The Book


Unlearning the Ropes

The Benefits of Rethinking What School Teaches You


From dedicated student to educational change maker, Denise shares the experiences that transformed her beliefs about education.

“We’ve known for decades that schools are failing both students and society. And yet we keep deploying the same ‘solutions’ — more tests, more standards, more discipline — even though they never work.

In Unlearning the Ropes, Denise M. Bressler asks us to rethink our approach from the ground up. Starting with actual students — what motivates them, what they're good at, what they need — she maps a path to making school a place of learning and inspiration rather than drudgery and dread. Unlearning the Ropes is accessible, humane, thoroughly researched, and deeply thought through. A valuable book for parents, educators, and policymakers.”

William Deresiewicz, author of Excellent Sheep


Check out this sample from the audiobook!


"Unlearning the Ropes provides substantial evidence and a new perspective for bringing about change in the culture of the local school district.

Unlearning the Ropes presents examples of what meaningful learning is and how and why it is effective.

Dr. Bressler provides a fresh perspective on the chronic problems of the rigid culture in most schools and local districts, the decision-making process for determining what to teach and how to teach it, and the blind acceptance of the cookie-cutter model of grade-based education.
Unlearning the Ropes helped me to realize that teachers know what works effectively and they have access to excellent resources. The missing links are the current limitations of how we assess what students are learning, parental or community understanding and support for active and engaged learning, and leadership from school administrators."

Mr. Hank Bitten, NJCSS Executive Director

“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

Buy the Book


Must Read 

Denise M. Bressler provides valuable insight into why current schools are more cages for knowledge than places to grow and build it...the tone makes the material both approachable and accessible as well.


Unlearning as precursor to abundant new learning

In eight-plus accessible chapters, the author makes a convincing case for why and how schools merit re-imagining...this book deserves your attention because there's a good chance you're hanging onto ropes that are best unlearned.


New and exciting ideas about learning

I found this book to have new, fresh and insightful ideas...This is a great read for anyone who is involved in education/learning and also for parents looking to instill in their children a desire and love for learning.

Critical reading for parents, teachers, and other educational decision makers

The writing is clear and the author contextualizes her points well by giving examples from her experiences as a life-long learner and educational researcher. I highly recommend that parents, teachers, and anyone else involved with making educational decisions read this book!


Passionate but not preachy

Personal, instructive, and well referenced. Dr. Bressler is a cheerleader for learning...Think of this book as a behind the scenes look at School. This book gives you insight into how School can be more a place of learning and not just a place of teaching.


A must read for all educators and parents who value learning over testing

One of the most clearly written, well researched and comprehensive tribute to Progressive Education in an age when educational institutions have seemed to have lost their way.