Ignore the incredibly cheesey cover. Clear-eyed and hard-nosed, Steingraber is a scientist first. She asks scary and difficult questions and follows t...moreIgnore the incredibly cheesey cover. Clear-eyed and hard-nosed, Steingraber is a scientist first. She asks scary and difficult questions and follows them to their (nicely documented) sources.
The author does write beautifullly, and as her personal story of cancer and pregnancy unfolds, I felt connected to her struggle to "keep the faith" in the world, in the future, and in her ability to bring a child safely through it all. I'm just really sure that the cover and the title are stopping smart moms from reading this thing.(less)
Simply one of the most useful books I've ever read. I got it out at the beginning of every school year and I recommend it to everybody in the classroo...moreSimply one of the most useful books I've ever read. I got it out at the beginning of every school year and I recommend it to everybody in the classroom. Wong imposes a bit of discipline on the start-of-school panic and reminds teachers of the difference their preparation makes. Nothing earth-shattering, just a great checklist to get my head on straight.(less)
So, I didn't have any black kids that year in my ESL classroom, but this book helped me prevent the problem of balkanization in my diverse classes wit...moreSo, I didn't have any black kids that year in my ESL classroom, but this book helped me prevent the problem of balkanization in my diverse classes without, I hope, disrespecting my kids' home cultures.(less)
This is "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenace" with no zen, and a denial of art, really. A very apt summary of the things that are...moreIn a word: meh.
This is "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenace" with no zen, and a denial of art, really. A very apt summary of the things that are appealing and very off-putting about this book can be found here http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/29/boo....
I really support Crawford's point that celebrating craftsmanship and trades would fix a huge imbalance in our education system and work life in this country. When he's waxing not-quite-poetic about the way that solving real problems is the only way to form truly creative and critically thinking minds, I am so in.
However, the idea that fixing motorcyles is inherantly more valuable that pursuing mathematical models for problems? I dunno. I think that whole argument has to do with the fact that Crawford clearly has issues with his dad, a mathematician.
And the idea that the mechanical trades are the only place that real work and real management happens? I doubt that as well. I work in a hybrid organization - we are shop-floor based and I work in the support groups that provide documentation and plans for our workers, and I feel that I've seen sloppy work and excellent use of problem-solving on both sides of the wall.
The thing that irritated me the most was that Crawford purported to simply use mechanic work as an example of ideal work, but in no way did he find any other examples. The best he could do was mention a firefighter as someone who might also combine technical knowledge with intuition artfully.
But there are some obvious examples of people who've been doing reality-based, creative work requiring technical know how that's undervalued by society for millenia: women. Despite the fact that they're almost entirely invisible in Shop Class, women have been doing work that, while undervalued, combines careful observation and use of feedback to solve real problems. Mentioning cooking, child-rearing, cloth making, agriculture - any traditional women's work - would have bolstered Crawford's argument that our society's love affair with technology overlooks the skills we need to make our communities work.
At least, I thought that was his argument at first. But by the end of the book, you realize that his point was "My job is more awesome that the caricatured job that I imagine you have, and this makes me both cooler and more moral than office people."
And maybe he is - I'd love to go have beers with this guy. But in the end, the book reads like a late-night bull session with a young philosophy grad, not a wider reflection on our real culture.(less)