The result is more like a primer on the history of higher education than a manifesto.

READ REVIEW

BEYOND THE UNIVERSITY

WHY LIBERAL EDUCATION MATTERS

An academic’s defense of the liberal arts, as he surveys the tensions in higher education throughout American history.

During times of increased specialization, economic downturn and staggering student loans, the argument rages once again as to whether higher education is a worthy investment or if colleges should function more like trade schools, preparing students for specific jobs that would justify the tuition costs. Wesleyan University president Roth (Memory, Trauma, and History: Essays on Living with the Past, 2011, etc.) argues differently, countering that “the demand that we replace broad contextual education meant to lead to lifelong learning with targeted vocational undergraduate instruction is a critical mistake.” Furthermore, in “an age of seismic technological change and instantaneous information dissemination, it is more crucial than ever that we not abandon the humanistic frameworks of education in favor of narrow, technical forms of teaching intended to give quick, utilitarian results.” Such a conclusion is not surprising and not likely to convince skeptics, but what’s more illuminating is the context provided. The charge that higher education is elitist, out of touch and disconnected from the working world is one that Benjamin Franklin made centuries ago, and debates have continued ever since about what higher education is for and who should receive it. While underscoring the democratic spirit of a liberal arts education, one designed to produce “active citizens rather than passive subjects,” Roth traces how even the Founding Fathers of the republic restricted that education to patrician white males, excluding women, slaves and others—and that the question of whether farmers need to be able to read Shakespeare has long sparked debate. Between pragmatism and idealism, the author strikes a moderate, balanced approach.

The result is more like a primer on the history of higher education than a manifesto.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-300-17551-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

COLUMBINE

Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THE ABOLITION OF MAN

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more