The anecdotes are uplifting, but the authors are not persuasive about the ease of adapting these schools’ strategies to...




The authors contend that learning how to learn is the most essential skill for 21st-century students.

“Deeper Learning” is the term education advisers Martinez and McGrath (The Collaborative Advantage: Lessons from K-16 Educational Reform, 2005, etc.) use to describe the educational goals they advocate. “Deeper Learning,” they write, “is the process of preparing and empowering students to master essential academic content, think critically and solve complex problems, work collaboratively, communicate effectively, have an academic mindset, and be self-directed.” It’s hard to imagine any school system arguing against these laudable aims, but the authors assert that most American schools fall short of achieving them. Setting Common Core State Standards, they believe, is a step in the right direction, but implementing those standards has been challenging, and they serve as only “one element” in getting students to acquire the knowledge and skills they need. The authors cite eight schools that have met the goals of Deeper Learning, including the Avalon Charter School in St. Paul, Minnesota; Impact Academy of Arts & Technology, a charter high school in Hayward, California; Science Leadership Academy, a magnet high school in Philadelphia; and High Tech High, a charter school in San Diego. These schools represent diverse ethnic and economic populations but are “slightly smaller than the norm” for American high schools. Indeed, with all having fewer than 600 students, the schools selected are far smaller than high schools in many U.S. cities, which serve thousands. Six chapters show how each school meets Deeper Learning goals: establishing collaborative learning communities; fostering students’ self-direction; contextualizing and integrating subjects; taking education outside of the school and into the community; motivating students to discover their own interests; and incorporating technology to enhance learning.

The anecdotes are uplifting, but the authors are not persuasive about the ease of adapting these schools’ strategies to larger, financially strapped settings.

Pub Date: June 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59558-959-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.


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

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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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