William Lawrence's Reviews > Republic of Noise: The Loss Of Solitude in Schools and Culture

Republic of Noise by Diana Senechal
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it was amazing
bookshelves: education, social-science

Diana Senechal is the voice teachers have been waiting for. This book has the opportunity to turn things around, if it isn’t already too late. Our culture has glorified noise and education scholars have drank the cool-aide. For those who were disappointed that this book examined schools too much, well, “schools” is right there in the subtitle. Try separating schools from culture anyway. Our culture influences schools and schools have acquiesced.

Republic of Noise is very well written and for the general reader with an interest in school, culture, the arts, and sociology. It is hardly the academic reading some have labeled it; they need to read some dissertations and papers. But the book is indeed about how we teach and learn, what our society is and isn't paying attention to, and how we decide public policy— of course, we know by now that belief, ideology, and bandwagon slogans matter more often in public policy than logic, science, or facts.

Favorite quotes:
“Shoddy, dismissive language wears us down; jargon muddles our thoughts” (p. 208).

“It is a strange era where a teacher must compete with other forms of entertainment; it suggests an end not only of concentration but also of respect and wisdom” (p. 50).

“The pressure to keep up with the times not only distracts and dizzies us; it upsets and distorts our values. Once we subscribe to the ‘cutting edge’ we lose the ability to judge it” (p. 35).

“When words are overly socialized, they lose their sharpness, truth, and error” (p. 15).

This book was exciting to me because it dives into what my dissertation is all about: social activity in our schools and how different learners and personalities are left out in the cold. I’ll save the best for that project but here are a few highlights that are currently hot fads.

- Those distracting commercial driven clickers teachers are using actually slow down, fragment, and trivialize lessons. Collecting student input and watching it in a graph does not really tell us much about what they truly learned.
- The workshop model produces students and writers who think and write alike. After all, how does a person who has never published a poem teach someone else how to write a publishable poem?
- “Flipped classrooms” that use video instruction will constrict not liberate education.

Overall, this book defines solitude, analyzes how solitude is missing and being targeted in our culture and schools, and gets us thinking about the meaning of learning, literature, and life. Favorite Non-fiction book of the year so far.
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Reading Progress

May 18, 2013 – Started Reading
May 18, 2013 – Shelved
May 18, 2013 – Shelved as: education
May 18, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
May 27, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
July 8, 2013 – Finished Reading
July 20, 2013 – Shelved as: social-science

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