HORACE'S SCHOOL

REDESIGNING THE AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOL

A portrait of what an ideal American high school might be like, as envisioned by respected educator Sizer (Education/Brown Univ.). Sizer's earlier Horace's Compromise (1984) was based on intimate knowledge of US high schools. It followed the painful struggle of a fictional teacher, Horace Smith, to work within the restrictions imposed by the system—large classes, dated curricula, bureaucratic halls of mirrors—and still educate his adolescent students. Horace is here again, still a teacher but now also chairman of a committee formed not merely to reorganize but to re- create his high school. The committee includes teachers, students, parents, a school-board member, and, as influential observers, the principal and a consultant wise in the ways of the politics of education. Sizer details in lively fashion the struggles of the group to reform a system that more and more resembles an old- fashioned assembly line. The reform derives from the principles of Sizer's real-life and influential Coalition of Essential Schools. The Coalition's proponents seek to refocus the efforts of education on the student rather than on the system, and to redefine the ends of education before adjusting the means. One controversial innovation: evaluate students through ``Exhibitions''—i.e., independent but far-reaching projects—rather than standard tests. Sizer is not sanguine about the prospects for change, but he sees hope in the pressure that is being put on schools from an evolving culture and technology. A guide, not a blueprint, this is must reading for those who want to be reminded what education should be about.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-395-57230-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1991

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

COLUMBINE

Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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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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