A forceful analysis of the declining achievement of American students, coupled with sensible suggestions to reverse the decline. Based on research questionnaires and interviews conducted over a 10-year period with a cross-section of more than 20,000 teenagers from nine high schools, Steinberg (Developmental Psychology/Temple Univ.; Crossing Paths, 1994) contends that school reforms of the past 15 years have not accomplished anything: Today's high school graduates, he writes, are among the ``least intellectually competent in the industrialized world.'' Steinberg claims that they know less and can do less than their counterparts did 25 years ago. The majority don't strive for success, he adds; they are content to coast. The average student is ``disengaged'' from the educational process. Viewing school as a ``nuisance,'' students place it at the bottom of their list of priorities, and while physically present, they don't pay attention or work at their studies. Their social lives seem to matter far more than their education. Steinberg convincingly attributes the weakness of American students to factors outside the classroom. Among these are: parents who have little interest in their children's education; a peer culture that ``demeans academic success and scorns students who try to do well in school''; and a schedule that allows students to devote an excessive amount of time to vacuous social activities. Changing students' and parents' attitudes and behavior is vital, the author asserts, offering a series of proposals intended to make schooling the primary activity of childhood and adolescence. Striving for educational excellence, Steinberg asserts, must begin to take priority over socializing and participation in organized sports. All four-year colleges must begin to tighten their admission standards so that students are forced to take school more seriously. Steinberg and his colleagues clearly advances the current debate surrounding education. Well-researched and provocative, Beyond the Classroom is likely to challenge the assumptions of many of its readers. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-684-80008-X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1996

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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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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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