Advice for students and teachers rounds out a persuasive plea for creative learning.

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THE NEW EDUCATION

HOW TO REVOLUTIONIZE THE UNIVERSITY TO PREPARE STUDENTS FOR A WORLD IN FLUX

An argument for why higher education requires radical change to prepare students for an unpredictable future.

Distinguished educator Davidson (Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn, 2011, etc.), who directs the Futures Initiative at the City University of New York Graduate Center, believes that colleges are mired in 19th-century pedagogy. In an engaging, anecdotal, wide-ranging look at educational innovation, she argues that students “need new ways of integrating knowledge, including through reflection on why and what they are learning.” They must become active learners, not merely passive absorbers of lectures and rote memorizers. Davidson advocates dramatic pedagogical revisions, much like those instituted by Harvard’s president Charles Eliot in the 1880s, when he proposed a university that would prepare students for careers in an industrial age. Today’s students, writes the author, need skills to ready them for “intellectual space travel.” Davidson praises the nimbleness and flexibility of community colleges, which pioneer learning methods and institute support services (Metro cards, attentive advisers) for nontraditional students. She criticizes both technophobes who bemoan the internet and technophiles who believe computers will transform teaching. Students need digital skills and web literacy, she reasonably contends, but in the context of awareness about how technology connects to “every aspect of our political, personal, and economic lives.” Davidson cites Arizona State University as exemplary in curricular reform, where studies are connected “to community, to the cultural, physical, and socioeconomic conditions of Phoenix, Arizona, and the Southwest more generally.” Among the many educators whose ideas the author highlights is Christine Ortiz, an MIT professor and graduate school dean engaged in creating a nonprofit residential research university featuring project-based learning. Davidson sees current emphasis on STEM fields to be too focused on testing rather than real-life applications. “Youth,” she writes, “are still being graded into passivity and a state of fear by standardized classes.”

Advice for students and teachers rounds out a persuasive plea for creative learning.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-465-07972-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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