with activities
3. Allowing them to have time to play
4. Allowing them to get dirty/hurt. ALLOWING THEM TO BE KIDS
5.Being willing to admit that maybe what is happening in public school is not what is best for them, or you
6. Teach your kids that it is OK to be proud of our country!
7. Teach your kids about God!!!
NOTE: This will open you up to the criticism of your peers and family. Be ready.
There is so much more, but if you bothered to read this far you will probably get the book anyway. This book is to quote Mr.Esolen " a poke in the eye to modern parenting". (I am paraphrasing from a hilariously bad interview on Fox news.) By doing the opposite of what he says, the results will probably be amazing. You may actually raise good men and women who realize that there is so much more to life than getting a job and accumulating more stuff. They may grow up to ACTUALLY BE HAPPY! More than that, they may grow up to be a force of good to change our country. I cant recommend this book enough. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU Mr.Esolen!
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant! Parents and Educators should read this book! 13 Nov. 2013
By tonilpayne - Published on
This book is just so brilliant! There is no better way to say it! I would give it 6 stars if I could. Parents, educators, leaders, and anyone who cares about children or the future of America must read this book! You will be challenged. The way you were raised will be questioned, and the way you are raising your children will certainly change. I underlined. I starred. I read and re-read chapters. I cannot recommend this book to you highly enough!

Author Anthony Esolen writes in a tongue-in-cheek style that provides interest and humor. It reminds me of reading CS Lewis’s Screwtape Letters. Sometimes I had to think about things inside-out to get what he was actually trying to say. This style of writing not only makes it more intriguing but allows for a deeper reflection about the author’s point. My own children worried when they saw the title of the book, “Mom, why are you trying to destroy our imaginations?” Obviously, no one would suggest such a thing, but the author’s style of writing shows that is exactly what we are doing everyday and in so many ways all across America, whether we recognize it or not. Certainly, there are some who are doing this purposefully, and Esolen’s book exposes their agendas. For many of us, we have grown inured to the cultural, educational and spiritual decline around us. This book is a wake up call, reminding us what is at stake: our children.

Take a stroll through the chapter titles and you will see a variety of topics that Esolen elaborates on. The ways we are destroying childhood as a culture may not be as obvious as you thought. Chapter 1 starts with a call to care about facts, memorization, and truth. How do these benefit a child’s imagination? Esolen illustrates the power of a child’s memory  and debunks the “Jellyfish Theory of the Imagination” and, “according to this theory, the imagination abhors all structure, all rules. It likes to float along in a sea of impressions…” (15).  He cleverly demonstrates how school has become the “eater of time” for children, keeping the student “busy and idle at the same time” (25). His satire of our educational process is poignant.

Every chapter provides a deeper analysis of how our modern education system is destructive. I felt chastised in many regards as both the parent and teacher of my children. However, Esolen does not come across as ungracious or snarky. (His tone is satirical, but I always felt when reading his book that he must be a kind and gentle man.) What has become of our educational system when, “Reading is all about the adoption of the correct position. We are not about working the imagination. We are about working the precincts” (108)? Children are being, “fooled into thinking that they are thinking, just because they will have adopted the correct position on matters they know absolutely nothing about.” It is lamentable that, “the contemporary novelist and poet wears banality like a badge of distinction” (106). The state of our education system is tragic, and similar to Lewis’s work, The Abolition of Man, Esolen’s book is eye-opening to its devastating deficiencies.

His insightful criticism throughout the book is matched by compelling suggestions from history, literature, and art that would encourage a child’s imagination. Esolen reminds us of the stories and wisdom of the ancients. He teaches us through illustrations from Dante, Dostoyevsky, St.Augustine, Tolkien, Aquinas, Hawthorne, and so many more. He appeals to us from examples of heroic men and women from the past. In his attempt to demonstrate the ways we are destroying our children’s imaginations, he lifts our own to new heights. He challenges modern views of history and helps us see the old ways in a new light.

