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Remember the days of longing for the hands on the classroom clock to move faster? Most of us would say we love to learn, but we hated school. Why is that? What happens to creativity and individuality as we pass through the educational system? Walking on Water is a startling and provocative look at teaching, writing, creativity, and life by a writer increasingly recognized f Remember the days of longing for the hands on the classroom clock to move faster? Most of us would say we love to learn, but we hated school. Why is that? What happens to creativity and individuality as we pass through the educational system? Walking on Water is a startling and provocative look at teaching, writing, creativity, and life by a writer increasingly recognized for his passionate and articulate critique of modern civilization. This time Derrick Jensen brings us into his classroom--whether college or maximum security prison--where he teaches writing. He reveals how schools perpetuate the great illusion that happiness lies outside of ourselves and that learning to please and submit to those in power makes us into lifelong clock-watchers. As a writing teacher Jensen guides his students out of the confines of traditional education to find their own voices, freedom, and creativity. Jensen's great gift as a teacher and writer is to bring us fully alive at the same moment he is making us confront our losses and count our defeats. It is at the center of Walking on Water, a book that is not only a hard-hitting and sometimes scathing critique of our current educational system and not only a hands-on method for learning how to write, but, like Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, a lesson on how to connect to the core of our creative selves, to the miracle of waking up and arriving breathless (but with dry feet) on the far shore.


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Remember the days of longing for the hands on the classroom clock to move faster? Most of us would say we love to learn, but we hated school. Why is that? What happens to creativity and individuality as we pass through the educational system? Walking on Water is a startling and provocative look at teaching, writing, creativity, and life by a writer increasingly recognized f Remember the days of longing for the hands on the classroom clock to move faster? Most of us would say we love to learn, but we hated school. Why is that? What happens to creativity and individuality as we pass through the educational system? Walking on Water is a startling and provocative look at teaching, writing, creativity, and life by a writer increasingly recognized for his passionate and articulate critique of modern civilization. This time Derrick Jensen brings us into his classroom--whether college or maximum security prison--where he teaches writing. He reveals how schools perpetuate the great illusion that happiness lies outside of ourselves and that learning to please and submit to those in power makes us into lifelong clock-watchers. As a writing teacher Jensen guides his students out of the confines of traditional education to find their own voices, freedom, and creativity. Jensen's great gift as a teacher and writer is to bring us fully alive at the same moment he is making us confront our losses and count our defeats. It is at the center of Walking on Water, a book that is not only a hard-hitting and sometimes scathing critique of our current educational system and not only a hands-on method for learning how to write, but, like Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, a lesson on how to connect to the core of our creative selves, to the miracle of waking up and arriving breathless (but with dry feet) on the far shore.

