The Miseducation of America's Teachers
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 A trashing of America's schools of education by Kramer (At a Tender Age, 1988; In Defense of the Family, 1983), who made a yearlong tour of leading schools of education in the US from Teacher's College at Columbia to the University of Washington, sitting in on classes and interviewing students and professors. Using a tried-and-true journalistic technique, Kramer lets the accused hang themselves in their own words. Verbatim classroom dialogue from the students who will soon mold America's youth makes a reader flinch: ``like'' as omnipresent modifier, ``neat'' as descriptive as in ``like it was kinda neat.'' Hours devoted to analyzing the values promoted in a book about Tootles the locomotive; adults leaping up in the middle of a class discussion to sing ``If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.'' According to Kramer, the language is not corrected, and the childish behavior is encouraged as an appropriate way to learn about children, because methodology--the how of teaching--is emphasized far beyond the what, the facts of math, science, and history. Frequently, the professors have a political agenda, usually egalitarian, which puts a premium on ``self-esteem,'' on ``success'' by no objective standard other than by how much a child has improved over his last effort. Clearly, Kramer also has her own agenda: She believes in raising standards in the classroom, jacking up levels of achievement, and returning content to the teaching curriculum. Meanwhile, she is not entirely insensitive to the problems that teachers face--the need to be social worker, substitute parent, and transmitter of values in addition to teaching--or to the problems that colleges face in training teachers to be so multifaceted. Kramer's call to improve schools of education is valid, but the constantly appalled tone, the repeated sarcasm and disapproval, the narrow focus make the call annoyingly off-key.

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1991
ISBN: 0-02-917642-5
Page count: 250pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1991