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The End of Molasses Classes    by Ron Clark order for
End of Molasses Classes
by Ron Clark
Order:  USA  Can
Touchstone, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

I have to begin this review with a confession. As someone who spent 39 years in the classroom teaching high school students, I am very skeptical of anyone who says that he or she loved teaching and students so much that he/she had to leave the classroom to improve the current sorry conditions that exits in so many schools.

Unfortunately, being the skeptic that I am, I think to myself. 'No. You left the trenches and said good-by to the youngsters to make a few bucks, perhaps sign a lucrative book contract and garnish your career as an educational innovator who sells his ideas like an old fashioned, snake-oil husker!'

So, that being said, let's proceed! The complete, jazzy title of this self-proclaimed practical, innovative, and powerful guide to methodology that will enliven classrooms and ignite a passion for learning in each and every child is The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck. 101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers.

Clark, who operates the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia, left his classroom in East Harlem, New York, where he honed his educational philosophy and approach to, as he says, 'create a revolution in our country, starting from the ground up. The heart of this change would be a school, unlike any in the world. It would be full of passion, creativity, energy, and unparalleled freedom to do whatever it took to lead every child to success.'

Frankly, Mr. Clark just about lost me here! If I had a hundred dollar bill for every time I've heard that in the years I taught I wouldn't have to be still working today even though I am now drawing my teaching pension!

Clark divides his 101 Extraordinary Solutions for unsticking kids into four general sections. They are - Rob Clark Academy's Core Principles and Values, The Role of the Parent in the Success of the Child, Creating the Right Climate and Culture, and Reaching Out Beyond the Classroom.

Within these sections you'll find tidbits and advice like - 'Treat every child as if her or she were your own', 'Know your students', 'Be Patient', 'Be Prepared for the long haul if you want your child to succeed', and 'Teach children the history and symbolism of their home and school'.

Granted, this is just a smattering of the 101 gems the author offers to turn the system around. How helpful are they? Some of them are certainly worth considering while others are truisms that sound wonderful but offer more fluff than substance.

Whether you are a parent homeschooling your child or a professional teacher, this is a book you'll want to skim over before buying. Read a few of the author's ideas (they are explained in just a few pages each) and then decide if you wish to shell out a few bucks.

If I were still in the classroom, would I buy it? No! There was nothing here I had not come across before. But that's not to suggest a first time parent or beginning teacher might not find some valuable ideas here. They might!

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