30 review for Walking on Water: Reading, Writing, and Revolution

  1. 4 out of 5

    Meredith Holley

    When I was between the ages of seven and eleven, my father was particularly ready to start a militia and secede from the union. I say "particularly" because in one way or another he's always been a little paranoid and iffy on the subject of loyalty to his citizenship (except when republicans are elected to any office, then you are guarantied to see him sporting his American flag suspenders). My parents "home schooled" me for a few years (quotation marks indicate that you could take out the word When I was between the ages of seven and eleven, my father was particularly ready to start a militia and secede from the union. I say "particularly" because in one way or another he's always been a little paranoid and iffy on the subject of loyalty to his citizenship (except when republicans are elected to any office, then you are guarantied to see him sporting his American flag suspenders). My parents "home schooled" me for a few years (quotation marks indicate that you could take out the word "school" and the phrase might be more accurate), when not putting me in various, sometimes experimental, private schools, so I have a colorful educational background. I always loved learning, as Derrick Jensen would say we all do, but I loathed the educational circus that was my childhood. I say all this because I have a deep mistrust of people who, like my father, are excessively suspicious or critical of civilization. Jensen is one of these people, and so I am sorry to say that I am absolutely persuaded by every argument I have heard him make. He positively has me ready to march out and overthrow the global economy. My first exposure to Derrick Jensen was at the University of Oregon's Public Interest Environmental Law Conference last year. My vegan friend and my noble-savage friend took me to hear him as a keynote speaker. When the girl introducing him to the standing-room-only audience and said something to the effect of, "Don't stampede out of here when you hear his crazy ideas. We need extremists like Jensen to make the rest of us look normal" I sighed and braced myself for chanting and rhyming gibberish (in Eugene that kind of thing, unfortunately, is not completely uncommon). Instead, I met this hilarious, kind, thoughtful man, who I believe is truly trying to help people - and not in a patronizing, rich-American kind of way, either (pet peeve of mine). He's obviously doing the things he does because he understands that making us better helps him. To give you an idea of the lecture he gave when I saw him, this youtube clip shows a small section of the beginning of the lecture, when he gave it elsewhere. In this clip he describes the original script for the movie Star Wars: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwhL4L... . Walking On Water is primarily about Jensen's experiences as a writer and writing instructor at a prison and a university in Washington state. Those experiences are really only the frame, though, in which he presents his criticisms of the American educational system, where Jensen says we are trained to submit ourselves to a society that turns us into slaves and masters. This book is what I wished Lies My Teacher Told Me would have been. Rather than focus on the details of misinformation in textbooks and the politics of the educational system, which bogged down Loewen's complaint against public education, Derrick Jensen tackled the larger problem of the systems in which we live. This book doesn't necessarily deal with all of the larger issues Jensen typically talks about, but I read it because it's . . . ummm . . . how shall I phrase this? It's about six hundred pages shorter than his other books. It seemed like a good place to start. The thing that really makes me impressed with Jensen's writing and speaking is that I think he deeply believes in the destructiveness of industrialized civilization, and he is honestly fighting to save the things he loves. One of the points he made in the lecture I heard was that people used to get their food from forests and rivers, so we would fight to the death to protect forests and rivers. Now we get our food from supermarkets, so we will fight to the death to protect supermarkets and let the forests and rivers that actually provide the food be destroyed by the systems that created the supermarket. I mean, it's just true. They change the deli section at a grocery store and there's a public outcry from the same people who laugh at the major destruction of ocean mammal life. And I'm no different. The things I don't know or understand that are deeply important to the survival of the human race are staggering. I'm not willing to abandon civilization entirely, but I'm definitely a believer, if only from the arguments of Derrick Jensen, in the evils of industrialism.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kate Savage

    This is a book about the education system with little bits of writing advice thrown in. Jensen follows the tradition of pedagogical cranks and visionaries like Ivan Illich and Jacques Ranciere in the idea that schools exist primarily to teach submission. For Jensen, of course, this is just part of the beast of Industrial Civilization destroying the liveable earth. But suddenly, in between salmon die-off statistics, you've got a helpful tip about writing dialogue. Even if Jensen isn't the best wr This is a book about the education system with little bits of writing advice thrown in. Jensen follows the tradition of pedagogical cranks and visionaries like Ivan Illich and Jacques Ranciere in the idea that schools exist primarily to teach submission. For Jensen, of course, this is just part of the beast of Industrial Civilization destroying the liveable earth. But suddenly, in between salmon die-off statistics, you've got a helpful tip about writing dialogue. Even if Jensen isn't the best writer, his advice is clear and useful (including "The Most Important Writing Exercise," which is shaking out your hands and stretching them into double raised middle fingers to the world). But you know when you're reading, say, Malcolm Gladwell, and you start to feel a tension in your spine, a bitterness at the back of your throat, a mild headache? I call the feeling "the Smarm Heebie-Jeebies." It happens when someone is absolutely certain they're right about the world and writes a book to prove it. Jensen's ideas are more interesting than Gladwell's, but I get the feeling nonetheless, because the SH-Js aren't ideological, they're aesthetic. All of this point-proving and self-certainty shapes writing, and I don't like that shape. ***NOTE: Derrick Jensen is publicly transphobic (for the "radical feminist" reasons). This book doesn't deal with those issues as far as I could see, but all the same I don't recommend buying any book by Jensen, or otherwise financially supporting him. I know that a lot of writers have messed up personal lives, and I'm fine with disconnecting their art from that -- but the problem for me is that Jensen's transphobia isn't personal: he's made it very public, and it hurts people I care about.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Brent

