An ambitious and well-argued approach to redesigning the educational environment to better respond to student needs.



An educator proposes a research-based teaching method that incorporates broad aspects of the human mind and personal development.

In this second edition of his debut book, Watagodakumbura makes a case for what he calls “authentic” education, a holistic practice that maximizes learning by being more responsive to students’ needs and concentrates on deep lessons rather than rote memorization. The work guides readers through research on brain development, learning styles, and the creation of knowledge (Daniel Goleman, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Daniel Siegel, and Rick Hanson make appearances in the text, as do frequent mentions of Bloom’s taxonomy and Maslow’s hierarchy), delivering a greater understanding of what it means to be educated. The author establishes the many ways in which contemporary educational environments do not meet student needs and keep pupils from reaching their maximum potentials, and he shows how many aspects of modern life could be improved by a wider approach to the learning process. He then provides readers with examples of how authentic techniques can be used in the classroom while acknowledging the difficulty of implementing these strategies within the current education milieus. The book is aimed at students of pedagogy and classroom teachers who deal with the practical applications of education research, and it stays focused on its specialist audience throughout the text. Watagodakumbura is passionate about the potential benefits of authentic education. The work serves as a generally compelling argument for revisiting the traditional approach to teaching and learning, acknowledging that it represents a substantial change from the status quo: “Authentic education per se is a catalyst for a holistic transformation our societies need in the educational forefront, not a patch to be applied, to be swayed in the presence of economic or market changes with a narrow perspective or to suppress one problem until we encounter another, much bigger one.” The arguments are based on solid and substantial research, with full citations. While the volume skillfully addresses the conceptual aspects of the education system’s shortcomings, it is particularly effective in identifying concrete, accepted practices that limit students’ potential development, such as the use of multiple-choice questions and the imposition of artificial time limits. The book also does an excellent job of explaining why adapting to the neurodiversity and varied needs of the student population is a benefit both to individual pupils (who are not marginalized by rigid definitions of learning and achievement) and society (which gains the talents of more productive folks while isolating fewer who do not conform). The author presents a strong case for the dramatic changes he advocates and the benefits of “an integrated human development-focused sustainable system.” The prose is occasionally awkward (“Many students, especially in teenage and early adulthood, may feel the learning environment in a more neutral manner”; “Under prevailed social contexts”). But there are also plenty of vivid metaphors and imagery that will draw readers’ attention and make the complex topic manageable.

An ambitious and well-argued approach to redesigning the educational environment to better respond to student needs.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-0721-1375-1

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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