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Empowering the Child: Nurturing the Hungry Mind

“Empowering the Child … is truly one of the most inspirational, hopeful, convincing, and insightful books on what needs to happen in education that I have read.”

Barbara L. McCombs, Senior Director, Mid-continent Regional Educational Library

About this book

In his book, Empowering the Child: Nurturing the Hungry Mind, Dr. Raymond H. Hartjen addresses an increasingly troubling premise: Our schools, entrenched in a cumbersome educational system now wholly out of date, cannot adequately prepare today’s children for the demands of the 20th century.

Faced with the challenge of looking at educational reform from a new perspective, Dr. Hartjen turned to exploring dimensions other than educational research for insights into a larger picture of the possibilities that could exist for educating our next generation of children as they emerge into the twenty-first century.  He found exciting insights in unexpected sources, such as the psychologist Rollo May, the anthropologist Richard Leakey, and the humanist Erich Fromm.  At the cutting edge of modern scientific thought, he found a new organizing principle for what might be considered a philosophy of education for the twenty-first century in Waldrop’s Complexity.

Those who have read the book state that it is like reading a well written mystery …”it reads well and it’s hard to put down.”

This thought-provoking book contains many vignettes drawn from Dr. Hartjen’s experiences living at the edge of educational change.  Its easy style calls for it to be read by everyone concerned with looking for meaningful solutions to the problems we face in educating our  youth today, a youth that represents an emergent human being who will be faced with resolving the social, technological and emotional problems of living in the twenty-first century.  Surprisingly, the solutions found were all not new but instead had years of experience to their credit.

Raising such questions as: what distinguishes us as human beings and how can we improve on our humanity, how can we capitalize on the natural inquiry skills of the preschool child as he/she enters school, and what changes are necessary in schools to make self-initiation a part of a child’s learning experience, Dr. Hartjen gets to the very heart of what a child’s education should really entail.

His approach is that of an explorer, mining the rich resources of contemporary thought.  The noted anthropologist Richard Leakey’s book Origins Reconsidered, not only yields distinguishing insights of what factors contribute to our humanity, Leakey also provides an amazing insight into what makes humans so intelligent.
Problems troubling contemporary educators, such as motivation and discipline, are easily reversed in this educational environment where a child’s education is through self-initiated learning.  Here the focus of discipline is transferred from teacher control to that of a self-directed student.

This visionary book on the school reform/restructuring movement is a must-read for professionals and lay persons alike.  Within its pages, Dr. Hartjen looks at the real possibilities that exist for the education of our youth.  Exploring modern contemporary thought,, Dr. Hartjen has discussed new cogent arguments for seriously reconsidering the dimensions of education. You may not agree with his point of view, but you owe it to yourself to be aware of the new insights generated by this author’s explorations.

Empowering the Child … is written in language that even the most casual layperson interested in learning, at home or in school, can understand the very powerful principles involved. This isn’t just a book for educators, but one for all people interested in learning. I would think parents, in particular, might appreciate it.”

- Samuel W. Corsi, Jr., Assistant Commissioner, NY State Department of Education

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