    I borrowed this from the LIBRARY! at the behest of SteviePeace. I began reading it at around 1AM on a Tuesday morning. I didn't put it down until I had finished it - when the sun was high over the North End. I then wandered around my low-rent apartment mumbling to myself and hoping Derrick Jensen would stop by so I could hug him. You get the picture. I love this book. It's a quick read and it's powerful. Derrick Jensen shows beautifully how education, politics and writing are inextricable in the m I borrowed this from the LIBRARY! at the behest of SteviePeace. I began reading it at around 1AM on a Tuesday morning. I didn't put it down until I had finished it - when the sun was high over the North End. I then wandered around my low-rent apartment mumbling to myself and hoping Derrick Jensen would stop by so I could hug him. You get the picture. I love this book. It's a quick read and it's powerful. Derrick Jensen shows beautifully how education, politics and writing are inextricable in the mind of the writer. I've read a dozen how-to guides on writing. This is the only one I value. I've read several dozen anarchist analyses of this commercial world. This is in my top 10. This book is funny, honest and revolutionary. Read this book, rock your face off, and pass it on to a friend.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    When I was in grad school, I taught two freshmen writing courses. Teaching those classes was a requirement, but no one bothered to teach us how to teach. Bear in mind this was a prestigious university. My students were paying thirty thousand dollars a year in tuition to sit in a room and watch me flail. I dreaded every class. I wish I’d read this book back then. Derrick Jensen is like an amalgam of every Inspirational Teacher you’ve ever seen in a movie. Only he’s not full of shit. This is a book ab When I was in grad school, I taught two freshmen writing courses. Teaching those classes was a requirement, but no one bothered to teach us how to teach. Bear in mind this was a prestigious university. My students were paying thirty thousand dollars a year in tuition to sit in a room and watch me flail. I dreaded every class. I wish I’d read this book back then. Derrick Jensen is like an amalgam of every Inspirational Teacher you’ve ever seen in a movie. Only he’s not full of shit. This is a book about teaching and a book about writing and a book about how to teach writing. It’s about learning how to question authority and realizing that sometimes the authority in question is you.

  5. 5 out of 5

    John

    I received this book at our honeymoon, and years ago I read Jensen's A Language Older Than Words, which I found interesting but not entirely convincing. I suppose that's true in a certain way with Walking on Water, though I liked it much better, on the whole. The center of this book is Jensen's experiences teaching creative writing at Eastern Washington University and at a prison--in many ways, we could see this book as primarily about teaching creative writing and about writing itself. Around th I received this book at our honeymoon, and years ago I read Jensen's A Language Older Than Words, which I found interesting but not entirely convincing. I suppose that's true in a certain way with Walking on Water, though I liked it much better, on the whole. The center of this book is Jensen's experiences teaching creative writing at Eastern Washington University and at a prison--in many ways, we could see this book as primarily about teaching creative writing and about writing itself. Around this center, he critiques education as it's often executed (echoing in many ways John Taylor Gatto), and certainly that informs his views on teaching. In short, he finds education to be a stifling exercise in beating down the creativity, individuality, and independence of students, and he reacts against this by encouraging all of these things. He implements a grading system based as simply as possible on effort, refusing to grade his students' writing. Even in his critiques of their pieces, he focuses on praising and encouraging the writer's strengths rather than criticizing the perceived faults. Much of his class, however, isn't about writing--it's about discovering the self, interrogating the self, pondering the world, as students get to know themselves and each other. There's a good deal in this book that's challenging to conventional understandings of education, and as such it's difficult to accept it entirely, but also impossible for me to dismiss out of hand. Jensen has important things to say about education, not just about creative writing.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kaspar

