Plenty to ponder in this forceful, solid report on the shifting climate of American higher education.

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HIGHER EDUCATION?

HOW COLLEGES ARE WASTING OUR MONEY AND FAILING OUR KIDS--AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT

New York Review of Books contributor and former university professor Hacker (Mismatch: The Growing Gulf Between Women and Men, 2003, etc.) and New York Times columnist Dreifus (Interview, 2003, etc.) present their combined “vision for higher education.”  

The authors believe that many colleges are sacrificing purpose and priority in favor of “self-interested management,” misguided professors and a disrespect (by instructors themselves) for the precious art of teaching. They cite the tenure process as one of the reasons professors appear lackadaisical and disillusioned about their craft, along with slumping salaries (“higher education knows that low-cost labor is there”) and becoming engulfed by the “multiversity” (educational “behemoths” with a much wider, unrestrained focus). Fiscally influenced collegiate leadership is partially at fault for this, the authors write, along with a tiered, hierarchy class system of instructors, a problem that Dreifus, an adjunct journalism professor at Columbia University, experienced firsthand when her prized office space was indifferently eliminated. The authors note that, compared to a generation ago, tuitions at both public and private schools have “more than doubled.” They question whether the education offered is, therefore, twice as good, especially at more esteemed Ivy League universities. At colleges around the country, Hacker and Dreifus expose poorly assessed teaching skills, a general deficiency in personal attentiveness to students and the changing landscape of degree majors and student demographics, and they offer damning commentary on the machinations of intercollegiate athletics. If their dense, comprehensive analysis has a weakness, it’s the overwhelming amount of factual information wedged into the narrative. Around these facts and figures, however, a valid argument takes shape about the problematic causes behind increasingly unaffordable college tuitions. Hacker and Dreifus effectively, and wittily, present their contemporary dilemma, and closing chapters focus on their choices for best colleges (MIT, Notre Dame, “Ole Miss” et al) alongside intelligent, practical solutions to the college conundrum.    

Plenty to ponder in this forceful, solid report on the shifting climate of American higher education.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8734-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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THE ABOLITION OF MAN

The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

COLUMBINE

Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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