Overly detailed at times, but an impassioned insider narrative about American education.

SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT

WELL-ROUNDED EDUCATION IN THE LANDS OF OPPORTUNITIES

A teacher offers personal commentary in his exploration of various types of U.S. schools.

This is an unusual book: It presents a lengthy record of a teacher’s own experiences with the American education system as a basis for an examination of public, private, charter, and cooperative schools. The author appears to have a unique background for an educator, as indicated in the “scholastic resume” he includes at the beginning: He attended both public and private schools, some parochial and some charter, and held a variety of positions, primarily as a substitute teacher, at public, private, parochial, charter, and cooperative schools. He also continues to work as a tutor, which adds another dimension to the story. In an opening “letter,” Felton (Tommy Wrought, 2015) suggests he wrote this volume to assist parents in evaluating and selecting appropriate schools for their children, yet as the book unfolds, it seems that teachers and administrators might actually be a more suitable audience. The sheer amount of specifics associated with the description of each school and every classroom experience, including discussions of teaching methodologies and materials, may only excite a professional educator. Still, the author’s firsthand observations of various types of schools are not without broader appeal. Also enticing, if a bit too flowery at times, is Felton’s expansive, engaging writing style and a strong storytelling element that makes the book read like a memoir. This autobiographical approach considerably enhances the content, but at times it can be unnecessarily detailed, particularly when the copious, lengthy footnotes overwhelm the text itself. The volume opens with a lovely, heartfelt tribute to an instructor “without whom there would no ‘Mr. Felton,’ ” evidence that the author was inspired to teach at a young age. The book then breaks into chapters, several of which address particular types of schools: parochial, public, private, charter, single sex, cooperative, and immersion (multilingual/multicultural). In each of these chapters, the author uses his own direct experiences with the type of school to comment on it, adding a very personal touch to the content. For example, Felton shares the surprising fact that he has been both a student and teacher at Hebrew, Roman Catholic, and Quaker parochial schools but has “never belonged” to any of these religions. The final two chapters concentrate more specifically on the author’s experiences as a tutor, substitute teacher, and, ultimately, a “lead” teacher. He observes that all of these roles allowed him to view and understand the educational process from significantly different perspectives. Felton’s glowing appraisal of his most recent school position is intriguing as a contrast to some of his less desirable employment situations; however, delving into the fine points of the curriculum may simply be too much for average readers to bear. Despite these occasional informational transgressions, the book exudes an enthusiasm and respect for education as a calling that are hard to ignore.

Overly detailed at times, but an impassioned insider narrative about American education.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2018

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 378

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2018

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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