    It was the right book at the right time for me. If you are or want to be an educator, it might be the right book for you too.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brimate

    this is a great book. a quick read, even though it's nonfiction. i read it in just a few days, which is fast for me. it helps that it's short. it makes me excited to become a teacher, and has given me lots of ideas. and though i'm not a writer, it makes me want to write. it also makes me hate school even more than i already do, and question whether i really should teach. this book uses humor and creativity to discuss the role of teachers, how fucked-up institutional education is, and some rules for this is a great book. a quick read, even though it's nonfiction. i read it in just a few days, which is fast for me. it helps that it's short. it makes me excited to become a teacher, and has given me lots of ideas. and though i'm not a writer, it makes me want to write. it also makes me hate school even more than i already do, and question whether i really should teach. this book uses humor and creativity to discuss the role of teachers, how fucked-up institutional education is, and some rules for writing. this is a unique approach to teaching and writing, and i expect to read it again when i am becoming a teacher. jensen also gave me other books to read about teaching. i also want to read bell hooks' books about education. Walking on Water is inspiring! I can now cross off another Jensen book from my to-read list.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Absolutely best book for English teachers looking to change the system. Beautiful, inspiring, and novel.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Marisa Vandyke

    This book was awesome. It sparked my creativity in ways that no other book has done. I want to read it again soon!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Eireann

    Probably my favorite contemporary text on teaching.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Wish I had read this while doing my Creative Writing MA. Still, much food for thought.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Colin Baumgartner

    I like many of Jensen’s ideas about techniques which encourage students to think and grow “into themselves”. I enjoy his rebellious spirit and his perspective on many things in life. Jensen is clearly very good at building rapport with his students and pushing them toward growth. One thing that I am skeptical of is his hatred of schooling. He rails against public schools. It seems to me that he chooses not to think very hard about how and why schools are organized as they are. Certainly modern sc I like many of Jensen’s ideas about techniques which encourage students to think and grow “into themselves”. I enjoy his rebellious spirit and his perspective on many things in life. Jensen is clearly very good at building rapport with his students and pushing them toward growth. One thing that I am skeptical of is his hatred of schooling. He rails against public schools. It seems to me that he chooses not to think very hard about how and why schools are organized as they are. Certainly modern schools aren’t arranged in the ideal manner, but some amount of standardization seems like a necessary evil—just on a practical, greatest good for the most people sort of level. Jensen also doesn’t seem to realize that because he is teaching upper level students, he can afford to challenge the system and mix things up in his classroom. I have some difficulty imagining him “never teaching grammar” to a classroom full of angry 15-year-olds that don’t know how to write a complete sentence. I’m getting off track here, because I do really like the inspiring message Jensen offers about teacher as supporter of student learning rather than cause of it. I really love his ability to help students feel and think more deeply. I suppose in the end, sometimes to be really radical and come up with some good ideas, he does need to gloss over some things... Eager to try some of his ideas in my own writing lessons.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    I thought Jensen was a bit pretentious for most of the book. I'm not sure I got very much out of it. The anecdotes about his students were entertaining though, and it was interesting comparing student experiences in a small university to student experiences in a prison.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kammie

    Enjoying the authors stories of his classroom lectures! Excited to try a few in my high school Business Communications class!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Wang

    I read this book for my humanity class and I end up really like this book. This book gives me new thoughts and views and really inspiring.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jodie Schram

    First book I’ve read in a long time, which I have instantly wanted to reread!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Vikki Ott

    Stunningly gorgeous book that will help me deepen my “Why?” questions and more critically examine the nature and motivations of the industrialized world and those that support them.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Noah Nathan

    Good book makes you think Good book. He is an English professor and also teaches in a prison. He shares writing strategies to make you a better writer.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Clivemichael

    Useful reflections, well organized lucid, provocative, entertaining and emotionally dynamic prose.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Milos Pazilov

    Thought provoking!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Adam Fletcher

