Real Education

With four simple truths as his framework, Charles Murray, the bestselling coauthor of The Bell Curve , sweeps away the hypocrisy, wishful thinking, and upside-down priorities that grip America's educational establishment. Ability varies. Children differ in their ability to learn academic material. Doing our best for every child requires, above all else, that we embrace that simplest of truths. America's educational system does its best to ignore it. Half of the children are below average. Many children cannot learn more than rudimentary reading and math. Real Education reviews what we know about the limits of what schools can do and the results of four decades of policies that require schools to divert huge resources to unattainable goals. Too many people are going to college. Almost everyone should get training beyond high school, but the number of students who want, need, or can profit from four years of residential education at the college level is a fraction of the number of young people who are struggling to get a degree. We have set up a standard known as the BA, stripped it of its traditional content, and made it an artificial job qualification. Then we stigmatize everyone who doesn't get one. For most of America's young people, today's college system is a punishing anachronism. America's future depends on how we educate the academically gifted. An elite already runs the country, whether we like it or not. Since everything we watch, hear, and read is produced by that elite, and since every business and government department is run by that elite, it is time to start thinking about the kind of education needed by the young people who will run the country. The task is not to give them more advanced technical training, but to give them an education that will make them into wiser adults; not to pamper them, but to hold their feet to the fire. The good news is that change is not only possible but already happening. Real Education describes the technological and economic trends that are creating options for parents who want the right education for their children, teachers who want to be free to teach again, and young people who want to find something they love doing and learn how to do it well. These are the people for whom Real Education was written. It is they, not the politicians or the educational establishment, who will bring American schools back to reality. Twenty-four years ago, Charles Murray's Losing Ground changed the way the nation thought about welfare. Real Education is about to do the same thing for America's schools. From the Hardcover edition.

Reviews from

Write a review (you'll need to sign in to your Goodreads account or sign up) (showing 1-10 of 76)
By Vincent (The United States) · ★★★★★ · September 21, 2008
I was in the bookstore on Saturday, saw that Charles Murray had put out a new book, and said, "Dammit," because I knew I HAD to read it and therefore shell out $25 for it.

He discusses four truths of contemporary American education. I think his first two truths (ability varies; half of all childre... ...more
By Bojan (Greencastle, IN) · ★★★★★ · May 21, 2011
Charles Murray is one of the best known researchers and writers on various public policy topics. He is oftentimes maligned due to the fact that many of his positions and arguments fly in the face of the popular wisdom and challenge some of our most cherished prejudices. In the case of education,... ...more
By Billie (Murray, KY) · ★★★☆☆ · August 23, 2014
I have mixed feelings about Charles Murray's Real Education, although I think he's partially right. The subtitle of the book is Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality. Here are his four simple truths. The first basic truth is that ability varies. This is undoubtable, I... ...more
By Seth (The United States) · ★★★★☆ · January 28, 2011
Murray has not cowered since his inflammatory IQ arguments in the mid 90's. Here, Murray argues that educational romantics are harming the least academically gifted children and the most academically gifted ones by ignoring inherent abilities. He cleverly uses Multiple Intelligence theory to argu... ...more
By Mike (Houston, TX) · ★★★★☆ · December 05, 2008
Good book, easy read (though I imagine easy to hate--very interested in reading some negative reviews). I don't think there is much I disagree with. Too many people go to college. And four years is too long. Teach kids lots of facts in k to 8th. Give smart people a chance to fail. ...more
By Leah (Buffalo, NY) · ★★★★★ · February 21, 2010
This was the first book to really get me thinking about what our students really need. It sparked a passion. Great book, separated into 4 main sections, and backed by data and facts. ...more
By Kate (The United States) · ★★★★☆ · January 21, 2014
I agreed with Murray's overall assessment with the failure of modern education (the goal of college and an office job for all, the lack of liberal arts education at all levels, the current requirements for the job world), but I do have two major complaints regarding this treatise:

1. His argument... ...more
By Nancy (NE) (Omaha, NE) · ★★★★☆ · September 17, 2010
I applaud so much of what Charles Murray has to say about the current education system in the United States. He doesn't hold back criticism and offers concrete ideas. He is grounded and not romantic about the problems faced by students, parents and teachers.

He has four main suppositions:
1.) Abil... ...more
By Katie (The United States) · ★★★★☆ · June 12, 2012
It's slightly alarming to agree with Murray, but there it is.

Real Education outlines why our educational system doesn't work and how we can fix it. However, it's not your usual "schools are underfunded" or "teachers are not trained well" or "teachers' unions prevent real change" (the list could g... ...more
By Alex (Madison, WI) · ★★★★☆ · May 25, 2014
“The problem with our schools isn’t standards or choice or teacher quality. The problem with our schools isn’t money or poverty. The problem with our schools is our expectations, and the pointless demands we make of kids who don’t want to and/or can’t do the work.” – educationrealist

"There were 9... ...more