The third in a series about changing America's schools, from the noted educator who launched a successful if snail's-pace revolution that both demands more and elicits more from adolescent students. A decade ago, Sizer (Horace's School, 1992) participated in a study of American high schools that found an educational assembly line offering rote skills and a frozen curriculum left over from the turn of the century. But in today's world, where the media, not the academies, set the ``common vocabulary,'' Sizer believes that schools must give children the tools to understand and if necessary challenge their often profit-driven ideas. ``Informed skepticism'' is the goal, he believes. It can be achieved through small classes and multidisciplinary, project- oriented goals that are assessed by ``exhibitions'' (echoing dissertation defenses) rather than standardized exams. This orientation, with its emphasis on curricula driven by teachers and parents, makes a strong case for school choice. Virtually buried in the text is a modest solution to the problem of bad schools in bad neighborhoods. Sizer suggests that geographic boundaries be obliterated, with public money following the student to the school of choice. A family in a poor section of the Bronx could opt for a school in nearby, affluent Westchester County, for instance, and enrollment would be determined by lottery. Surely, Westchester parents whose children were not lottery winners would bring political pressure for quality schools in the Bronx. Except for the lottery, Sizer's earlier books set forth most of the ideas found here, and despite the book's title, the fictional teacher ``Horace'' is not much in evidence. This is instead a celebration of the successes of Sizer's Coalition of Essential Schools, which supports the growing number of schools embracing the group's goals. Disarming in the defense of a new schoolroom for the 21st century, Sizer himself illustrates education at its best, setting up arguments, marshalling evidence, and reaching a convincing conclusion. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 1996

ISBN: 0-395-73983-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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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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