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 Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015




American schools at every level, from kindergarten to postgraduate programs, have substituted ideological indoctrination for education, charges conservative think-tanker Sowell (Senior Fellow/Hoover Institution; Preferential Polices, 1990, etc.) in this aggressive attack on the contemporary educational establishment. Sowell's quarrel with "values clarification" programs (like sex education, death-sensitizing, and antiwar "brainwashing") isn't that he disagrees with their positions but, rather, that they divert time and resources from the kind of training in intellectual analysis that makes students capable of reasoning for themselves. Contending that the values clarification programs inspired by his archvillain, psychotherapist Carl Rogers, actually inculcate values confusion, Sowell argues that the universal demand for relevance and sensitivity to the whole student has led public schools to abdicate their responsibility to such educational ideals as experience and maturity. On the subject of higher education, Sowell moves to more familiar ground, ascribing the declining quality of classroom instruction to the insatiable appetite of tangentially related research budgets and bloated athletic programs (to which an entire chapter, largely irrelevant to the book's broader argument, is devoted). The evidence offered for these propositions isn't likely to change many minds, since it's so inveterately anecdotal (for example, a call for more stringent curriculum requirements is bolstered by the news that Brooke Shields graduated from Princeton without taking any courses in economics, math, biology, chemistry, history, sociology, or government) and injudiciously applied (Sowell's dismissal of student evaluations as responsible data in judging a professor's classroom performance immediately follows his use of comments from student evaluations to document the general inadequacy of college teaching). All in all, the details of Sowell's indictment—that not only can't Johnny think, but "Johnny doesn't know what thinking is"—are more entertaining than persuasive or new.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-930330-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992



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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