A passionate but poorly argued call for educational reform interspersed with illuminating anecdotes.




A teacher with a 34-year career describes his ideas for education reform as well as his experiences in the field.

Warren lists his experiences as a schoolteacher, paints what he sees as the public perception of American education and offers what he thinks would be effective solutions to the problems facing teachers, students and parents. The anecdotes aren’t well organized, but they do give a cumulative sense of how hard it is to effectively deal with lazy administrators, manipulative or troubled kids and constantly shifting governmental demands. In his best stories, Warren, a veteran teacher, explains strategies he found useful, such as befriending secretaries and janitors and congratulating students on their hall-wandering abilities as a way of motivating them to get to class. Forwarded e-mail-style interludes, constant references to popular culture and attacks on figures from Warren’s past are less compelling. Throughout the book, the author comes across as slightly unsympathetic to parents, policy makers and educational administrators, who are portrayed, with only a few exceptions, as traitors to the cause of education. Instead of a complicated ecology of needs and abilities, the book makes the world of education seem as if it revolves around teachers who receive a special calling for their work. Every time a colleague can’t manage the responsibilities of the position or leaves for a more lucrative career in another field, Warren takes it as proof positive of teachers’ holy mission and superiority. Warren blasts public critiques of schoolteachers without much substantive response other than suggesting teachers are underpaid and the job itself is very difficult. These are facts, but they fail to point the way toward solutions for the real problems in American public education, and Warren’s suggestions—such as immediately doubling teachers’ pay and reducing the class size to 10 students per class—are not realistic. As a document of a single teacher’s experience with educational bureaucracy—a voice largely absent from the present debate over education—the book is useful. But it is hampered by its uneven tone and bias.

A passionate but poorly argued call for educational reform interspersed with illuminating anecdotes.

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2009

ISBN: 978-1440134005

Page Count: 251

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

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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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