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Mr. Harris is an educator and administrator in the Mt. Vernon, N.Y. public school system, and his book is a controlled but considered rebuttal of much of the unreflective and unfounded criticisms which have been levelled at the schools. Since, as he points out, there are 50,000 separately administered school districts in the U.S., with no one kind of school, and no ""fixed standard"" on what may be considered the ""mastery of a subject"", any generalized censure is meaningless. Mr. Harris' attack on the ""folklore of education"" disposes of many myths: that of the ""uniform student""-intellectual abilities and achievements vary; that of laxity-discipline by ""punishment"" is not always beneficial; that of the ""teacher"" whose image may be stern, dedicated, etc., that of our neglect of the ""fundamentals""- or again-the gifted child, the non-intellectualism in life adjustment education, or the failure of progressive education. There are many anachronisms in the financing of public education (the U.S. spends much less than it can afford) and the so-called ""public"" schools are not really free for those who attend them- many cannot meet the extracurricular expenses. In closing, he makes a general commentary on curricular planning, potential progress, but also a strong plea for the public's confidence and support.... Without the extensive field work of Martin Mayer's The Schools, and certainly less dynamic in presentation, still there is much that is sound and justified in Mr. Harris' defense of education today which has attracted more abuse than any measure of confidence- material or otherwise.

Pub Date: Aug. 18th, 1961
Publisher: Random House