New In Print

October 03, 1984 5 min read
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Against Mediocrity: The Humanities in America’s High Schools, edited by Chester E. Finn Jr., Diane Ravitch, and Robert T. Fancher (Holmes and Meier Publishers, 30 Irving Pl., New York, N.Y. 10003; 276 pages, cloth $29.50, paper $11.50).

The quality of American culture and of individual lives within that culture, as well as the success of education, depend as much on the humanities as on the sciences, argue the editors of this book. In a series of essays, 15 contributors focus on why the humanities should be part of the curriculum in American secondary schools; how humanities disciplines can be taught; how teachers can be prepared to teach literature, languages, and history; and how professionalism and good teaching can be fostered in high schools. The book was produced under the auspices of the Educational Excellence Network at the Institute for Public Policy Studies at Vanderbilt University. Mr. Finn is professor of education and public policy at Vanderbilt; Ms. Ravitch is adjunct professor of history and education at Teachers College, Columbia University; and Mr. Fancher is research associate at the institute.

All Grown Up and No Place To Go: Teenagers in Crisis, by David Elkind (Addison-Wesley General Publishers Inc., Reading, Mass. 01867; 232 pages, cloth $17.95, paper $8.95).

Children who were rushed through childhood are abandoned as teen-agers as a result of recent changes in family structure, the media, and the schools, contends Mr. Elkind, also the author of The Hurried Child. Because schools no longer offer youths a “protected place” to make the transition to adulthood, he maintains, teen-agers react to the resultant stress by developing a “patchwork self,” an incomplete identity made up of unconnected feelings, values, and attitudes. Mr. Elkind, writing for parents, teachers, and other adults, describes the symptoms of teen-agers’ stress and offers guidelines to help ease their transition to productive adulthood.

Expelled to a Friendlier Place: A Study of Effective Alternative Schools, by Martin Gold and David W. Mann (The University of Michigan Press, Box 1104, 839 Greene St., Ann Arbor, Mich. 48106; 174 pages, paper $12.95).

Arguing that failure in school is a major threat to adolescents’ self-image and therefore a cause of disruptive behavior, the authors describe their study of the effects of three alternative schools on the behavior and academic performance of a group of delinquent teen-agers. They compare the alternative schools’ impact on students with that of conventional schools, examining why some students improved and some did not, and tracing students’ success or failure to aspects of the alternative programs. Mr. Gold is professor of psychology at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan; Mr. Mann is a consulting psychologist in Detroit.

Religious Schooling in America, edited by James C. Carper and Thomas C. Hunt (Religious Education Press, 1531 Wellington Rd., Birmingham, Ala. 35209; 257 pages, paper $14.95).

This compilation of essays by 11 educators addresses the history of religious schools and current issues such as tuition tax credits and state regulation of private schools. The articles look at Calvinist, Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Lutheran, and Seventh-Day Adventist schools and examine the original aims, growth, and current status of the “common” or public school, including its relationship to the religious school. Mr. Carper is assistant professor of education at Mississippi State University; Mr. Hunt is professor of education at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Guides and Directories

Applied Strategies for Curriculum Evaluation, edited by Ron Brandt (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 225 North Washington St., Alexandria, Va. 22314; 119 pages, paper $5.75).

In this guide for administrators, seven curriculum evaluators offer their guidelines and methods for judging school academic programs. In a test case, the humanities program at the Radnor Middle School in Wayne, Pa., each evaluator presents his or her evaluation. The final chapter offers the assessment of the president of Policy Studies in Education, a nonprofit education research and development organization in New York City, on the work of the evaluators.

Managing the Incompetent Teacher, by Edwin M. Bridges, with the assistance of Barry Groves (eric Clearinghouse on Educational Management at the University of Oregon and the Institute for Research on Educational Finance and Governance at Stanford University, 1787 Agate St., University of Oregon, Eugene, Ore. 97403; 81 pages, paper $4.25).

The author offers guidelines for identifying, helping, and, if necessary, dismissing incompetent teachers. Mr. Bridges cautions against handling teacher dismissals on a case-by-case basis and presents as an alternative an organizational approach to identifying and dealing with incompetent teachers.

School Activities and the Law, by John L. Strope Jr. (National Association of Secondary School Principals, 1904 Association Dr., Reston, Va. 22091; 70 pages, paper $5).

The author, an education professor and lawyer, presents a brief introduction to the laws relevant to educators and a more detailed look at the legal issues involved in student activities. He examines topics ranging from athletics, freedom of speech and religion, and liability for injuries, to the role and obligations of sponsors of school activities. The manual includes appendices on the court system and legal research.

Other Resources

Extended Day Programs in Independent Schools, by Susan W. Nall and Stephen E. Switzer (National Association of Independent Schools, 18 Tremont St., Boston, Mass. 02108; 66 pages, paper $7).

The authors provide guidelines for schools interested in improving existing extended-day programs or establishing new ones. They cover such issues as enrollment and clientele, building space, budgets, staffing and salaries, and licensing, and examine in detail seven established after-school programs in independent schools. The monograph includes a bibliography and provides appendices on beginning and evaluating an after-school program.

High Schools and the Changing Workplace: The Employers’ View, Report of the Panel on Secondary School Education for the Changing Workplace (National Academy of Sciences, National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20418; 50 pages, paper $5.25).

This report examines the prospects for employment of high-school graduates who do not go on to four-year colleges from the perspective of the public organizations and private businesses that hire them. A panel of corporate executives and representatives from universities, government agencies, and labor unions studied for eight months the current and future employment possibilities for high-school graduates and the basic language, technological, and social skills that are likely to be required for employment.

--Pamela Winston

A version of this article appeared in the October 03, 1984 edition of Education Week as New In Print


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