This insightful, often charming book has much to offer anyone seeking to improve how learning occurs, whether one shares...

Breakthrough To Brilliance


A utopian manifesto for replacing compulsory education with self-driven, lifelong learning.

In this erudite but quixotic debut, Hamilton offers a blueprint for franchised learning centers aimed at supplanting traditional schools and revolutionizing society. Physically, her “prepared learning environment” blends elements of libraries, museums, theaters, fitness clubs, and shopping centers to create what she calls a “mall for the mind”—storehouses of knowledge categorized into 33 “loggia,” or galleries, around a central atrium. A bucolic campus features organic farming, unspoiled woodlands, dormitories for students, an inn for visitors, and cottages for seniors, who serve as mentors. Functionally, it abandons regimented classrooms, curricula, and tests that Hamilton persuasively argues suffocate youngsters’ inborn thirst for discovery. According to her plan, learners set the focus and pace of their own studies. She writes that she received this vision while observing her own two children as babies in 1968. After decades working as a teacher, earning a master’s degree in educational administration, and serving on a Tennessee state school board, she gave up on reforming the existing educational model to invent a new one. Here, she deploys a wealth of pedagogical research in the main text and a feast of on-point quotes in the margins. She skewers the status quo with clear examples, cogent analysis, and gentle humor. As she describes her alternative, her prose acquires a dreamlike quality; indeed, she paints scenes so idyllic that they may seem unattainable to readers lacking her passion. Learners “will never feel a single moment of boredom,” adolescents in the dorms “are up early and to bed early, and “ ‘Havenotness’ will become a distant memory of our culture.” Building even a single prototype appears daunting, though she makes a reasonable feasibility pitch. Imagining these centers replacing more than 129,000 K-12 schools in the United States, though, is harder. Unlike the current 98,000-plus public schools, center memberships would be conditional (“based upon training and proven mastery of the two rules of respect and order”) and available to children of all ages. Overall, though, it’s difficult to conceive of them as ever being more than luxury alternatives. For society to embrace such educational autonomy, an absence of grades and standardized credentials would seem as much a precondition for their growth as a result. Still, her remedies shed light on many current problems.

This insightful, often charming book has much to offer anyone seeking to improve how learning occurs, whether one shares Hamilton’s vision or not.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 9780983011552

Page Count: -

Publisher: Periploi Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

Did you like this book?