Published Online: October 10, 2006
Published in Print: October 11, 2006, as New in Print

Book Review

New in Print

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Brain Research

Enriching the Brain: How to Maximize Every Learner’s Potential by Eric Jensen (Jossey-Bass, an imprint of Wiley, www.josseybass.com; 352 pp., $24.95 hardback).

Drawing from research on neuroscience, intelligence, genetics, and child development, Jensen, a former teacher, outlines a strategy for improving children’s cognitive powers that he predicts can aid over 90 percent of all students, from those with special needs to the gifted. Arguing against the notion that brain capacity is genetically determined, he asserts that schools and parents can reshape students’ brains through actions such as providing novel and challenging learning activities, teaching stress-management techniques, and promoting good nutrition and physical activity. Conventional schooling, with its emphasis on standardized testing, runs counter to brain-enrichment research, Jensen writes, and can actually cause children’s intelligence to regress. He suggests that schools instead create a customized education program for every student, and gives concrete advice on how such a change could be implemented schoolwide and at the classroom level.

Engaging ’Tweens and Teens: A Brain-Compatible Approach to Reaching Middle and High School Students by Raleigh Philp (Corwin Press, www.corwinpress.com; 232 pp., $32.95 paperback).

An introduction to neurobiology that highlights the science’s practical applications for teachers.

Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights From a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher by Judy Willis (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, www.ascd.org/books; 125 pp., $21.95 paperback).

A guide to improving students’ mental focus, sustaining their attention, and boosting their memory, written from the perspective of a medically trained neuroscientist turned educator.

Early Education

Building Blocks: Making Children Successful in the Early Years of School by Gene I. Maeroff (Palgrave Macmillan, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, www.palgrave-usa.com; 256 pp., $24.95 hardback).

Citing the significance of the primary grades as a foundation for later student achievement, Maeroff, a senior fellow at the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, at Teachers College, Columbia University, calls on educators and policymakers to adopt a prekindergarten-through-3rd-grade approach to early education. Such a configuration, he explains, would not only ensure that this age group receives the attention it deserves, but could also enhance young children’s learning by fostering coordination within and across grade levels, providing a solid grounding in literacy, and allowing for staggered rates of development through varied student groupings. Maeroff further recommends that, within the pre-K-3 setting, preschool be made available to all 4-year-olds (and, eventually, 3-year-olds), and that every district offer full-day kindergarten. Case studies from across the nation enliven the text and illustrate the challenges and successes of a pre-K-3 structure.

A Vision for Universal Preschool Education by Edward Zigler, Walter S. Gilliam, & Stephanie M. Jones (Cambridge University Press, www.cambridge.org; 302 pp., $29.99 paperback).

The father of Head Start and colleagues from across the social sciences spell out the requirements of a model preschool program.

Sports

A Home on the Field: How One Championship Team Inspires Hope for the Revival of Small Town America by Paul Cuadros (Rayo, an imprint of HarperCollins, www.harpercollins.com; 288 pp., $22.95 hardback).

Cuadros, a freelance reporter, moved to rural North Carolina in 1999 to investigate the Southeast’s burgeoning Hispanic population connected to the poultry-processing industry. A former high school soccer player, he soon took up the cause of Latino students at Jordan-Matthews High School in Siler City, who for years had unsuccessfully petitioned school administrators for a soccer team. After several months, Cuadros obtained permission to establish a program—no small feat in a town devoted to its football team, and which had hosted an anti-immigrant rally the previous year. In this book, he recounts the soccer team’s formation and first three seasons, culminating in its 2004 state championship. Cuadros’ descriptions of the predominantly Hispanic players shed light on the struggles faced by immigrant students, but his message ultimately is one of hope as he relates how a team that was jeered during its first season became, through its championship run, a unifying force for the entire community.

Little League, Big Dreams: The Hope, the Hype and the Glory of the Greatest World Series Ever Played by Charles Euchner (Sourcebooks, www.sourcebooks.com; 320 pp., $22.95 hardback).

