In Nagging for Success in City Journal, I review David Whitman’s book on paternalistic, transformative schools, Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism.
“Nagging is love,” I used to tell my daughter. “I am a much-loved child,” she’d reply. And so it is: if you care about a kid, you tell her what she’s doing right and what she’s doing wrong. You stick with her when she makes mistakes. You honor her successes. You nag. . . . To give disadvantaged students a shot at college and mainstream success, (Whitman) argues, schools must teach “not just how to think but how to act according to what are commonly termed traditional middle-class values.”
My book, Our School, which makes a lovely and thoughtful holiday gift, is about a charter high school that sweats small, medium and large stuff to prepare students to succeed in college.