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. 23, 1991

ISBN: 0-02-917642-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1991

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.


Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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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

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