    (This review is quoted on the book's back flap.) One of the most important components of both education and activism is contextualization. As Paulo Freire argued, learning must be rooted in the context in which education takes place. For a sixth-grader in the US, that would be their local community; for a elderly person, that might be their family. For Derrick Jensen, that place was in classrooms at a university and a maximum security prison, where he was taught creative writing to Washington sta (This review is quoted on the book's back flap.) One of the most important components of both education and activism is contextualization. As Paulo Freire argued, learning must be rooted in the context in which education takes place. For a sixth-grader in the US, that would be their local community; for a elderly person, that might be their family. For Derrick Jensen, that place was in classrooms at a university and a maximum security prison, where he was taught creative writing to Washington state college students and prisoners convicted of robbery, rape, and murder. In this book Jensen shares stories from those places as a guise and guide for the larger lessons, both hinted at and carefully detailed throughout this book. The lessons here are truly revolutionary. "As is true for most people I know, I've always loved learning. As is also true for most people I know, I always hated school. Why is that?" With this opening line, Jensen begins a more-than-casual assault on traditional schooling, railing on everything from classroom seating arrangements to grading; from teaching methods to attendance. The lessons here a resonant of the teachings of both John Holt and John Taylor Gatto, the latter of whom Jensen credits greatly, and they give anecdotal meaning to some of the wisdom of by Grace Llewellyn and William Upski Wimsatt. Through his lessons, Jensen gives substance and validity to many peoples' feelings of alienation and disconnectedness in school, and offers a brilliant guide to creative writing along the way. Jensen writes, "Throughout our adult lives, most of us are expected to get to work on time, to do our boss's bidding...and not to leave till the final bell has rung. It is expected that we will watch the clock, counting seconds till five o'clock, till Friday, till payday, till retirement, when at last our time will again be our own, as it was before we began kindergarten, or preschool, or daycare. Where do we learn to do all of this waiting?" The answer, of course, is school. School is the "day-prison" where we learn to be "a nation of slaves." He then follows this daring declaration with another story from his prison experience, where he created "an atmosphere in which students wish to learn...", which included asking both prisoners and college students to be uncomfortable in their search for meaning through writing. Throughout this book Jensen includes several useful writing tips that offer a unique twist to this book: while a significant diatribe against historical approaches to education, it provides useful methods for self-education and learning through life. Ultimately Jensen achieves Freire's challenge of sharing with students the goal of "reading the word through the world," and in that is Jensen's greatest success. This book is vitally important to any person seeking inspiration for learning outside the lines, both for its practical advice, and for the fact that it is coming from a seasoned educator. I believe that it can also be important to young people particularly, because through his intelligent, accessible thinking, Jensen acknowledges what many youth believe: school isn't relevant to young people today because teachers can't be relevant to learning today. They just don't know how. However, more importantly, Jensen himself disproves that, and may actually inspire young readers to look into places of higher education for the vital allyship and mentorship that adult educators can potentially offer. As Jensen ponders the weight of the world throughout the book, including wrestling with conservatism, hopelessness and apathy, war, and many other feelings, he leaves readers with a challenging thought that easily summarizes the motivation of this book, and lends this book its essentialness in the activist library: "There is much work to be done. What are you waiting for? It's time to begin." It is time to begin. Thank you, Derrick Jensen, for giving us a roadway to get started.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nate Jordon

    Another amazing book, or should I say manifesto, from our modern-day Thoreau. An investigation into American industrial civilization and education, and the repercussions thereof. Of the many highlights I could share, here is a few: "Here is what I do know: I hate industrial civilization, for what it does to the planet, for what it does to communities, for what it does to individual nonhumans (both wild and domesticated), and for what it does to individual humans (both wild and domesticated). I ha Another amazing book, or should I say manifesto, from our modern-day Thoreau. An investigation into American industrial civilization and education, and the repercussions thereof. Of the many highlights I could share, here is a few: "Here is what I do know: I hate industrial civilization, for what it does to the planet, for what it does to communities, for what it does to individual nonhumans (both wild and domesticated), and for what it does to individual humans (both wild and domesticated). I hate the wage economy, because it causes – forces is probably more accurate – people to sell their lives doing things they do not love, and because it rewards people for harming each other and destroying their landbases. I hate industrial schooling because it commits one of the only unforgivable sins there is: it leads people away from themselves, training them to be workers and convincing them it’s in their best interest to be ever more loyal slaves, rowing the galley that is industrial civilization ever more fervently – enthusiastically, orgiastically – to hell, compelling them to take everything and everyone they encounter down with them. And I participate in the process. I help make school a little more palatable, a little more fun, as students are trained to do their part in the ongoing destruction of the planet, as they enter the final phases of trading away their birthright as the free and happy humans they were born to be for their roles as cogs in the giant industrial machine, or worse, as overseers of the giant factory/enslavement camp we once recognized as a living earth. Doesn’t that make me, in essence, a collaborator? Hell, drop the in essence." - Derrick Jensen - "Mathematics, science, economics, history, religion, are all just as deeply and necessarily political. To believe they’re not – to believe, for example, that science (or mathematics, economics, history, religion, and so forth: choose your poison) describes the world as it is, rather than acting as a filter that removes all information that does not fit the model and colors the information that remains – is in itself to take a position, one that is all the more powerful and dangerous because it is invisible to the one who holds it." - Derrick Jensen -

