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A soundly encouraging guide for college students to think deeply and for as long as it takes.

Bain (History and Academic Affairs/Univ. of the District of Columbia; What the Best College Teachers Do, 2004, etc.) taps into the experiences of dynamic, innovative individuals to tease out how their college experience shaped them.

The author does not present much groundbreaking material, but his interviews with Nobel Prize winners, professional athletes and entertainers and well-regarded educators and researchers demonstrate the many vital approaches a student can bring to their college experience. Bain writes with clarity and modulated enthusiasm about intrinsic motivation, adaptive experts and the necessity of invention and the importance of mindfulness. He convincingly argues for the significance of a liberal education—“engaging in dialogues that brought their own perspectives to bear yet tested them against the values and concepts of others and against the rules of reason and the standards of evidence”—but what really piques Bain’s interest is the act of immersing oneself in any activity that ignites true passion. Creativity comes to those who become “lost in something other than themselves.” The experiences of successful students are certainly burnished by exposure to the length and breadth of a liberal curriculum, but they are spurred by awe and fascination. The best students seek the meaning behind the text, its implications and applications, and how those implications interact with what they have already learned. To think in so rich and robust a way as Bain describes—“trying to answer questions or solve problems that they regard as important, intriguing, or just beautiful”—is an aspiration of the first order.

A soundly encouraging guide for college students to think deeply and for as long as it takes.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-674-06664-9

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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American schools at every level, from kindergarten to postgraduate programs, have substituted ideological indoctrination for education, charges conservative think-tanker Sowell (Senior Fellow/Hoover Institution; Preferential Polices, 1990, etc.) in this aggressive attack on the contemporary educational establishment. Sowell's quarrel with "values clarification" programs (like sex education, death-sensitizing, and antiwar "brainwashing") isn't that he disagrees with their positions but, rather, that they divert time and resources from the kind of training in intellectual analysis that makes students capable of reasoning for themselves. Contending that the values clarification programs inspired by his archvillain, psychotherapist Carl Rogers, actually inculcate values confusion, Sowell argues that the universal demand for relevance and sensitivity to the whole student has led public schools to abdicate their responsibility to such educational ideals as experience and maturity. On the subject of higher education, Sowell moves to more familiar ground, ascribing the declining quality of classroom instruction to the insatiable appetite of tangentially related research budgets and bloated athletic programs (to which an entire chapter, largely irrelevant to the book's broader argument, is devoted). The evidence offered for these propositions isn't likely to change many minds, since it's so inveterately anecdotal (for example, a call for more stringent curriculum requirements is bolstered by the news that Brooke Shields graduated from Princeton without taking any courses in economics, math, biology, chemistry, history, sociology, or government) and injudiciously applied (Sowell's dismissal of student evaluations as responsible data in judging a professor's classroom performance immediately follows his use of comments from student evaluations to document the general inadequacy of college teaching). All in all, the details of Sowell's indictment—that not only can't Johnny think, but "Johnny doesn't know what thinking is"—are more entertaining than persuasive or new.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-930330-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

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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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