The Buzz About the Book (v1)

This inspiring book helps us understand that all students have intrinsic motivation and ability. Cushman’s stories and examples show us how to find and unlock that capacity and help students accomplish more than they— or we—thought possible. —Ben Levin, author, How to Change 5000 Schools

A unique approach to exploring the question of how teachers can better engage and inspire today’s students. —Anthony Rebora, Education Week/Teacher

A relief and a wakeup call to anyone who worries about the apathy of today’s youth. —Daniel Greene, Education Review

If you are looking for a book that is inspiring and motivating, this is the one. This is educational reform within the four walls of your classroom! —Megan Palevich, Good Reads

Depicts all kinds of kids as deeply passionate and self-propelled learners, who don’t need adults driving them to get started, to get interested. They figure out how to be good, because they are profoundly engaged in wanting to know something. —Kirsten Olsen, author, Wounded by School

Knowing that students spend roughly ten thousand hours in high school and college combined lends debates about best teaching practices and how students learn more urgency. Kathleen Cushman and her teen collaborators present some suggestions for using those hours to students’ and teachers’ best advantage. Their answers and ideas are what make Fires in the Mind so compelling; chock-full of anecdotes, the book gives voice to the most important stakeholders in education—students. –School Library Journal

Stimulates educators to pay attention to the words, wisdom, and practical suggestions that grow out of students’ school experiences. Fires in the Mind is well documented research that grows directly from the “consumers” of our educational systems. It should be studied by teachers and used as a model for eliciting the many fires in the minds of their students. What better way to learn how to transform our practices? —Bena Kalick, Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind

As a nation we need to return our educational focus to true scholarship– beyond test scores, we need to support students to strive for excellence in their academic, artistic and civic work. In this volume Kathleen Cushman brings her celebrated collection of student voices to this crucial issue. —Ron Berger, Chief Program Officer, Expeditionary Learning Schools

A wonderful book that gave me lots of new insights about what motivates and inspires young minds. —Michael Klonsky, Director, Small Schools Workshop (in Catalyst Caucus)

No matter what stage we’re at as educators, every teacher can mine this book for many helpful nuggets to support student mastery. We can help ignite “fires in the minds” of our kids, and this wonderful book makes an excellent fire starter. –Kathie Marshall, LAUSD teacher, in Teacher Leaders Network blog of the Center for Teaching Quality

Five-star ratings on Amazon! In Fires in the Mind, Kathleen Cushman reveals that kids have lots to tell us about motivation and mastery. She skillfully draws on the collective wisdom of 160 young people, weaving together their words and insights into a vivid exploration of “what it takes to get really good at something.” It’s impossible to choose just a few highlights from this book because it’s filled with over 200 quotes from the students who participated in the Practice Project, each one contributing a valuable perspective on the journey towards expertise. —Honor Moorman, teacher

Five-star reviews on Barnes and Noble! Once again Kathleen Cushman takes the voices and insights of students and applies them to the teaching profession. Starting from the broad question of how one trains for mastery, she quickly establishes a persuasive model and then shows how it helps teachers give direction and focus to classroom work and homework. As a teacher of history for 25 years, I was especially struck by the argument for “deliberate practice” with assignments attuned to the actual needs of individual students. Throughout the book, I found gems that will also help me as a tennis coach of individuals and teams, I have already recommended this engaging book to several new teachers I am mentoring. It is a must read!

What a refreshing book! Rather than asking the timeworn question “How can we motivate these kids?” Kathleen Cushman performs a lovely act of conceptual Jujutsu and instead asks “What can the kids tell us about motivation?” The answers are smart and thoughtful and brimming with good advice. — Mike Rose, author of Why School? Reclaiming Education for All of Us

Every educator would like for students to develop a passion, but many are unsure of how to light that fire. Kathleen Cushman had the wisdom to ask students, and they tell us with clarity what motivates them and how school might be made more inspiring. Anyone who cares about schooling or children should read this book. — Daniel T. Willingham, author of Why Don’t Students Like School?

This is a wonderful book for both practitioners and policymakers. Students talk about how they practice getting better at things they love to do, applying their learning to make school more sensible, meaningful, and productive for them and their teachers. — Elliot Washor, Co-Director, Big Picture Learning

The students’ voices are amazing! They made me get so excited about the opportunities and possibilities of this work for classroom practice. The first two chapters I read seemed to lay the foundation and help the reader think differently about students and what they know and can do. They both gave me as a teacher educator much to think about, and I think it will encourage some of my students to think about things they may never have thought of before. — Shari Saunders, Dept. of Education, University of Michigan

The best school reform creates schools that kids want to go to—where learning is meaningful and engaging. This wonderful book builds on the concept that education should be “asset based” — not based on telling kids what they don’t know and can’t do. Read Fires in the Mind and connect to the voices of students about how they learn most eagerly. — Paul Houston, Executive Director, Emeritus, American Association of School Administrators

This book offers a unique window into what all educators ought to consider as vastly important: igniting the passion for learning inherent in us all. — Ronald J. Newell, author of Passion for Learning

The book is fun, inspirational and provides very specific model questions that help us know what’s on kids’ minds and what they need. These clear examples of non-judgmental questions are extremely valuable in helping teachers build new ways of connecting with their students. The chapter on homework is a masterpiece. The high school dropout rate and the incredible number of teens who are failing in our schools make this an essential book for educators. —Claire Wurtzel, the Churchill School, NYC

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