New in Print

January 22, 2003 8 min read
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  • Getting It Wrong From the Beginning: Our Progressivist Inheritance From Herbert Spencer, John Dewey, and Jean Piaget by Kieran Egan (Yale University Press, PO Box 209040, New Haven, CT 06520; 205 pp., $25 hardcover).

An educational theorist argues that public education’s commitment to progressivism is a mistake and that continued belief in and reliance on progressive education “dooms” attempts at education reform. The author examines the 19th-century sources from which many American ideas about education derive, including the work of Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), John Dewey (1859-1952), and Jean Piaget (1896-1980). In particular, he questions progressive education’s insistence on attending to the nature of the child—his or her mode of learning and stage of development. Arguing that educators are using ideas about the development of the mind that are not correct, he presents a new vision of educational practice and curricula, based on interdisciplinary research about children’s minds and their development.

  • Iconoclast: Abraham Flexner and a Life in Learning by Thomas Neville Bonner (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2715 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218; 424 pp., $36 hardcover).

This is the first biography of one of the “great innovators in education of the 20th century.” Abraham Flexner worked as a teacher and schoolmaster and later focused on reforming medical education and higher education. Perhaps best known for his 1910 survey now called the Flexner Report, which radically altered medical education with its emphasis on full-time clinical teaching, Flexner’s early work included the development of experimental schools, such as the one he founded in 1892 in Louisville, Ky., four years before John Dewey’s establishment of the Laboratory School at the University of Chicago. Flexner’s was an experimental school based on progressive ideas. Later, as a member of the Rockefeller-supported General Education Board, he helped create New York City’s progressive Lincoln School.


  • Finding Your Leadership Style: A Guide for Educators by Jeffrey Glanz (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1703 N. Beauregard St., Alexandria, VA 22311; 217 pp., $25.95 paperback).

All people have natural leadership abilities, according to this guide to seven types of leaders and the qualities each type embodies. The author, a college dean and education department head, proposes a list of seven virtues essential for all good leaders and details how to match leadership qualities with specific careers in education.The book includes questionnaires and focus questions to help readers assess their own and others’ leadership styles.

  • What People Think Principals Do by Sharon H. Pristash (Scarecrow Press, 4720 Boston Way, Lanham, MD 20706; 120 pp., $27.50 hardcover, $17.50 paperback).

The principal at a Roman Catholic school in Duluth, Minn., examines the many ways the principalship is viewed, based on interviews with students, teachers, parents, and community members. She then suggests some of the implications these often-conflicting views might have on the profession. Also included are the voices of current and former principals, allowing the reader to compare their views of the job with the many and varied public perceptions.


  • Aquamarine Blue 5: Personal Stories of College Students With Autism ed. by Dawn Prince-Hughes (Ohio University Press/Swallow Press, Dunkle Hall 225, Athens, OH 45701; 134 pp., $32.95 hardcover, $14.95 paperback).

Presenting the unedited personal narratives of five college students with autism, this is described as the first book to be written from such a vantage point about the challenges of campus life. The students’ stories reveal the gifts specific to autistic students that could benefit their schools, scholarship in general, and the wider world. The editor, an anthropologist who has herself been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, writes: “In their own words, [the students] portray how their divergent thinking skills could be put to great use if they were given an opportunity.”


  • Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence by the National Research Council Institute of Medicine (National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20418; 400 pp., $39.95 hardcover).

A National Academy of Sciences panel examines six case studies of student-perpetrated school shootings, with an eye to drawing “objective conclusions” from these tragic incidents. Events leading up to the school violence are described, and the book includes quotes and other material from personal interviews with those involved. The effects of the violence on each of the communities examined are also explored. The resulting compilation suggests some reasons for violence in schools, offers possible ways to prevent future violence, and discusses courses of action that might promote healing.

  • Kids Working It Out: Stories and Strategies for Making Peace in Our Schools ed. by Tricia S. Jones and Randy Compton (Jossey-Bass, a Wiley Company, 605 Third Ave., New York, NY 10158; 360 pp., $35 paperback).

This tool for parents and teachers examines conflict-resolution education as a way to teach children how to better manage conflicts and prevent violence. The editors—Tricia S. Jones, a Temple University professor who is the editor-in-chief of Conflict Resolution Quarterly, and Randy Compton, the executive director of the School Mediation Center in Boulder, Colo., and the project coordinator for the National Curriculum Integration Project—describe the goals of conflict- resolution programs, explore their benefits, and provide some basic guidelines for implementing such programs. Then, in their own voices, students and teachers relate how they have handled conflict in the schools. Experts in the field analyze these stories and offer recommendations for readers facing similar conflicts.

  • Violence Goes to School

by John Nicoletti and Sally Spencer-Thomas (National Education Service, 304 W. Kirkwood Ave., Suite 2, Bloomington, IN 47404; 240 pp., $24.95 paperback).

An overview of violence in America’s schools, divided into four parts. Part I gives the current state of youth violence, including a chronology of recent incidents. Part II focuses on prevention, and Part III explores the issues that arise when violence occurs in schools. Part IV addresses what schools need to do to recover from violent or traumatic incidents.


  • Reaching Higher: The Power of Expectations in Schooling by Rhona S. Weinstein (Harvard University Press, 79 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138; 345 pp., $39.95 hardcover).

A professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, explores the power of self-fulfilling prophecies in education. Laying out the ways adults’ expectations can “predict and shape students’ performances and attitudes,” she uses her own research data, multifield empirical-research findings, and case studies to argue for a paradigm shift in what she calls “the explanatory model” of understanding this dynamic. Educators should move, she suggests, “beyond earlier behavioral and sociocognitive models, toward an ecological theory of expectancy effects in schooling.” Her work employs many different voices (those of children, teachers, principals, and scholars) and integrates findings from different levels of education (elementary, secondary, postsecondary, as well as the “interactive worlds of family and school”). Children are aware of differential treatment in the classroom, she shows, and a classroom environment that “sharply differentiates expectations and treatment” is aligned with the “growing gaps between children for whom more or less is expected.”

  • The Myth of Laziness: America’s Top Learning Expert Shows How Children and Their Parents Can Become More Productive by Dr. Mel Levine (Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020; 270 pp., $26 hardcover).

The best-selling pediatrician-author rethinks the concept of student “laziness,” suggesting that the problem should be viewed not from a moral standpoint, but rather as a phenomenon he calls “output failure.” Such failure is not, he says, “a distinct syndrome, nor should it be understood as any sort of label or category. It is a result, not a cause. ... Low output occurs when one or more neurodevelopmental dysfunctions interfere with productivity.” The book attempts to explain why so many bright, hardworking people “lose momentum and heart during the pursuit of accomplishment.” It identifies eight neurodevelopmental weaknesses and reveals, through the stories of eight individuals, how these can make one less productive and perhaps lead to failure. Factors discussed include: motor breakdowns, memory shortfalls, lack of verbal fluency, and mental-energy crises. The book also examines external factors such as stress, competition, socioeconomic status, family values, and role models, and offers strategies for improving productivity in the classroom, the workplace, and life.

  • Tough Fronts: The Impact of Street Culture on Schooling by L. Janelle Dance (RoutledgeFalmer, 29 W. 35th St., New York, NY 10001; 187 pp., $22.95 paperback).

A professor of sociology draws on her ethnographic research in Boston to create a portrait of the lives, both in the classroom and on the streets, of inner-city students who are deemed at risk for failing in school. Including a close analysis of street culture alongside an evaluation of today’s urban schools, the study’s central feature is a view of students and the postures they adopt for their own survival. The book argues that students have a place in improving inner-city classrooms and that their voices should be heard.


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