Book Review

Common Schools, Uncommon Futures


Reviewed by William J. Leary
Associate Professor and Acting Chair
of Educational Leadership, University
of Mississippi, Oxford, Miss.

 


 

As editor of a series of essays on children, teachers, learning and schooling, Barry S. Kogan, a professor at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, has brought together the work of a group of thoughtful authors on topics most administrators will find familiar.

Featuring diverse thinkers such as Jerome Bruner, Deborah Meier, Larry Cuban, Nel Noddings and Joseph Featherstone, this book of 12 essays reflects on the human and fiscal resources necessary to help renew public education and how to better educate children in the future.

Bruner, for instance, discusses the importance of teachers in children's lives and contrasts that fact with the recognition that today's children have less meaningful interaction with their working mothers and non-present fathers than ever before. Add the hours children spend watching television and Bruner believes too many children are cut off from a sense of how to enter and cope with the adult world.

Most school leaders already realize that such drastic situations intensify the responsibility thrust upon teachers and schools to assist in creating a collaborative culture or a viable community.

The essays also tackle other important issues in public education-education finance, teaching values, recent reform movements, issues of local control and governance and, most importantly, how to help all children Leann.

Ken Alexander's essay draws on John K. Galbraith's observations concerning the negative results of intergenerational poverty on children. Alexander notes that the poor find their personal hope exhausted when striving turns to defeat and incentives for improvement become remote. In turn, as the poor become resigned to their situation, the affluent feel morally justified to assert that the poor don't even try. Alexander believes that universal education gives individuals a way to step outside the world of poverty.

(Common Schools, Uncommon Futures, edited by Barry S. Kogan, Teachers College Press, 1234 Amsterdam Ave., New York, N.Y. 10027, 223 pp. with index, $19.95 softcover)