Synopses & Reviews
In John Hunters classroom, students fearlessly tackle global problems and discover surprising solutions by playing his groundbreaking World Peace Game. These kids—from high school all the way down to fourth grade, in schools both well funded and underresourced—take on the roles of politicians, tribal leaders, diplomats, bankers, and military commanders. Through battles and negotiations, standoffs and summits, they strive to resolve dozens of complex, seemingly intractable real-world challenges, from nuclear proliferation to tribal warfare, financial collapse to climate change.
In World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements, Hunter shares the wisdom hes gleaned from over thirty years teaching the World Peace Game. Here he reveals the principles of successful collaboration that people of any age can apply anywhere. His students show us how to break through confusion, bounce back from failure, put our knowledge to use, and fulfill our potential. Hunter offers not only a forward-thinking report from the front lines of American education, but also a generous blueprint for a world that bends toward cooperation rather than conflict. In this deeply hopeful book, a visionary educator shows us what the future can be.
"When it comes to an introduction about poverty and parenting in urban America, you could hardly do better than [WHATEVER IT TAKES] ."---New York Times Book Review
"This is a serious book about a pressing issue, but Tough manages to make it an easy read with a cast of sympathetic characters ... We don't know how this story will end. In the meantime, there are lessons to be learned from the Harlem Children's Zone-----about the power of an idea, the role culture plays in student achievement, accountability, the indomitable human spirit. This book should be on every policymaker's reading list."---Washington Post Book World "A remarkable book ... a story more gripping and inspiring than you'd imagine social policy could possibly be."---GQ magazine
"This unflinching book will motivate us all to take action and make our schools places of possibility and hope"---Essence magazine
"This is an engrossing look at a visionary man and a bold experiment that has caught the eye of a wide range of politicians, including presidential candidate Barack Obama, who has promised to replicate the program throughout the U.S. if elected." --- Booklist (starred review) "Smoothly narrated, affecting and heartening, this book gives readers a solid look at the problems facing poor communities and their reformers, as well as good cause to be optimistic about the future."--Publishers Weekly
"Outstanding literary nonfiction, distinguished by in-depth reporting, compelling writing and deep thinking."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "I wish every city had a Geoffrey Canada. As Paul Tough shows so vividly in Whatever It Takes, Canada is a man of integrity and heart who knows what it takes to ensure that every child has a fair shot in life. His vision of a renewed Harlem community, and his accomplishments toward achieving it, attest to the power we all have to overcome poverty and hopelessness in America."--President Bill Clinton "At once a warm and immaculately reported piece of journalism and a nearly complete overview of the contemporary educational debate. A massive accomplishment, and pretty much mandatory reading for anyone working in urban education — or anyone interested in the future of our democracy." - Dave Eggers, co-founder of 826 National and author of Teachers Have It Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America's Teachers "Paul Tough shows, from the inside, how the nation's most important work gets done." - Adrian Nicole Leblanc, author of Random Family "Paul Toughs clear-eyed portrait of Geoffrey Canada offers the most cogent, provocative and original thinking on urban poverty to come along in many, many years. Whatever It Takes pushed me to question what I thought I knew. Powerful and hopeful, disturbing and daring, its one important book. Essential even."—Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here "This is not just a gripping story of one mans heroic attempt to pull an entire neighborhoods worth of children up by their bootstraps. Its also a wise and expansive chronicle of a living, breathing science experiment. In Whatever It Takes, Paul Tough takes on one of the biggest questions going: how do you teach people to be successful?"—Stephen Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics "Geoffrey Canadas work is a model for the nation. Whatever It Takes is a moving account of his commitment to giving Harlems children access to the same dreams as children in New Yorks most privileged neighborhoods."—Marian Wright Edelman, President, Childrens Defense Fund "Whatever It Takes" is easily the most compelling and potentially the most important book on the problem of poverty in urban America in years. Paul Tough has a sharp eye for the telling detail, a sure grasp of the literature, and a gift for storytelling that together make for a bracing narrative, hard-edged in its realism but also brimming with hope and possibility. Not to be missed."