THE CHILDREN'S MACHINE

RETHINKING SCHOOL IN THE AGE OF THE COMPUTER

The genially unorthodox author of Mindstorms (1983) again makes a stimulating case for computers as a primary route to knowledge, revising and expanding earlier observations in view of disappointing school policies of the past dozen years. Rejecting most schools as ``sluggish and timid'' in assuring access to learning, Papert (Mathematics and Education/MIT) divides the conservative education world into ``Schoolers'' (who acknowledge underlying problems but focus on short-term urgent ones) and ``Yearners'' (who create their own small-scale alternatives) as he considers why technology hasn't revolutionized school learning. Championing computers for offering forms of learning that can be ``quick, immensely compelling, and rewarding,'' Papert contends that Logo (the computer language he conceived) is a superior mode of learning for young children, closer to their informal learning style than traditional classroom approaches and invaluable as a medium for most areas of study. But schools have ignored computers' broad capacities, he finds, isolating these tools from the learning process instead of integrating them into all areas of instruction. Papert offers a steady supply of examples—from his own extensive experience as well as from assorted classrooms—providing evidence of computers as powerful learning allies. He also understands the nature of learning—the importance of the personal element in any classroom exchange; the need to adapt a learning-environment design to its social and cultural milieu; the ``internal censors'' that students bring to required work; and the way that ordered ideas can emerge from an imprecise, undirected process. Even those who resist Papert's belief that the foundation of modern schooling is faulty will agree with his central theme that the ability to learn new skills is the most critical skill of all- -and that computers have a unique, accelerating role to play in developing that ability.

Pub Date: June 16, 1993

ISBN: 0-465-01830-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1993

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INSIDE AMERICAN EDUCATION

THE DECLINE, THE DECEPTION, THE DOGMAS

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

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THE ABOLITION OF MAN

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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