by Linda Åkeson McGurk ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 3, 2017
A fascinating exploration of the importance of the outdoors to childhood development.
A Swedish woman contrasts child-raising styles in the United States and Sweden.
Growing up in Sweden, McGurk, who runs the blog Rain or Shine Mamma, spent much of the day outside, regardless of the weather. So when she moved to a small town in the Midwest and had two children of her own, she expected them to be as enthusiastic about the outdoors as she was. Unfortunately, that was not the case. This led her to wonder whether it was just in America where children have little contact with nature or if the Swedes had also turned their backs on the outdoors. When her father became ill, McGurk took her children to Sweden for six months and spent the time examining the differences in child-rearing styles between the U.S. and Sweden and, more generally, Scandinavia. The author expertly combines personal memories of her childhood and that of her children with scientific data and research to show the significant disparities in the way children interact with nature in each country. In Sweden, infants are left to sleep outside, even in cold weather (bundled up), as the fresh air is good for them. Preschoolers and school-age children have multiple recesses per day and are encouraged to engage in sledding, skiing, ice skating, and other activities, many of which are deemed too dangerous in the U.S. Scandinavian children often attend nature schools where they learn to use knives and axes, build fires, identify edible plants, and develop an awareness of their natural surroundings; this fosters a deep desire to protect and preserve these areas. The author effectively shows the many ways American parents can learn from their Scandinavian counterparts, and she provides numerous tips and techniques to help parents incorporate these ideas into their daily lives. The glossary of Scandinavian terms, from hygge to solfattig (“sun poor”), is also helpful.A fascinating exploration of the importance of the outdoors to childhood development.
Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017
Page Count: 304
Review Posted Online: July 16, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017
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by Thomas Sowell ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 4, 1993
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
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992
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by Helen Fremont ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 11, 2020
A vivid sequel that strains credulity.
Fremont (After Long Silence, 1999) continues—and alters—her story of how memories of the Holocaust affected her family.
At the age of 44, the author learned that her father had disowned her, declaring her “predeceased”—or dead in his eyes—in his will. It was his final insult: Her parents had stopped speaking to her after she’d published After Long Silence, which exposed them as Jewish Holocaust survivors who had posed as Catholics in Europe and America in order to hide multilayered secrets. Here, Fremont delves further into her tortured family dynamics and shows how the rift developed. One thread centers on her life after her harrowing childhood: her education at Wellesley and Boston University, the loss of her virginity to a college boyfriend before accepting her lesbianism, her stint with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, and her decades of work as a lawyer in Boston. Another strand involves her fraught relationship with her sister, Lara, and how their difficulties relate to their father, a doctor embittered after years in the Siberian gulag; and their mother, deeply enmeshed with her own sister, Zosia, who had married an Italian count and stayed in Rome to raise a child. Fremont tells these stories with novelistic flair, ending with a surprising theory about why her parents hid their Judaism. Yet she often appears insensitive to the serious problems she says Lara once faced, including suicidal depression. “The whole point of suicide, I thought, was to succeed at it,” she writes. “My sister’s completion rate was pathetic.” Key facts also differ from those in her earlier work. After Long Silence says, for example, that the author grew up “in a small city in the Midwest” while she writes here that she grew up in “upstate New York,” changes Fremont says she made for “consistency” in the new book but that muddy its narrative waters. The discrepancies may not bother readers seeking psychological insights rather than factual accuracy, but others will wonder if this book should have been labeled a fictionalized autobiography rather than a memoir.A vivid sequel that strains credulity.
Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019
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