Thursday, August 5, 2010

"The Report Card", by Andrew Clements

Clements harks back to his recent success, "No Talking", by having school students whip up another rebellion against the teaching establishment. This one challenges the significance of grades and how they make students feel about themselves, i.e., dumb or smart, depending on the outcome. It also poses questions about the validity of rote memorization and standardized testing. The protagonist, Nora, is an extremely academically gifted child who has managed to hide her gifts until now, and she did so because she wanted to seem normal and on par with everyone else, not elevated to a position of "better and smarter" than everyone else. She finds a confidant in the school's librarian, who helps Nora see that her public challenges and her gifts are important in their philosophy, but are not the right way to address these issues. The librarian suggests that Nora focus on discovering how she can use her talents to make things better when and as she grows up. Nora also finds out that the teachers often feel frustrated with the system as she does, but she realizes that there have to be standards that work as best they can for the whole, diverse population. Once again, Clements on his education soap box - a great little book with thoughts to ponder.

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