SMART SCHOOLS, SMART KIDS

WHY DO SOME SCHOOLS WORK?

A cogent and insightful report by the education correspondent of The New York Times on the creative solutions that some of America's schools are bringing to the nation's education stalemate. Of the several surveys of American schools that have appeared in recent months, this is by far the most lucid and readable. Distilling the reasons for the deterioration of what was once a smoothly functioning system, Fiske says that, in essence, a 19th- century institution is trying to prepare people for life in the 21st century. Vision, leadership, and a total overhaul of the educational system—all are part of his solution. The author has visited school districts across the country in search of innovative programs that work. His list includes many of the usual suspects- -mini-schools in New York City's District 4; school-based management in Dade County, Florida; the revamped Kentucky state school system; the organic approach of the Key School in Indianapolis—plus others not so well known. The experiments, with flaws and virtues, are presented through the very personal and often eloquent reports of students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Here also is a chapter on computers in the classroom that doesn't simply laud their potential, but is specific about what computers, used properly, can do to free both students and teachers to think and to ask questions. A book important for everyone from the ``education President'' to parents of preschoolers who are facing 12 years of difficult choices about their children's learning.

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 1991

ISBN: 0-671-69063-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1991

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

COLUMBINE

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 ABOLITION OF MAN

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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