A passionate plea for educational reform by a teacher who changed the course of a poor rural high school. Wood (Education/Ohio Univ.; Schools That Work, 1987) was ensconced in the ivory tower of academia when he was approached to serve as principal of Federal Hocking High in Stewart, Ohio. He proved to be the rare administrator who was willing to take risks; as a result of Wood’s iconoclastic methods, Hocking became one of the region’s top schools within a few years. Clearly influenced by such reformers as Deborah Meier—whose Park East Secondary School in New York City has served as a model for many educators—Wood radically changed the structure of his school and here advises such changes for all high schools. Echoing 1960s radicals, Wood condemns “the traditional mindset” of institutions that “are not concerned with the needs, interests and abilities of individuals except as they serve the mission of the institution.” The primary goal of schools, he contends, should be to create learning communities that nurture the kinds of citizens we would like to have as neighbors. Students, he believes, should strive for producing high-quality work rather than just accumulating credits; schools must be kept small, so that no child is anonymous. Fewer classes each day, held for longer periods, are crucial to realizing Wood’s vision, along with enough unstructured time to encourage the growth of student-teacher relationships. Students should be given far more decision-making power, he argues, so that they will graduate more capable of handling the adult responsibilities that will be thrust upon them daily. (In Wood’s school, in fact, students play an active role in hiring staff.) Complete with an appendix well-stocked with resources for high school restructuring, this is a somewhat utopian blueprint, but still one packed with common sense.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 1998

ISBN: 0-525-93955-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1998

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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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