Yet another call to retool the American classroom, but this time preceded by a thoughtful review of the historical forces at work in the schools. Philadelphia-based RÇnyi is the director of CHART (Collaboratives for Humanities and Arts Teaching). When public schooling took hold in the US a little more than 150 years ago, the immigrant poor were not expected to finish the six or eight years of education available. It was assumed they would quickly drop out and go to work. According to the author, when education through high school became compulsory—generally after WW II—it ignited confusion and controversies that continue today. RÇnyi explores many of those issues, ranging from the Protestant religious tradition that helped to mold public schools through the dilution of the curriculum and the ``bland pudding'' of present-day textbooks to the attention-getting squabbles over bilingual education and multiculturalism at every level of education. Her careful examination of the radical changes in types of immigrants and patterns of socialization shows that earlier waves of immigrants were not only more closely attuned to the German/British style of education but were not expected to benefit fully from public education until the second or third generation. RÇnyi finds that new immigrants—and African-Americans—bring to schools a determined ethnicity that is unwilling to blend into the mythic melting pot. The argument over multicultural vs. traditional education is, the author says, ``...class warfare disguised as ideology.'' Nevertheless, she holds that a broad umbrella of traditional values—liberty and justice among them—can encompass a multitude of cultural reference points, teaching styles, and resources without relinquishing rigorous standards. A sometimes moving, sometimes illuminating, but often unfocused commentary—one that wants to de-emphasize ideology and that applauds the skilled, imaginative teacher tuned into the potential of curious children, whatever their ethnic backgrounds.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1994

ISBN: 1-56584-083-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1994

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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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