Review Blog

Sep 27 2019

The art of growing up by John Marsden

cover image

Macmillan, 2019. ISBN: 9781760556723.
(Age: 16+) Recommended. John Marsden is well known for his passion for the education of young people as well as his determination to put his ideas into action by establishing two schools. His writing packs a punch. Additionally, his book provides an insight into the thoughts and beliefs that are the foundation for his schools.
More than half his book reflects on parenting styles. This is uncomfortable reading as John relates, in detail, interactions had with parents over decades of teaching. One can't help but wonder about the possibility of there being communities where the parents described will not be quite so anonymous.
A range of labels have been applied to parents in recent years (helicopter, tiger, bulldozer, curling) and there is extensive discussion the consequences of these styles of parenting in the book that is not adequately supported by research evidence.
However, this book does invite discussion about parenting styles and the kinds of supports readily available to parents and children experiencing complex contexts. Furthermore the issues of bullying and schooling that fosters self-regulation and creativity as touched on in this book provide fuel for conversation and a search for supporting research. While challenging and contentious, John, through his book is making it clear that being a parent is an important and life changing role.
Linda Guthrie

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