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Unlearning the Ropes

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The Benefits of Rethinking What School Teaches You


“A valuable book for parents, educators, and policymakers.”

William Deresiewicz, author of Excellent Sheep

Unlearning The RopesDenise M. Bressler
00:00 / 02:29

Listen to a sample of the Unlearning the Ropes Audiobook, out now on

"Denise Bressler’s book is a comprehensive primer on the state of education and a welcome addition to the literature on what might be done about it."


Gary S. Stager, Ph.D.

Author of Twenty Things to Do with a Computer: Forward 50 - Future Visions of Education Inspired by Seymour Papert and Cynthia Solomon’s Seminal Work

As an educational researcher, Denise Bressler has spent a lot of time in today’s classrooms, and she is deeply concerned. Students are largely disengaged and unmotivated. How can that be? Learning should be a thrilling adventure, not drudgery. Drawing on established learning theories and contemporary educational research, Unlearning the Ropes demonstrates that what people are tacitly taught by school is basically backwards. For example, school teaches that good grades matter, yet good grades don’t guarantee learning. In Unlearning the Ropes, Bressler reveals the moments that changed her beliefs about education. Through relatable anecdotes, she helps readers reframe the way they think about school, education, and learning. Rethinking what school teaches is the first step towards helping young people become enthusiastic learners.


"...with a little rethinking, and a little reframing, we can stop forcing our young people's minds into boxes, and the same-sized ones at that. I highly recommend reading Unlearning the Ropes if you are in education, work with any youth, or have children of your own."


Lisbeth Ives, read the full 5star review on REEDSY

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Denise Bressler was the quintessential goody two-shoes. She was the Honor Graduate at her high school, graduated from Princeton University, and earned her Ph.D. from Lehigh University. Now, Denise is an educational researcher and reformer with a penchant for putting excessive enthusiasm into her academic writing.

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