An imaginative take on teaching sure to inspire controversy.



An award-winning educator proposes radical changes.

Emdin (Mathematics, Science, and Technology/Teachers College, Columbia Univ.; Urban Science Education for the Hip-Hop Generation, 2010)—associate director of Columbia’s Institute for Urban and Minority Education and recipient of a Multicultural Educator of the Year award from the National Association of Multicultural Educators—brings considerable expertise to his revisionist views on educating urban students. “Many urban youth of color,” he writes, liken schools to jails, “oppressive places that have a primary goal of imposing rules and maintaining control.” He blames educators who fail to recognize their students’ “complex connections” and “particular way of looking at the world. Identifying urban youth of color as neoindigenous,” he maintains, allows us to understand their feelings of “marginalization, displacement, and diaspora.” For these neoindigenous students, he has devised a “reality pedagogy,” drawn largely from Pentecostal churches and hip-hop culture, which aims to meet students on their own “cultural and emotional turf” and create ways to engage them in learning. Basic to his approach are the “Seven Cs,” including the creation of “cogenerative dialogues,” where students in groups of four become advisers to the teacher on classroom management and content; coteaching, where students take responsibility for imparting course material; cosmopolitanism, in which each student has responsibility for full citizenship in the classroom; awareness of students’ contexts, the better to make connections between their lives and course content; and competition, where the hip-hop battle popular in urban communities is transformed into a Science Battle. Students need to understand, writes Emdin, “that the academic rap battle is not an attempt to co-opt their culture, but an opportunity to bring their culture into the classroom.” That distinction blurs in some cases, such as when he advises one teacher to buy the sneakers her students proudly wear to generate a “rich dialogue” about fashion choices.

An imaginative take on teaching sure to inspire controversy.

Pub Date: March 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0640-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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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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