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    ah mr. jensen. if i were an aspiring writer what i wouldn't do to take a class from you. [maybe i'd even be willing to go to prison] as a fellow educator it is quite easy to get distracted or disheartened in the classroom so this was a perfect end of the semester read. as a fine art teacher i feel so lucky that my classes are under 25 students so that i, too, can implement the kind of discussion and discourse than jensen so wonderfully illustrates. who wouldn't argue that our system needs fixing ah mr. jensen. if i were an aspiring writer what i wouldn't do to take a class from you. [maybe i'd even be willing to go to prison] as a fellow educator it is quite easy to get distracted or disheartened in the classroom so this was a perfect end of the semester read. as a fine art teacher i feel so lucky that my classes are under 25 students so that i, too, can implement the kind of discussion and discourse than jensen so wonderfully illustrates. who wouldn't argue that our system needs fixing [or revolution]. and i was particularly interested in jensen's take on our own culpability for participating in the system. something i have long contemplated. i am often asked by my students what they need to do to be a good artist. and my response is always work hard. they often ask what they should do to get a good grade and again i say work hard, try new things, take risks, make mistakes. many times they look at me quizzically and want a formula for how to get an "A". and this sums up what is wrong with our society and school system. jensen masterfully explains his take on this situation and what he's done to combat it. my only peeve. i am certainly a creative thinker, a problem solver, sometimes you could categorize me as bordering on revolutionary :). i always enjoyed school. i never hated it. sure i hated specific teachers or assignments or situations in school. but the idea of school. being open to learning - being taught anything and everything in multiple ways was ALWAYS interesting to me. i think jensen goes a bit too far in his laments about school. while i can certainly see his point it feels like a reach - an attempt to say - look ! i'm cool ! i hated school ! it does suck ! we all hated school ! in some ways this feels like the easy way out. we are not all conditioned to be slaves via the educational system. there ARE ways around that - it need not be the ONLY result of institutional education. but revolution? i'm all for it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nick Mather

    I recently had a prolonged epiphany regarding teaching, the environment, western civilization and the sense of self. The experience left me determined to change the way I teach. Even before my night of revelations, I was trying to think of ways to make my classes more experiential. This is my attempt to offer a true educational experience, one where I empty students out and give them the tools to learn on their own rather than fill them up with facts and dates. I try to get them engaged in the w I recently had a prolonged epiphany regarding teaching, the environment, western civilization and the sense of self. The experience left me determined to change the way I teach. Even before my night of revelations, I was trying to think of ways to make my classes more experiential. This is my attempt to offer a true educational experience, one where I empty students out and give them the tools to learn on their own rather than fill them up with facts and dates. I try to get them engaged in the world around them, to act and to be true to themselves. My goals, it would seem, run counter to the standard (and I use that word intentionally) American educational system. It is a continuous battle and it is exhausting. The first learned of Derrick Jensen about 24 hours prior to reading this book. I heard a half hour selection of one of his talks on the radio and was intrigued. I did some research on some of his books and this one, Walking on Water, immediately caught my attention as it discusses his experiences of teaching to different groups of students. It is a critique of the American educational system, and culture. It is a very personal book, not at all academic, and a quick read. While Jensen does offer some suggestions on how not to teach, he never offers a list of things to do to teach properly. Instead, he does what any good writer, or teacher, does, and that is he shows. He wants teachers to think about what they are doing, to question their assumptions, and to get students to question their assumptions and help students find their passions. While I do wish there was some better practical advice in the book, I know that is not possible for what Jensen is trying to argue. His point, I believe, is that it is up to me, the instructor, to approach my teaching from a place of daring honesty. That's the only way we will save educational in our society and in turn, the world.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Judith

