Are teachers resourceful, industrious, and dedicated—or uninspired, pessimistic, and unwilling to be held accountable? All of the above, of course, as this balanced collection of impressions from Los Angeles Times writers Collins and Frantz (From the Ground Up, 1991, etc.) makes clear. The authors interviewed close to 150 teachers in 70 schools around the country on a variety of pertinent subjects—''Children,'' ``Parents,'' ``Discipline,'' ``Respect,'' ``Trade Secrets''—and have come up with insightful, if unsurprising, conclusions. Teachers in general, Collins and Frantz find, are committed and hard-working but stymied—by unresponsive bureaucracies, large class size, diminished school budgets, and changes in society that add other jobs to the teaching load. Many feel a sense of mission (``I believe in the sun, even when it doesn't shine'') and work despite constant hurdles and the prospect—or experience—of violence (a particularly chilling chapter). In addition, most regret how little they're consulted, not only about school policies but also on academic issues like bilingual education and curriculum content. Collins and Frantz, as well as many teachers, believe that the top-to-bottom management style, based on the 19th-century factory model, no longer applies, and that teachers must assume new roles and renegotiate the school scenario, turning education into a ``shared enterprise,'' with parents and other staff included in the decision-making process. Candid observations, presented in a satisfying and serviceable format.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-316-29266-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1993

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.


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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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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