Illuminating, if quirky at times; insightful, eye-opening observations about the interplay of teachers and students in the...

Born to Learn

A TRANSACTIONAL ANALYSIS OF HUMAN LEARNING

A refresher course in Transactional Analysis emphasizes its application in the classroom.

Transactional Analysis was invented by psychiatrist Eric Berne and then popularized in his classic book, Games People Play, originally published in 1964. Stapleton (De-Gaming Teaching and Learning: How to Motivate Learners and Invite OKness, 1979), a retired professor, acknowledges Berne’s contribution by providing a salient overview of TA principles, including ego states and “OKness,” in the early chapters of this book. The focus of the content, though, is on applying TA to “the total learning process” in this volume, updating material that appeared in Stapleton’s previous work. While the author suggests his new book could apply generally to organizations and businesses, it seems most relevant to educators. Four of the eleven chapters concentrate on such specifics as classroom layouts, teaching methods, tests, grading, classroom management, and classroom games. The psychology behind classroom games is particularly intriguing; “classrooms are inherently Gamey,” writes Stapleton, “because of the natural presumption that students need teachers to help them, which more or less creates a Drama Triangle situation.” Perhaps most enticing is the author’s description of the “Classroom De-Gamer,” a “roulette”-type device he created to effectively spread out student anxiety. Students spin the De-Gamer’s arrow to randomize being called on. With the De-Gamer’s proper usage, “all ego states in students can see and feel that they are not being Persecuted or Rescued by a teacher playing a Game when they are called on to respond to classroom requirements and challenges.” This idea alone should spark a creative teacher’s rethinking of the traditional classroom environment, but it is just one of a number of alternative learning concepts covered in this enlightening book. Stapleton uses the final chapter to reflect on his career from the perspective of a retired 75-year-old looking back on chapters he wrote as a 38-year-old. Somewhat loose, free-wheeling, and maybe a bit beyond the book’s scope, Stapleton’s parting shot more broadly concerns the states of students, universities, society, politics, and the world.

Illuminating, if quirky at times; insightful, eye-opening observations about the interplay of teachers and students in the classroom.

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-58433-0

Page Count: 274

Publisher: Effective Learning Publications

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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SLEEPERS

An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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