--Michael Pollan "Whatever It Takes is a must-read for any American committed to solving our nation's greatest social injustice—the fact that in a country that aspires so admirably to be a land of equal opportunity, the socioeconomic circumstances into which you are born still determine your opportunity in life. In describing the groundbreaking efforts of Geoff Canada and the Harlem Children's Zone, Paul Tough deepens our understanding of the problem and of the only viable path for solving it."—Wendy Kopp, CEO and Founder, Teach for America "This is a fascinating book. The question of whether these terribly disadvantaged kids will fail or succeed takes on all the nail-biting urgency of any high-stakes, novelistic thriller. But the dangers here are all too real, the risks are cruel, and the victories feel as unlikely as they are magnificent." —Elizabeth Gilbe "Paul Tough is a lucid, engaging storyteller, and his account of this visionary man in Harlem changed my understanding of poverty in America in the most surprising way: it made me feel hopeful."—Ira Glass
"A veteran educator's uplifting account of how he introduced schoolchildren to global problems through a visionary game that charged them with saving the world . . . Inspired, breath-of-fresh-air reading." — Kirkus Reviews
"At a time when school systems have completely lost focus on what really matters, John Hunter reminds us what we should be teaching our children. His ideas will help anyone who has the courage to understand that a real education must go beyond filling in circles on a standardized test form." — Rafe Esquith, author of Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire
"John Hunter's World Peace Game is more than a brilliant example of educational game design. It shows us exactly how to inspire and manage creative collaboration around the most complex problems imaginable. And given that virtually all young people today are growing up gamers, this book is a must-read for twenty-first century educators and leaders." — Jane McGonigal, author of Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
"Hunter's optimism is infectious" — Publishers Weekly
"With numerous reflections on the games impact on certain students and a resounding final chapter highlighting his classs 2012 visit to the Pentagon, Hunter proves the value of “slow teaching” in this important, fascinating, highly readable resource for educators and parents alike." — Booklist
What would it take?
That was the question that Geoffrey Canada found himself asking. What would it take to change the lives of poor childrennot one by one, through heroic interventions and occasional miracles, but in big numbers, and in a way that could be replicated nationwide? The question led him to create the Harlem Childrens Zone, a ninety-seven-block laboratory in central Harlem where he is testing new and sometimes controversial ideas about poverty in America. His conclusion: if you want poor kids to be able to compete with their middle-class peers, you need to change everything in their livestheir schools, their neighborhoods, even the child-rearing practices of their parents.
Whatever It Takes is a tour de force of reporting, an inspired portrait not only of Geoffrey Canada but of the parents and children in Harlem who are struggling to better their lives, often against great odds. Carefully researched and deeply affecting, this is a dispatch from inside the most daring and potentially transformative social experiment of our time.
Geoffrey Canada created the Harlem Children's Zone, a 97-block laboratory in central Harlem, to help change the lives of poor children. Tough presents an inspired portrait of Canada and the parents and children who are struggling to better their lives, often against great odds.
Award-winning teacher and high-profile public speaker John Hunter offers insights into conflict resolution and collective problem-solving gleaned from his many years teaching kids through the "world peace game," an innovative global systems simulation he created.
About the Author
A native Virginian and graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, JOHN HUNTER is an award-winning teacher and educational consultant. Hunter led his first sessions of the World Peace Game at Richmond Community High School in 1978. Since then, he has taught the game successfully in a variety of settings, from public schools in Virginia and Maryland to a session with Norwegian students sponsored by the European Youth Initiative. He has spoken at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Googles Palo Alto campus, the Pentagon, the United Nations, and elsewhere. His March 2011 TED talk was greeted with a standing ovation, and Arianna Huffington and Chris Anderson named it the No. 1 talk of TED 2011.