of her investigations.
This is a fascinating book that, despite its extensive research, is not a difficult read. For Clark, it was her daughter’s struggle to navigate the pressures of the senior years at an Australian high school that provided the springboard for a general critique of the way children are taught. This is an ambitious goal and, to be honest, I approached the book with some scepticism: would it simply be a finger-pointing exercise to explain her daughter’s difficulties and, in particular, would it be an excuse to give teachers and educators yet another kick?
It is to Clark’s credit that she pre-empted a sceptic such as me. In careful, appealing and approachable language, she explains exactly why she believes the way we measure success in education is fundamentally flawed.
“Come with me,’’ she tells her readers, I’ll tell you all about it.”
And she does. She tells me all about it. And just when I feel myself rankle with a silent retort to a controversial proposition, again she preempts me with explanations that are clear and informed, as she combines facts and figures with anecdotes and personal asides. ‘‘and Beautiful Failures: How the Quest for Success is Harming Our Kids By Lucy Clark Ebury Australia, 300pp, $34.99
It is a difficult task to produce a book that will deliver at once to readers with little knowledge of the education system apart from the fact they themselves once went to school; to the parents or supporters of a child trying to manage the final years of their education; and also to the informed educator. As with the best of teachers, Clark’s success lies in her ability to first set down the foundation of her argument and then steadily build on it so, by the end of the book, the uninformed become well-informed and the well-informed even better informed.