Let there be no doubt: a "skilled" minority person who is not also capable of critical analysis becomes the trainable, low-level fu
Chapter 6 epigraph:
Let there be no doubt: a "skilled" minority person who is not also capable of critical analysis becomes the trainable, low-level functionary of the dominant society, simply the grease that keeps the institutions which orchestrate his or her oppression running smoothly. On the other hand, a critical thinker who lacks the "skills" demanded by employers and institutions of higher learning can aspire to financial and social status only within the disenfranchised underworld. —Lisa Delpit, Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom
I don’t know what is taught in other universities, but here in the San Francisco Bay Area, all four teacher prep programs I’m aware of (CSUEB, SFSU, Stanford and USF) have some variation of “Teaching for Equity in Secondary Schools”. As the subtitle of the syllabus puts it, “The Right to a Free Public Education is the Most Pressing Civil Rights Issue of Our Time.” The class was interesting, and sometimes fascinating, although the professor has trouble connecting with many of the students, so there was frequently an undercurrent of frustration and even hostility.
That wasn’t one of my problems.
What was a frustration was the emphasis on the African-American aspect of the problem, to the almost complete exclusion of other ethnicities and cultures. I will certainly acknowledge that the history of the United State makes this problem loom larger and more tragic than others, but that is a societal problem, and the focus isn’t helpful to, for example, a teacher dealing with a class full of Latino English-language learners — or many other cultures or peoples who face inequities
But this book “Holler if you hear me: The education of a teacher and his students”, was a pleasure. That’s probably because it isn’t intended as advocacy, but as a very interesting memoir. For anyone who read the much earlier “Up the Down Staircase”, this serves as a good sequel, informing the reader what conditions a teacher sometimes faced in an impoverished urban school.
Of the three books we read for class, it was also the one that didn’t focus on African-Americans, but Latinos in Chicago. As a textbook for how to teach in a highly diverse school, it doesn’t really work. But as an eye-opening look at one teacher’s life, it’s wonderful....more
I haven’t read many war memoirs, so my opinion isn’t well-informed on those grounds. The only one I can compare this to is Tim O’Brien’s The Things TI haven’t read many war memoirs, so my opinion isn’t well-informed on those grounds. The only one I can compare this to is Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, and I’d put this up a little higher, although it has been year since I’ve read the latter.
Why better? Two things worked against O’Brien for me. First, Vietnam as a way looms too large in my mind — you can’t be an American man of my age without having thought long and hard about it. I’m a few years too young to have been drafted, but my teenage reaction to Vietnam is a big reason I didn’t follow my father into the military. Second, O’Brien has some chapters where he’s back in the U.S., processing his own reaction; Friedman does the same kind of thing, and I think he does it better.
As far as I can discern, when Bel Kaufman started teaching high school English, the only professional requirement was a college degree in that subjectAs far as I can discern, when Bel Kaufman started teaching high school English, the only professional requirement was a college degree in that subject matter. So we get a wry and sometimes hilarious picture of how stressful that can be. College level teaching is still like this, but most public schools seem to demand a credential showing evidence of pedagogical training.
That has professionalized teaching towards teaching itself, which means that while the educator has more to teach, they ideally have fewer bureaucratic duties — for example, being held responsible for what one of "their" students may do outside of the classroom. This is probably one of the ingredients in the rising cost of school administration, since what was once offloaded to the teacher's shoulders now has to be done in the central office.
A fun book, providing some time-travel to "the good old days" that some educational reformersreactionariescave-dwelling antediluvians "activists" would be happy to see the poorer parts of the country return to....more
This is a very simple book — well, a graphic novel, except its biographical, so it isn't a novel.
Anyway, if you have relatively ancient people in youThis is a very simple book — well, a graphic novel, except its biographical, so it isn't a novel.
Anyway, if you have relatively ancient people in your life — or if you are one of those relatively ancient folks, or even if you're just curious — this is likely to be one of the least unpleasant ways of introducing certain topics.
