Book Review: Upside, by Bradley R. E. Wright

  • Bethany House
  • July 1
  • 256 pp.

As a teacher in America, I’m intimately aware of today’s bad news about education. “We’re falling behind other nations! We’re teaching the wrong things and with the wrong methods! We are standards crazy! We don’t have enough standards!” Indeed, I need only join a conversation with colleagues in the hallway to hear some hint of negative landscape of education news today.

Because of this, I found Bradley Wright’s Upside: Surprising Good News about the State of Our World refreshing. In this book, Wright illustrates the easily-forgotten difference between the way things are and the way things ought to be. On his chapter on education (titled “Are We Dumber than We Used to Be?”), Wright’s treatment of his topic is typical for what occurs throughout the book: despite common perception, things are getting better for more people. The chapter also includes several snapshots (“Christians Making a Difference”) of people and organization that have helped to bring these trends about.

Wright treats the following topics in Chapters 2 through 9:

  • Why we have such a negative view on the way things are (here he discusses the impact of advocates, anecdotes, short-term fluctuations, bad statistics, nostalgia, unrealistic expectations, the media, and Christians)
  • Are we worse off financially than we used to be?
  • Are we dumber than we used to be? (mentioned above)
  • Are we sicker than we used to be?
  • Are we stressed and unhappy?
  • Are crime and war on the rise while freedom and faith decline?
  • Are marriages and families declining?
  • Is the environment doomed?
I appreciate the overall message of this book: that we often confuse our idea of the way things ought to be with the way things actually are. Wright never makes the claim that things are perfect–even a lower starvation rate is still a starvation rate–but he does a great job at pointing at that, on the whole, things are improving. This book will encourage you to continue pursuing the way things ought to be while giving thanks for the work God is doing around the world.

Buy it at Amazon.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


About davestuartjr
Dave Stuart Jr. is a full-time teacher who writes about becoming better, saner teachers at He is a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband to Crystal, and a father to Hadassah, Laura, and Marlena.

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