The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values, by James L. Shulman and William G. Bowen (Princeton University Press, 41 William St., Princeton, NJ 08540; 447 pp.; $27.95 hardback). Findings from a groundbreaking study of 90,000 students gauging the impact of college sports on the admissions process and the academic performance and values of those who play sports. The authors, both officers of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, one a former president of Princeton University, bring what is described as the first solid empirical research to bear on such questions as the educational value of playing sports, whether colleges have put financial gain from athletics programs above academic standards, how Title IX has changed the landscape of such programs, and many others. While the authors express a belief that sports can and should play an important role in bolstering community spirit on campus, educators will find some of their findings troubling, especially those that show a consistent and growing tendency for athletes to underperform academically—not just relative to other students, but to how they themselves might have been expected to perform.
Cultivating Heart and Character, ed. by Tony Devine, Joon Ho Seuk, and Andrew Wilson (Character Development Publishing, PO Box 9211, Chapel Hill, NC 27515-9211; 486 pp.; $22.95 paperback). Compiled and edited by three educators who maintain that “character education does have an impact” on many vexing social problems affecting children and adolescents, this volume offers six ways to build character in the classroom. Its insights address such difficult topics as ethical sexuality, the value of marriage and family, conflict resolution, social responsibility, manners, and the nature of love. In a foreword, Thomas Lickona, a prolific writer on the subject, says that the book “expands the scope of character education to encompass the whole of life.”
Choosing Excellence, by John Merrow (The Scarecrow Press Inc., 4720 Boston Way, Lanham, MD 20706; 207 pp.; $15.95 paperback). Written by a longtime education journalist who hosts a PBS documentary series on youth and learning, “The Merrow Report,” this guide to determining school quality is based on the assumption that “there are really only three kinds of schools: bad, good enough, and excellent.” Most people settle for “good enough,” the author says, owing to a lack of adequate information and their desire to believe that their own schools are OK. Each chapter of the book explores some aspect of schooling: safety, academics, values, technology, and so forth, and offers readers the practices and strategies they should look for in “choosing excellence.”
For more information on these books, contact the publisher or your local library or or visit our online BookShelf. To order by phone, call (888) 887-3200.
A version of this article appeared in the January 10, 2001 edition of Education Week