This shows that an amusingly lame but eccentric idea for a road trip can be seriously awesome when the adventurers are wild and crazy in all the rightThis shows that an amusingly lame but eccentric idea for a road trip can be seriously awesome when the adventurers are wild and crazy in all the right charming ways, and have many friends that encourage them to live their dreams....more
(Sylvia Nasar’s most recent book received an uninspiring review in the New York Times, but referred to her biography of Nash as “a near-perfect biogra(Sylvia Nasar’s most recent book received an uninspiring review in the New York Times, but referred to her biography of Nash as “a near-perfect biography.” That led me to two New York Times reviews of that earlier book. The first, Mathematics to Madness, and Back again notes that she wrote “a biography of Nash that reads like a fine novel,” and a few days later was joined in approbation by Between Genius and Madness. The book had drifted deep into the invisible depths of my too-large to-be-read list; it has now been bumped back to the top ranks.)...more
Abandoned. I'd still like to read on this topic, but this was the wrong biography to start with. Steinberg set out to illuminate the inner Bismarck, and I've still got to catch up on the politics of the era, not the personal demons and neuroses of its key player....more
This one is beautifully poetic, but Abbey shows his true misanthropic colors in The Monkey Wrench Gang — his years of solitude in the desert might havThis one is beautifully poetic, but Abbey shows his true misanthropic colors in The Monkey Wrench Gang — his years of solitude in the desert might have given him gorgeous visions, but they ultimately made him a bad fit for civilization....more
Excellent, but not really a science book. Which is only of interest to me because it was the book-of-the-month fo(Update as of August 2013 at bottom.)
Excellent, but not really a science book. Which is only of interest to me because it was the book-of-the-month for a one science café's reading group I sometimes attend, and the author read and answered questions at another science café I go to.
Of course, science forms a large part of the background story. The changing paradigm of scientific ethics, actually, is central to how HeLa became famous and, now, infamous.
But the twin narratives that really drive this book aren't scientific stories. One was the tale of how the HeLa cells got into the research domain in the first place, and how it has been used since then — and how a lack of understanding of the virulence of the cell line has caused no small number of problems.
The other narrative was the personal story of how the author slowly won over the survivors of Lacks' family. Synergistically, the research Skloot had to do for the first was exactly what let her break through the barrier of suspicion and mistrust: the Lacks family didn't have the knowledge, skill or contacts to do the research that Skloot did, and her persistence in transparently sharing her findings with the family slowly brought them around.
Unfortunately, I was reading this primarily as a science book, and in that context it only earns three stars: "liked it". Although this is non-fiction, I've also tagged it as "chick-lit" because the larger story is really a melodramatic one that I suspect really appeals to the Oprah crowd. So, if you enjoyed Steel Magnolias but also enjoy the domain of science non-fiction, this might be a sweet read.
• • • • • • •
Update, summer 2013— The New York Times reports that the family of Henrietta Lacks is now formally involved in the research into their ancestor's cell line, which is satisfactory at least due to the privacy considerations about their own genetics, as well as ameliorating the unsettling sense of injustice at their complete disassociation from the research. The case served as an extreme example in the debate over research and medical use of tissue harvested for other purposes.
Jeri Lacks Whye, center, one of Henrietta Lacks’s grandchildren, with her own daughters, Jabrea, left, and Aiyana Rogers. Photo by Monica Lopossay for The New York Times
It has been a very long time since I read this, but I recall it as being a easy and fun bio of Ben Jonson, who led an astonishing life, it seems.
I recIt has been a very long time since I read this, but I recall it as being a easy and fun bio of Ben Jonson, who led an astonishing life, it seems.
I recall being impressed enough that I requested that an antiquarian bookseller run a search for available copies (this was before the internet) to give one as a present to my old college girlfriend, who had been an English major and who convinced me to drastically expand the scope of my reading, for which I have always been grateful.