Next book



This critique of American education offers further subversion from Postman a quarter of a century after his Teaching as a Subversive Activity. Education must have a purpose. And the traditional purposes of American schools, the old cultural ``gods,'' as Postman (Culture and Communications/New York Univ.; Technopoly, 1992, etc.) labels them, are no longer viable. According to the god of Economic Utility, for example, there is a direct link between hard work and success. Yet there is little evidence in our society to document this. In fact, states Postman, during periods of high economic productivity, standards of educational achievement were not particularly rigorous. In our current economy we cannot assume that well-paying, meaningful jobs will be available to most students upon graduation. Since 1980, moreover, the author reveals that the largest increase in jobs has been in work requiring relatively low skills. A more recent god that has failed is the god of Multiculturalism, which Postman describes as ``a psychopathic version of cultural pluralism, and, of course, extremely dangerous.'' A multicultural curriculum, he declares, is liable to distort history and fall into the hands of extremists and propagandists whose main goal is to undermine European culture. Does this iconoclastic author of 20 books find any gods left to serve? Postman does feel American education can be salvaged with much reform. Multiculturalism, for example, should be replaced with a constructive law of diversity that allows us to ``help the young transcend individual identity by finding inspiration in a story of humanity.'' Anthropology, astronomy, and archeology, fluid fields requiring analysis rather than memorization, should become major areas of study. Education would improve overnight, contends Postman, if teachers were to get rid of all textbooks. Socially, schools must create ways to engage students in the care of their own school facilities and neighborhoods or towns. A provocative and insightful assessment of and challenge to contemporary American education.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 1995

ISBN: 0-679-43006-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1995

Next book



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

Next book


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

Close Quickview