LEARNING TO DIVIDE THE WORLD

EDUCATION AT EMPIRE'S END

The transfer, in July 1997, of Hong Kong from British to Chinese rule marked the conclusion of a turbulent era of European imperialism. However, as Willinsky (Education/ Univ. of British Columbia) eloquently argues, the colonial legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of those educated, all over the world, in geographic, racial, and cultural categories crafted by European colonialists. As a result of the discoveries of Columbus and other explorers, Europeans’ medieval worldview collapsed and a new one rose in its place. This modern perspective is with us still, Willinsky asserts. Reviewing the vigorous, often violent centuries of European imperialism, the author focuses on the European emphasis on examining, classifying, and categorizing the diverse peoples, geography, and plant and animal life of the conquered continents. “It is not hard to argue,” the author observes, “that the whole venture had about it something of a great public education project intent on bringing the world together under the roof of European learning.” Willinsky goes on to make this argument, showing that imperialist attitudes pervasively influenced the teaching of history and gave rise to such disciplines as geography (National Geographic and geography textbooks tended to treat the non-Western world as a barbaric place gradually coming under civilization’s sway, the author argues) and anthropology (which often produced scientifically credible apologia for racism and eugenics). In his survey of racist bias in language and literature, the author identifies the evident links between the emergence of English as a world language and British and American imperialism: Less evident, the author points out, are potential racist, sexist, and chauvinist perspectives embedded in English that may dominate world culture, and the often smug assumption that English’s universality is evidence of its intrinsic superiority to other languages rather than, as the author contends, an artifact of British imperialism. A thoughtful examination of the changing mission of education in a multicultural world. (11 photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8166-3076-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Univ. of Minnesota

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1998

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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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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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