LOSING OUR LANGUAGE

HOW MULTICULTURAL CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION IS UNDERMINING OUR CHILDREN'S ABILITY TO READ, WRITE, AND REASON

Stotsky, a Harvard Graduate School of Education research associate, shares familiar worries about the alleged sins of the multiculturalists— —illiberal” and anti-intellectual practices—their “watering down” of the curriculum and “dumbing down” of pedagogy. Multiculturalists, as the author observes, claim to introduce non-Western, ethnic, and gender-sensitive literature in order to promote “authentic” experience. Originally, this was intended to correct longstanding sociopolitical exclusions (and academic deficiencies) and to motivate minority children. As a result, the —whole-language— movement (a context- and culture-based reading program) became multiculturalisms— most prized theory. Phonics-based reading (instruction based on recognizing sound-letter relationships) was pushed aside, and “advanced— vocabularies were replaced with dialects (Black English, Spanglish). Much (to some, excessive) emphasis was given to the literature of minority groups, with relatively scant attention paid to the majority European ethnic tradition. Stotsky complains that traditional basal readers have lost their literary standards and no longer reflect the rigor of textbooks containing the “best literature” available. The outcome, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, has been a steady downward trend in the basic skills, knowledge, and analytical powers of students and a widening gap between white and minority children. Some of the author’s views contrast starkly with those of researchers who maintain that linguistically and culturally enriched backgrounds are effective in enhancing academic and social skills. The new crop of realistic multiculturalists, such as Jabari Mahiri (author of the recent Shooting for Excellence: African American and Youth Culture in New Century Schools), maintain that to filter cultural and linguistic backgrounds out of the curriculum would be tantamount to denying children’s identity and reality. Anti-multiculturalists like E.D. Hirsch and the late Allan Bloom created a debate that has lasted since 1987. Stotsky will perhaps ride its wave—and produce a splash of her own.

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 1999

ISBN: 0-684-84961-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Moving and motivating—a must-read for practicing professionals and would-be musicians.

STRINGS ATTACHED

ONE TOUGH TEACHER AND THE GIFT OF GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Inspirational lessons from the life of one tough teacher.

Today’s parents who lament their children stressing over tests may be horrified by the themes of tough love and tenacity offered by this biographical tribute to the late Jerry Kupchynsky, “Mr. K,” a gifted high school strings teacher from East Brunswick, N.J., whose exacting methods helped spawn the careers of generations of musicians and educators. Journalist Lipman and Kupchynsky, a violinist and Mr. K’s daughter, met as children when Mr. K joined his daughter’s exceptional talents on violin with Lipman’s on viola to form half of a string quartet that would also include Kupchynsky’s younger sister, whose disappearance decades later reunited the authors. The bond forged through the intensity of creating music is but one of the storylines running through this engrossing account of Mr. K’s life. Born in 1928 in the Ukraine, Mr. K endured a litany of wartime atrocities before immigrating to the United States as a refugee in 1946. But prior to fleeing to the U.S., it was the sound of a German soldier playing the violin that sparked his love for classical music. Surviving these early hardships helped instill in Mr. K an appreciation of adversity as a motivator, an unflagging belief in the value of hard work and a willingness to fight for the underdog. With a booming Ukrainian accent and “trim” mustache, Mr. K’s battle-ax demeanor and perfectionist drive struck both fear and a ferocious desire to succeed in the hearts of his pupils. One of his more unforgiving approaches involved singling out a section’s weakest player—“Who eez deaf in first violins?”—and forcing the guilty party to play alone with a stronger player until the weak one improved. While tactics like these may not have earned his students’ immediate devotion, they never forgot him and often found they could achieve more than they ever dreamed.

Moving and motivating—a must-read for practicing professionals and would-be musicians.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4013-2466-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An ambitiously original but uncorroborated theory.

PSYCHOCONDUCTION

A sweeping new theory that puts forward a way to rejuvenate a damaged brain without using surgical or pharmacological methods. 

Clinical psychologist Litvin (Litvin’s Code, 2011) proposes what he calls a bold “new neuropsychological discovery” about ways in which a chronically underperforming brain may be improved with carefully managed mental exercises. According to the author, the brain processes information via an internal mapping system, in which received data is directed to a “book of addresses.” When the brain malfunctions, he says, it’s largely the result of damaged complex brain cells receiving “incomplete or distorted requests,” which results in the improper distribution of information. However, he asserts that the brain has a kind of organic plasticity that allows it to respond to willfully enacted repairs. Litvin argues that simple cells in the body can be stimulated in a way that either rejuvenates or replace damaged complex cells; this stimulation can overcome what he calls “neuropsychological barriers” and result in the release of a newly “balanced amount of brain chemicals”—a vague formulation that typifies the author’s overall mode of discussion. This is achieved, he says, by activating the brain’s response to various stimuli in quick succession, including tactile, visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and olfactory stimuli. Litvin calls this theory of repair “psychoconduction,” and he includes a detailed series of mental exercises that ask readers to translate simple mathematical equations into various modes of expression; for example, he shows how a visual pattern may be translated into a knocking sound, or a clamping of a hand. Litvin has discussed psychoconduction in a number of other works, but here, he furnishes his most thorough and systematic explanation of it, largely in accessible, nontechnical language. However, this volume also replicates the principal vices of the others: It’s remarkably general, and it doesn’t present any empirical, experimental evidence for its claims. Also, Litvin’s promises regarding the scope of its application are equally unsubstantiated, as well as implausible; he claims, for example, that the exercises can remedy dyslexia, anxiety, attention-deficit disorder, anger issues, and even help people who have hallucinations. It’s never clear how it’s all possible, and the author offers no solid proof. 

An ambitiously original but uncorroborated theory. 

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4669-1254-0

Page Count: 129

Publisher: Trafford

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more