Good reading for Christmas

I’ve been hearing good things about the new book by Diane and Michael Ravitch, The English Reader: What Every Literate Person Needs to Know. Teacher and ex-blogger Ron Isaac writes:

This book … is a scrupulous selection of inspired thought and passion as codified in the immortal conveyance of the English language. It is not limited to literature, strictly speaking. It embraces the great legacy of written speech and does not propagandize or promote literary or political trends of thought for their own sake. Michael and Diane Ravitch, who is the greatest personality in contemporary American education and the chief moral force behind reverence for the genius of tradition, have included some of the huge talents of English literature who are in danger of being forgotten because of the new and morbidly relaxed priorities of schools: Carlyle,George Herbert, Carlyle, Spenser, etc. Unlike the books that insinuate themselves into typical classroom “libraries,” picked for political correctness but usually lacking literary merit,the specimens chosen by Michael and Diane Ravitch do true honor to the dignity of the great issues of the day, such as feminism. For example, instead of having quotes from Oprah Winfrey or Barbara Streisand represent the feminist current of thought, they have Virginia Woolf and E. Pankhurst, the brilliant British sufragette activist and orator. As an English teacher who is distressed to witness the slipping away of expressive power and with it the authority of history and the human heart, I plead with all the folks reading this review to secure this precious book for yourselves and to work hard to prevail upon school boards and other educational decision makers to use it to provide critical learning nutrition to a starved generation.

The book has its own blog.

Of course, your holiday happiness won’t be complete without a copy of my charter school book, Our School. Click the link to order from Amazon or e-mail me at joanne at joannejacobs dot com for an autographed copy, which costs $22, including shipping.

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Comments

  1. Andrew Carter says:

    I just came across an article from “Harper’s” from 2005 with this quote:

    Among the missions of the school, according to the printed statement [above the blackboard in the classroom], which was posted also in some other classrooms of the school, was “to develop productive citizens” who have the skills that will be needed “for successful global competition.”

    Over the desks: “BEST WORKERS of 2002”

    Excuse me, but is the idea that education should be about teaching people to think (that is, to steer them toward literacy, in every sence), has now been replaced by instruction to produced obedient employees?

    Someone tell me I am wrong.

  2. You’ve been hearing good things about this book?

    Ron Isaac writes, “As an English teacher who is distressed to witness the slipping away of expressive power and with it the authority of history and the human heart, I plead with all the folks reading this review to secure this precious book for yourselves and to work hard to prevail upon school boards and other educational decision makers to use it to provide critical learning nutrition to a starved generation.”

    Excuse me, but I think Mr. Isaac needs to put down The Faerie Queen and pick up The Sun Also Rises.

  3. Wayne Martin says:

    The Ravich’s make the following statement: “these are precious resources of language and spirit that we have neglected to preserve for future generations.” Thanks to Google/Books, anyone with an Internet Connection will be able to gain access to the works of Johnson and Carlyle easily, and at no cost:

    The Works of Samuel Johnson, LL.D:
    http://books.google.com/books?vid=OCLC01914553&id=1qN2JbMw2W8C&pg=RA2-PR5&lpg=RA2-PR5&dq=“samuel johnson”&as_brr=1#PPP16,M1

    Wit and Wisdom of Samuel Johnson:
    http://books.google.com/books?vid=OCLC00353839&id=QFMOKxF5zLsC&pg=PA1&lpg=PA1&dq=“samuel johnson”&as_brr=1

    Samuel Johnson:
    http://books.google.com/books?vid=OCLC05202632&id=C2ELAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA1&lpg=PA1&dq=“samuel johnson”&as_brr=1#PPP10,M1

    Letters of Thomas Carlyle, 1826-1846:
    http://books.google.com/books?vid=OCLC00656710&id=dBGzfc248oYC&pg=RA1-PA1&lpg=RA1-PA1&dq=“Thomas Carlyle”&as_brr=1

    Complete Works of Thomas Carlyle:
    http://books.google.com/books?vid=OCLC04519949&id=BHiXDT0u_TsC&pg=RA1-PA1&lpg=RA1-PA1&dq=“Thomas Carlyle”&as_brr=1#PPP12,M1

    History of Frederick the Second:
    http://books.google.com/books?vid=OCLC00406629&id=VnoNAAAAIAAJ&pg=RA1-PR7&lpg=RA1-PR7&dq=“Thomas Carlyle”&as_brr=1#PPP18,M1