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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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1996

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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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