A useful resource for highly self-motivated readers.



Humanities home schooling for adults.

Bauer (The History of the Renaissance World: From the Rediscovery of Aristotle to the Conquest of Constantinople, 2013, etc.) is a critic of educational institutions: high schools teach students to read to the 10th-grade level, enough to master Stephen King, newspapers, and Time; college graduates often feel “a nagging sense of their own deficiencies.” In graduate school, the author once earned an A for a presentation on Moby-Dick, a novel she hadn’t even finished. What should you do, she asks, “if your mind is hungry, but you feel unprepared, under-educated, intimidated by all those books you know you should have read?” Her prescription: read intensely for half an hour, four days a week, and analyze according to the trivium: “First, you’ll try to understand the book’s basic structure and argument; next, you’ll evaluate the book’s assertions; finally, you’ll form an opinion about the book’s ideas.” Bauer offers an overview and specific questions for major literary genres: the novel, autobiography and memoir, history, drama, poetry, and science, along with a chronological list of books she deems important, each with her brief commentary. Although the author claims that no list of “Great Books” is canonical, her own echoes works endorsed by Mortimer Adler, innovator of the Great Books curriculum at the University of Chicago; and Harold Bloom, champion of the Western canon. The third part of Bauer’s trivium is likely to cause the most difficulty: how are readers to know if their opinions are “correct”? She recommends getting a reading partner to discuss ideas, “skimming an essay or two of criticism,” or seeking an appointment with a faculty member at a nearby college, a possibility that seems both unrealistic and frustrating for both parties. Despite her disdain for schools, her book would be most useful in a classroom setting, where discussions, essay writing, and a teacher’s expert guidance could foster the critical thinking that Bauer so passionately exalts.

A useful resource for highly self-motivated readers.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-393-08096-4

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

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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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