    Whatever else Derrick Jensen may be, he's a very good writer. The whatever else includes opinionated, with touches of arrogance and a dollop of self-righteousness. But he means well, I think. That's a bit harsh, actually. He had a lot of very good points, and wrote a lot of things I agree with. What I wasn't particularly crazy about were his stereotypes. He makes a fairly big deal out of his accepting everyone for who they are, and then smugly lists numerous examples where he succeeded in converti Whatever else Derrick Jensen may be, he's a very good writer. The whatever else includes opinionated, with touches of arrogance and a dollop of self-righteousness. But he means well, I think. That's a bit harsh, actually. He had a lot of very good points, and wrote a lot of things I agree with. What I wasn't particularly crazy about were his stereotypes. He makes a fairly big deal out of his accepting everyone for who they are, and then smugly lists numerous examples where he succeeded in converting students to his point of view. He falls into the trap of 'everyone should be allowed to have their own opinion, not their teacher's. Except it can't be Biblical, because the Bible is obviously silly, and it can't be any kind of traditional opinion, because obviously all traditions are bad unless I happen to like them.' It's a common trap that most writers fall into. So: it was worth the read, there were some good thoughts about teaching, what it should be about, and how he applied his ideas in the classroom. I somehow don't think he'd like my assessment that he's more like other English professors than he thinks - my experience with them is that they always use their classes as a soapbox for their political opinions, which are always fashionably liberal, and he is no exception. Oh well. Keeping that in mind, it was an interesting read nonetheless.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jude Li-Berry

    Jensen has a stylized manner of writing -- carefully clipped sentences with build-in suspense. It's highly rhetorical by the seeming lack there-of. All rhetorics aim to manipulate, yet there is still a difference: personally I prefer the overtly rhetorical writing, rather than those that show off by not showing off. I also wish Jensen had come out at the very beginning with the issue of Work With The System or Against The System, rather than beating around the bush all the way till the last two Jensen has a stylized manner of writing -- carefully clipped sentences with build-in suspense. It's highly rhetorical by the seeming lack there-of. All rhetorics aim to manipulate, yet there is still a difference: personally I prefer the overtly rhetorical writing, rather than those that show off by not showing off. I also wish Jensen had come out at the very beginning with the issue of Work With The System or Against The System, rather than beating around the bush all the way till the last two chapters. The best points the book made it made in the last 20 pages: 1. The point on our society being a society of 'Immature Slaves' is right-on, for the relationship between freedom & responsibility is highly relevant today. 2. Size matters. In smaller group, openness & gentleness have a better chance; once the group/community reaches a certain size, Power rules. Think industrialization. 3. Commitment brings its own geniuses (per quote from W.H. Murray). IF you think the current system is untenable, abandon & sally forth. Staying inside the burning house and ask 'But where is the alternative?' makes a burned corpse of you. People tend to prefer the evil known, sometimes over the bliss potential, a potential that will never be if you can't let go of the known evil that is killing you and the whole world.