A critical assessment of the competitive frenzy youth baseball has become, and of the adults who feed it.

Trevon Jenifer: From the Ground Up by Trevon Jenifer with Alan Goldenbach (Sports Publishing, www.sportspublishingllc.com; 220 pp., $22.95 hardback).

Born without legs, high school wrestling star Jenifer tells how he overcame adversity, both in athletics and in the rest of life.

Youths and the Law

Judging Children as Children: A Proposal for a Juvenile Justice System by Michael A. Corriero (Temple University Press, www.temple.edu/tempress; 232 pp., $25 hardback).

The presiding judge of a Manhattan juvenile court, Corriero contends that laws which require teenagers charged with serious crimes to be tried as adults, and which restrict judicial discretion in sentencing for such cases, are unjust and ineffective. He says that those policies ignore developmental differences between adolescents and adults by holding young offenders to a level of maturity they do not possess, and that such laws are unsuccessful in deterring crime. Pointing to teenagers’ greater openness to rehabilitation, he describes a juvenile-justice system that could identify youths capable of addressing their problems without compromising public safety. Under his plan, such adolescents would be placed in “alternative to incarceration” programs that would enable them to receive counseling, continue their education, and pursue employment. Such a system, he concludes, could satisfy society’s need for protection from criminals while putting juvenile offenders on the right track to becoming productive members.

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Also of Note

Medieval Schools: From Roman Britain to Renaissance England by Nicholas Orme (Yale University Press, yalebooks.com; 432 pp., $45 hardback).

A scholar looks at early schools and finds the roots of modern education.

Darwinism and Its Discontents by Michael Ruse (Cambridge University Press, www.cambridge.org; 326 pp., $30 hardback).

A defense of the theory of evolution by a leading authority on the subject.

Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools edited by Eugenie C. Scott & Glenn Branch (Beacon Press, www.beacon.org; 184 pp., $14 paperback).

Scientific, legal, educational, and religious experts speak to teachers and parents in this collection of essays.

I’m Proud of You: My Friendship With Fred Rogers by Tim Madigan (Gotham Books, an imprint of Penguin, www.penguin.com; 208 pp., $20 hardback).

A journalist finds emotional healing through his relationship with the children’s television icon.

My Life as a Furry Red Monster: What Being Elmo Has Taught Me About Life, Love, and Laughing Out Loud by Kevin Clash with Gary Brozek (Broadway Books, an imprint of Random House, www.broadwaybooks.com; 224 pp., $19.95 hardback).

Life lessons interspersed throughout a puppeteer’s account of how he traveled from an African-American neighborhood outside Baltimore to “Sesame Street.”

The Foxfire 40th Anniversary Book: Faith, Family, and the Land edited by Angie Cheek, Lacy Hunter Nix, & Foxfire students (Anchor Books, an imprint of Random House, www.anchorbooks.com; 560 pp., $17.95 paperback).

A compendium of the Appalachian folk-life wisdom collected since Georgia high school students created a magazine—and a movement—called Foxfire in 1966.

Over Here: How the G.I. Bill Transformed the American Dream by Edward Humes (Harcourt, www.harcourtbooks.com; 336 pp., $26 hardback).

From a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, a look at the legislation behind the “greatest generation.”

Productive Learning: Science, Art, and Einstein’s Relativity in Educational Reform by Stanislaw D. Glazek & Seymour B. Sarason (Corwin Press, www.corwinpress.com; 280 pp., $35.95 paperback).

A physicist and a psychologist team up to explain why reform movements fail.

Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences by Kitty Burns Florey (Melville House, www.mhpbooks.com; 160 pp., $19.95 hardback).

Catholic schooling, modern language, and famous authors’ grammar are all dissected in this lighthearted eulogy for the word-mapping method.

Vol. 26, Issue 7, Pages 34-35

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