After 35 years in academia, Anderson (Senior Fellow/Hoover Institution) gives a cri de coeur about what's gone so dreadfully wrong with the American university: Academic intellectuals, he says, have ``betrayed their profession'' and, within the halls of academe, ``integrity is dead.'' Strong charges, but Anderson does nothing if not back them up with facts, figures, and plenty of common-sense observation. Part of the problem is simply in quality-control: Between 1960 and 1975, the number of those attending college ``almost tripled, an increase of some 8 million students,'' and in the rapid hiring of faculty to teach these hoards of new students, ``there has been a slow but significant decline in the average quality of academic intellectuals.'' Add to this what Anderson calls ``hubris'' (the ``unchecked intellectual arrogance'' that leads academics to believe themselves above the rules that govern other people); and add to that the transformation of universities from what were ``rather small, quiet, dignified institutions of rarefied scholarly pursuits and the teaching of a select few'' into huge and ``sophisticated megabusiness machines''—and the stage is set for deterioration and trouble. Like bound apprentices of medieval times, graduate students ``teach'' (Anderson calls it ``children teaching children'') so that professors can produce still more research for their own institutional gain—most of it ``inconsequential and trifling''—while real education lags. Academics, says Anderson, ``begin by lying to others, and end up lying to themselves.'' Empty research, padded budgets, poor teaching, tenure-protected faculty who claim academic impartiality but in fact judge politically, corporate-style image management— all of this, overseen by boards of trustees who know little about education, makes for ``a recipe for disaster, a witch's brew of incompetence, timidity, and neglect.'' There may be bones to pick here, but few will be unimpressed by a veteran insider's faithful-oppositionist view of the intellectual shambles our universities seem to have become.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 1992

ISBN: 0-671-70915-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1992




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



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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