THE SCHOOLS by Martin Mayer
Kirkus Star


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It is really impossible to write about the schools""- these words come close to the end of Martin Mayer's more than mansized attempt to do so. (He has spent some 30 months in observing, interviewing, reading- covered over 100 schools both here and abroad.) It is a fairly exhaustive field trip, and if it is largely a fact-finding survey, there is some criticism. Still the overall impression is heartening; education ""does improve, slowly, discontinuously"", today's college entrant, while less informed in certain subjects, knows more about the world at large. The recent Conant-Rickover dissatisfaction with the waste of talent, and their ""quest for excellence"" is disposed of; real excellence resides in the child, not the school, and will always obtain-- or- you can't keep a good man down. Mayer's study is in three sections, the first providing a background of American Education, theories and practices, that most fruitless point of discussion- ""aims"", types of schools, social influences, and the generally successful attempt to educate upward and beyond underprivileged environments. The second section deals with countless classroom demonstrations, with the details of teaching specific subjects at various age levels. A conclusion to be drawn here is that the junior high school years, those of peak achievement in France (our there later backslides) are the wasted years in the U.S. and Britain; and that specialization in the high school (as in Europe) would be more rewarding. The last section deals with testing- ""an administrative convenience"", textbooks, new techniques, tools, and the teachers themselves. In spite of the massive body of material presented, Mayer has kept his report card readable, informative. It is on the whole hopeful, mindful of the many demands placed upon the teaching profession, and respectful of the job it is doing.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1961
Publisher: Harper