If only it could have been one book.
Such was my wishful thinking, infused with a certain anger, as I read "Letters to a Young Teacher" and "A Class Apart," two up-close accounts of two radically different public school experiences written by, respectively, veteran educator Jonathan Kozol and Washington Post reporter Alec Klein. Of course, I figured just by the titles and authors that I was in for much more contrast than convergence. Kozol, 70, is the unsparing social critic and fierce public-school advocate whose last work, "The Shame of the Nation," detailed the almost intractable nature of public-school inequality in America 50 years after Brown vs. Board of Education; Klein, 40, is a journalist who in his book appears less influenced by political ideology than by the tenets of modern feature writing, which include a conscious neutrality on deeper education issues.
"Letters" uses the time-honored literary device of correspondence to steadily illuminate the long-standing concerns of the letter writer and those of Francesca, a novice first-grade teacher who toils in the tough, mostly black Roxbury area of Boston and who functions as Kozol's younger alter ego; "Class" is much more diffuse, full of characters, situations and odd moments meant to feel like an almost random year-in-the-life look at exclusive, high-powered Stuyvesant High School in New York City -- Klein's alma mater, by the way. . . .
"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972
. . .a pupil attitude factor, which appears to have a stronger relationship to achievement than do all the “school” factors together, is the extent to which an individual feels that he has some control over his own destiny. James Coleman, 1966
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Kozol and Klein Books Reviewed
A clip from the LA Times: