“When I first saw Graham Scharf’s title, The Apprenticeship of Being Human, it piqued my curiosity. He offers the phrase as a straightforward yet profound metaphor. If my child is my apprentice, I then am the master craftsman responsible to educate, develop and train my apprentice for a useful and successful vocation; in this case, of becoming a mature, caring, virtuous person. Graham’s skillful and persuasive writing inspires me to be a better, more reflective and intentional father. I was stunned to learn that regularly talking with my children actually develops the physical structure of their brains, not just their ability to think. Through compelling stories and revealing studies, Graham carefully builds his alarming case that parents can actually cause brain damage by failing to nurture and engage their children, or can launch them into a successful and virtuous life through attentive care. Graham is a brilliant and masterful educator who chooses to speak in plain language I could understand and embrace as a parent. I loved this book. I’ll read it again and again.”
Keith Zafren, father of 3
founder of The Great Dads Project
“If you care about flourishing and the common good, then you have to care about education. But if education is going to make a difference, we also need to be concerned about the environments from which students emerge. In other words, we need to care about the family as the matrix of culture. In this probing, suggestive book, Scharf invites you to consider why all of us–not just parents–have a stake in the social architecture of the family. This begins a very important conversation we all need to have.”
James K.A. Smith, father of 4
professor of philosophy, Calvin College,
editor of Comment magazine
“Comparing the social impact of early parenting to former Vice President Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth,’ Graham Scharf delivers a concise, pointed, and powerful call to action that is every bit as urgent. We would all do well to heed his thoughtful and heart-felt advice, that “the apprenticeship of being human” must start in the home, well before a child enters school. Once an idealistic elementary school teacher of at-risk kids in Brooklyn, Scharf eventually concludes that “the most significant role of early nurture and formal education which follows is to form the character of children.” Amen to that! I applaud Scharf and plan to draw on his compelling arguments in increasing our efforts to engage more parents earlier as true partners in the character education process.”
President & CEO of the Character Education Partnership
“The idea [of being a father] scares the heck out of me, but the opportunity to distill and communicate life’s core values is not only such an amazing opportunity, but it also serves as a way to more intimately relate to those values…as the need to teach something always brings you closer to the content. I must say, the book is the first thing I’ve come across that has gotten me truly excited about the idea of being a parent, rather than scared about it.”
Alex Forrester, new father
Co-founder & COO of Rising Tide Capital
“Graham has identified a strategic concept that transforms the way we think about people. Anyone who works with children would benefit from this thoughtful and stimulating book!”
Scott Turansky, father of 5
Author of Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids
“You can read this in an hour and a half. When you are finished reading, you’ll be sure of two things: First, Graham is passionate about early learning. His resume proves he’s done his homework. He followed his passion, and continues to do so. Second, you’ll have a clearer sense of the challenges facing education.
I’m a retired advertising executive, uncredentialed in education. But I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of “the movement” toward smarter policies here in Minnesota. At the moment, our country is blessed with some clear voices on early education: Paul Tough’s new book, the work of University of Chicago’s James Heckman and the Federal Reserve’s Art Rolnick. And, here, Graham fits right in.
The title is a huge idea that demands unpacking. Parents cannot escape their role as their child’s first teachers. As Graham sets out to explain: like it or not, acknowledge it or not, their child will learn from them. If they abdicate, their child suffers— and society suffers.
Another startling idea: We don’t just have an achievement gap. The real problem is that we have a parenting gap, and more specifically, a fathering gap. But, regardless of circumstances, some parents succeed. They instill the kind of virtue and persistence that lead to successful students, and successful citizens.This book is an easy but thought-provoking read. Our challenge, says Scharf, is to champion what good parents are doing.”
“Graham’s book comes not a moment too soon, reaching across the fences of privilege and poverty into the culture making microcosm that is the American family. By championing the honor of our youngest children and their caregivers, this important, accessible book is a must-have resource for those who are interested in the health and wholeness of our neighborhoods, schools, and communities.”
Sandra McCracken, mother of 2
Singer, Songwriter & Producer