An astute collection of educational essays coupled with introspective reflections.



Wirtz (Reading Champs, 2014) reflects on an accomplished career as a teacher and warmly remembers the ups and downs of family life.

The author enjoyed a diverse career serving as the seminar leader for the California School Boards Association, a principal and curriculum consultant, an English teacher in the Arizona and California penal systems, and an activist for literacy. She shares her happiest remembrances as a teacher, which almost always revolve around her students, for whom she expresses unabashed affection. She also discusses a broad spectrum of educational issues, including the value of homework, the benefits of speed-reading, the protection of transgender students, and the threat posed by school shootings, among many others. With equal enthusiasm, she discusses her life as a wife, mother, and grandmother and the lessons she’s drawn from each role. She’s suffered her share of personal tribulations—she survived a bout with cancer and had to reshape her life after the death of her husband, William. However, the book is less a linear memoir than an assemblage of essays and “brief staccato-like stories,” as she puts it, and it reads like a selection of journal entries that are candid, informal, and liberated from formal structure. The author freely roams wherever her mind takes her, jumping seamlessly from the personal to the professional. As a result, the whole work has an appealingly homespun character to it, and she proffers sensible, if sometimes-banal, counsel: “Striving for excellence is the only way to go, and being a champion does not come overnight.” The tone of the work is delightfully buoyant, though, and Wirtz’s prose can have a cheerleading quality: “We are Teachers. We are strong and mighty!” The education-related essays should be edifying to other teachers, as Wirtz’s experience and expertise are beyond reproach. However, the personal reminiscences are somewhat less engaging and will probably appeal most to her closest family members and friends. 

An astute collection of educational essays coupled with introspective reflections.

Pub Date: March 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4897-2163-1

Page Count: 306

Publisher: LifeRichPublishing

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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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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American schools at every level, from kindergarten to postgraduate programs, have substituted ideological indoctrination for education, charges conservative think-tanker Sowell (Senior Fellow/Hoover Institution; Preferential Polices, 1990, etc.) in this aggressive attack on the contemporary educational establishment. Sowell's quarrel with "values clarification" programs (like sex education, death-sensitizing, and antiwar "brainwashing") isn't that he disagrees with their positions but, rather, that they divert time and resources from the kind of training in intellectual analysis that makes students capable of reasoning for themselves. Contending that the values clarification programs inspired by his archvillain, psychotherapist Carl Rogers, actually inculcate values confusion, Sowell argues that the universal demand for relevance and sensitivity to the whole student has led public schools to abdicate their responsibility to such educational ideals as experience and maturity. On the subject of higher education, Sowell moves to more familiar ground, ascribing the declining quality of classroom instruction to the insatiable appetite of tangentially related research budgets and bloated athletic programs (to which an entire chapter, largely irrelevant to the book's broader argument, is devoted). The evidence offered for these propositions isn't likely to change many minds, since it's so inveterately anecdotal (for example, a call for more stringent curriculum requirements is bolstered by the news that Brooke Shields graduated from Princeton without taking any courses in economics, math, biology, chemistry, history, sociology, or government) and injudiciously applied (Sowell's dismissal of student evaluations as responsible data in judging a professor's classroom performance immediately follows his use of comments from student evaluations to document the general inadequacy of college teaching). All in all, the details of Sowell's indictment—that not only can't Johnny think, but "Johnny doesn't know what thinking is"—are more entertaining than persuasive or new.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-930330-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

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