This book gives teachers and parents strong talking points when approaching boards, politicians, and government agencies...

OPINIONS OF A MAVERICK EDUCATOR

LESS TRAVELED PATHS THAT FOSTER STUDENT GREATNESS

From the Educating for Human Greatness series , Vol. 2

An educator argues for an investment in a new kind of public school.

Stoddard (Educating for Human Greatness, 2010, etc.) spent 25 years as a public school teacher and principal. As political winds begin to favor the expansion of charter schools, this self-proclaimed “maverick” wishes to turn standardized education on its head. Instead of forcing students to perform according to a proscribed array of academic standards, he believes children should be judged by their own customized sets, based on their unique talents: “If the purpose of education is to develop quality human beings, we may better understand why we need a system that uses subject-matter content to develop human qualities.” Children, he writes, “thrive when treated as individuals, but they rebel, drop out, bully, become apathetic, or even commit suicide when we ignore their personhood and try to standardize them like machines.” While the author offers no apology for his unfavorable assessment of the American educational system, he asks for readers’ patience when they spot the recurrence of key ideas. Since many of the 38 chapters consist of newspaper editorials that Stoddard wrote while pitching his concepts to the public, he repeats himself frequently. But his plainspoken, journalistic style makes the book a quick read. His audience should immediately grasp his love of teaching and sincere desire to make schools—and, by extension, society—better places. Unfortunately, the work lacks concrete instruction on how to make these changes happen—that is, what exactly communities should do to get approval from state and federal governments to redesign public schools. To readers anxious to enact his principles, Stoddard advises, “Press for your freedom, as specified by the Tenth Amendment, to develop a local school system that encourages and supports teachers.” Ultimately, this worthy volume should not be read by itself but rather as an accompaniment to the author’s preceding work, which offers more in-depth suggestions.

This book gives teachers and parents strong talking points when approaching boards, politicians, and government agencies with appeals for changes in public schools.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 134

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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