Esolen’s most important contribution to cultural criticism is found in the chapters on sexuality and distinctions between a man and a woman, “If the imagination is essential to genuine humanity, and if that imagination is kindled by the strangeness of one sex to the other, then anything we do to blunt a child’s humanity will probably also blunt his sense of wonder for the opposite sex” (182). He argues that the distinctions between manliness and womanliness, “give a young person a recognizable ideal for which to strive, and to grow into, and-this is most important-it is an ideal not of their own devising” (192). His critique of the paltry, vulgar, and mechanical way we view and teach sex in our culture should disturb us greatly. These chapters are an astounding rebuttal against the disturbing arguments of educators who, “go marching forth in the vanguard of ‘progress,’ instructing our students in the technique of how-to-rut-without-offspring, and shrugging away all questions of love” (172).

The most personal and beautifully written chapters are on the transcendent. What does the Bible have to do with fostering a child’s imagination? How does the “very idea of God” stir the imagination? Can schools really be neutral with regard to the being of God? Esolen answers these questions with lovely prose, and he helps the reader see, “If we have the love of God, the saints all testify, what do we need from anything else? And if we do not have that love, not all the creature comforts and tricksy gadgetry and rubbings and itchings of appetite can fill up the tiniest corner of the chasm that remains” (230). He argues that man is a creature “who looks up.” If you take away the existence of God, it would be like “confining his mind to a room with low ceilings.” Sadly, it is the materialists who write the textbooks for schools, and who need to read this book!

So much more could be said about the chapters with practical wisdom on redeeming childhood by encouraging children to play outside, have hobbies, and play without adult supervision. There are so many quotable quotes, I wish I could include them all. You will simply have to read the book yourself; better have a highlighter handy!

Esolen’s brilliant book, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, keenly exposes the destructive parenting and educational trends in modern culture. It is a book rich with wisdom, humor, satire, and inspiration to something better for our children- the gift of childhood. It’s poignant critique of mass education, entertainment, and politics makes it a must read. Oh! If only we had more men like Anthony Esolen trumpeting such a cause! How then things might change for the good, and our children be the first to benefit.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Must read for every parent 11 April 2013
By Paul - Published on
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This book is loaded with good advice ( I am a grandparent). Every parent should read this book and all who read it will be helped. The author is a great teacher and exceptionally intelligent.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
One of the best works of cultural criticism of the past two decades 6 May 2013
By Brian Brown - Published on
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Esolen's book is equal parts humor and seriousness, storytelling and nonfiction, cultural criticism and just plan loving childhood done right. He paints a beautiful picture of what childhood ought to be and contrasts it with what it is today for most kids. He doesn't run around assigning blame; rather, he takes the satirical position of the imaginary person who wants to destroy a child's imagination, and demonstrates how so much of what we put our kids through ("for their own good") actually works toward that end. This is one of the best books I've read in years.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Good but a few things . . . 30 Aug. 2013
By H. Johnson - Published on
I wish I could give this five stars because I agree with 90% of what he says (the chapters on heroes and patriotism I disagree with somewhat). I gave it four stars for a couple of reasons.

First, the way it is written is difficult to read. He writes in a vein that goes with the title of the book, as if we WANT to destroy children's imagination. This is sarcastic, obviously, which is one issue but also he can't keep it up throughout, at times talking as if we don't want to destroy the imagination; so I think it could be confusing to parents who aren't well-educated and even those who are will find the slipping into sarcasm annoying.

The second reason is more vague. I realize that what I want is beyond the scope of the book but I kept thinking there's so much more to the story. He's a Christian and that comes out in good ways but I know that as Christians how we deal with life isn't simple. There is the complexity of what do we do with this information. Homeschooling is, of course, an option and one that is hinted at but . . . I don't know . . . I keep thinking there is more to the conversation.

I should've written this review when it was fresher in mind.

It did inspire me beyond the choices I've already made as a parent, many keeping with the truths in this book but John Taylor Gatto is more readable.
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