  27. 5 out of 5

    سارة العاصي

    What I knew that schools are not fun or aim to educate me as my perception is that education cannot be at any way the false stuff they teach me at schools I want to be taught useful things why they didn't teach me how to know my self and be the real me. This book is a wonderful one that states clearly that schools are part of the power tools to make people know who have power and how we must treat them no matter if they work for our good or not. This is the real life and this is what we honestly What I knew that schools are not fun or aim to educate me as my perception is that education cannot be at any way the false stuff they teach me at schools I want to be taught useful things why they didn't teach me how to know my self and be the real me. This book is a wonderful one that states clearly that schools are part of the power tools to make people know who have power and how we must treat them no matter if they work for our good or not. This is the real life and this is what we honestly don't need to be something useful that is really want to add to life. I realized that what I really need is to walk on the water and try to figure out who am I and what I can do. أدركت بعد قراءة هذا الكتاب(المترجم بعناية) أنني لم أتعلم ما أحتاجه فعلا. تأكدت من إحساسي بأنه لا ضير أن أكره المدرسة و طريقة المؤسسات التعليمية في توصيل ما يطلقون عليه مهارات أساسية للحياة. ربما أعجبني الكتاب لأنه أكد على تفكيري بأن أهم ما أحتاجه لن أحصل عليه من النظم التعليمية التي مازلت أنخرط في خيوطها و التي دائما ما أمنت أنها جزء مهم من النظام و ركن مؤثر للغاية في تأكيد السيطرة على عقول البشر. ما أحتاجه هو السير فوق الماء و تجريب ما أرادوا تأصيله في هذه النظم بأنه من المستحيل فلأجرب ربما وجدت شيئا ربما استطعت فعل أي شيء. و السلام إن كان ما زال خيارا متاحا.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    One of the best books I've read about education that does a very good job of interweaving well-made arguments against industrial education and narratives illustrating what it means to be taught by a highly perceptive humanist (Jensen) who cares deeply about his students, even those primarily concerned with the next DVD they're going to buy. I deeply enjoy Jensen's perceptions, thoughts and writing (I've now read three of his books). I'm giving "Walking on Water" four stars instead of five only be One of the best books I've read about education that does a very good job of interweaving well-made arguments against industrial education and narratives illustrating what it means to be taught by a highly perceptive humanist (Jensen) who cares deeply about his students, even those primarily concerned with the next DVD they're going to buy. I deeply enjoy Jensen's perceptions, thoughts and writing (I've now read three of his books). I'm giving "Walking on Water" four stars instead of five only because I would have liked him to have more fully addressed how we might make education better. The model that comes to mind is Malcolm Gladwell's take on America's educational system in a fine New Yorker piece that ran earlier this year. In it, Gladwell marshals plenty of evidence to show that the quality of teachers is what largely determines the quality of students. He shows this in a more systematic way than Jensen does. Nevertheless, Jensen's book is essentially the delivery vehicle of the thoughts, perceptions and humanity of a high-quality teacher, not to mention thinker. In this way, I suppose, the four starts amounts to a mere quibble.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Jensen's advice on writing is top-quality. First, his perspective makes sense: since most people know how to tell a story - that is, to share what they love, therefore most people know how to write. The main trick is maintaining that liveliness on paper, which brings us to Jensen's first rule of writing: don't bore the reader. His illustration of what it means to show, not tell is also superior. I feel pleased, by which I mean to say I feel as though my head has landed on a soft pillow, a wide sm Jensen's advice on writing is top-quality. First, his perspective makes sense: since most people know how to tell a story - that is, to share what they love, therefore most people know how to write. The main trick is maintaining that liveliness on paper, which brings us to Jensen's first rule of writing: don't bore the reader. His illustration of what it means to show, not tell is also superior. I feel pleased, by which I mean to say I feel as though my head has landed on a soft pillow, a wide smile has streaked across my face, and the tension in my neck is being knotted out like silly putty firmly squished in the hands. Okay, so I'm not a great writer, but Jensen's not bad. In the midst of illustrating how he teaches writing, he chalks the paragraphs full of his own life philosophies, and in the process, shows the connection between great writing and great living. Who are you? What do you love? And what do you want? If you can answer these questions, then according to Jensen, you should probably be writing.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Abbey

    this fantastic book is about jensen's views in the teaching world. i wish i had him as a professor. "the people in my class, including me, do not need to be taught. we need simply to be encouraged, to be given heartm to be allowed to grow into our own hearts. We do not need to be governed by external schedules nor told what and when we need to learn, not what we need to express, but instead we need to be given time, not as a constraint, but as a gift in a supportive place where we can explore wha this fantastic book is about jensen's views in the teaching world. i wish i had him as a professor. "the people in my class, including me, do not need to be taught. we need simply to be encouraged, to be given heartm to be allowed to grow into our own hearts. We do not need to be governed by external schedules nor told what and when we need to learn, not what we need to express, but instead we need to be given time, not as a constraint, but as a gift in a supportive place where we can explore what we want and who we are, with the assistance of others who care about us also. this is true not only for me and for my students, but for all of us, including our nonhuman neighbors. we all so want to love and be loved, accept and be accepted, cherished, and celebrated simply for being who we are. and that is not so very difficult" (p 213)

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