The typical program for "classroom management" focuses either on discipline (how to be assertive and fair) or procedures (how to plan ahead to avoid problems). These are both useful tools, but there is a subtext to these discussions: the ideal classroom is free of conflict, and if there is conflict, it is either the fault of the teacher or the student. But, as any real teacher will tell you, a classroom free of conflict is a fantasy.Students and teachers can't help but bring their clashing values, hopes, fears, struggles at home and with their friends and innumerable other issues into the classroom. And these issues are bound to cause conflict. Teachers are typically presented with two options: be strict, or be permissive; either the teacher uses his/her power to quell the students regardless of their needs, or students use their power to get what they want, regardless of how the teacher and the class suffer, and the teacher lets it slide hoping to get back to teaching. There has to be a better way!In T.E.T., Thomas Gordon applies the highly successful and popular method developed for families in P.E.T. (Parent Effectiveness Training) to the classroom. Very schematically, T.E.T. involves 3 steps. First, identify who is really having the problem. If a students are talking too loudly for the teacher to be heard, the teacher is having a problem and needs to communicate that to the students as a first step. If a student is daydreaming instead of working, the student is having a problem and the teacher needs to be able to listen dispassionately to find out what is wrong. Second, use "I Messages" and "Active Listening" to get to the heart of the problem (both these techniques are described in detail). Third, if a solution doesn't present itself immediately, T.E.T. describes a conflict resolution method that can help both teacher and student get their needs met without using power plays. Gordon suggests (I think rightly) that it is the use of power to solve problems that engenders the defensiveness and resentment so common to student-teacher relationships.T.E.T. won't solve everything. Good procedures are still needed to reduce the number of situations that lead to conflict. And power based discipline is still needed in extreme cases (e.g. weapons in the classroom). But, by using the methods described in T.E.T., teachers can establish more honest and respectful relationships with their students and reduce the time wasted on power plays and petty games, leaving more time for real teaching.Three final notes. Teachers may run into kids who have had such bad relationships with the adults in their lives that they can't help seeing teachers as enemies, to pushed and attacked whenever possible. T.E.T. may not work right away with these kids, making classic discipline neccesary.People who don't like T.E.T. on the first read usually see it as simply another version of anything-goes permissiveness. But Gordon tries to make clear that anything that is a problem for the teacher 'is' out of bounds and 'needs to be fixed'. Its just a question of fixing the problem through dialogue instead of force.Finally, I was basically raised on P.E.T. by my parents and I have never met anyone who has a more open, honest, and mutually respectful realtionship with their parents than I have with mine. It really can work!!
Ana Castillo’s The Guardians is a character study describing life, culture and social conditions of Mexican immigrants along the border. There are four central characters. Regina is a middle aged teacher’s aide who supplements her meager income with a productive garden and unproductive small business ventures. She lives with her nephew Gabo, a solitary and extremely religious teenager. The central cast is filled out by Miguel, a history teacher at Regina’s school and dilettante radical, and his grandfather, El Abuelito Milton. Castillo works hard, perhaps too hard, to position the book in its cross-cultural border context. Spanish words and Hispanic cultural objects are liberally sprinkled through the text and it seems that someone in the two main families was involved in every significant event and movement in border history, particularly those of the political left. I was surprised that someone’s grandmother wasn’t credited as an extra on “Salt of the Earth.”The plot centers on the disappearance of Gabo’s father (Regina’s brother) on one of his periodic trips across the boarder from Mexico and the dispirited efforts of the four main characters to locate him. But even though this event brackets the novel, it does not prove central to the heart of the book. And it is here that Castillo is at her best, describing poignant scenes in the lives of the main characters. I particularly liked the indeterminate character to the relationships in the book which struck me as realistic. I also appreciated Castillo’s simple, matter-of-fact narrative voice.However, Castillo’s narration is also the central flaw of The Guardians. Formally, the book is told in the first person by each of the four main characters in alternating sections. Creating four distinct voices is a serious literary challenge, and one Castillo does not meet. Although, the four characters have different interests and talk about different things, they all speak in the author’s voice. Several times I started new section without glancing at the heading (the headings are the character’s names) and read a few paragraphs before I realized I had switched characters. If Castillo had succeeded in creating four distinct voices any of my other criticisms would fall by the wayside.Finally, I was rather puzzled by the political message of the novel. On the surface there is a strong left wing message espoused by the characters. But in the end the politics, like much of the Chicano cultural idiom, felt like window dressing, not an integral part of the characters’ lives. They have memories of past heroic struggle and complaints about the present but not an active involvement in working for change. The real villains of the story are gang members and drug dealers, portrayed with conventional horror at their anti-social behavior, some liberal guilt that perhaps they are victims too, but not much depth.
The first thing prospective readers should know is that this is not (despite the implication of the title) a general review of of Israeli-Palistinian-US relations. Almost half of the book is taken up by a detailed analysis of the 1982 war in Lebanon. This would have made sense in 1983 when the book was originally published, but 20 years it later makes for a skewed focus. The first few chapters provide some rather spotty background history. And the additional material in the new addition is essentially a few slightly reworked Z Magazine articles which are not integrated into the rest of the book. Even for the events focused on, this book is not designed as a complete history. Rather, in typical Chomsky fashion, it is designed to be an antidote the to incomplete history provided by the mainstream media. The style of the book is also classical Chomsky; an almost stream of conciousness flow of information demolishing the standard historical explination and bolstering his own. However, put together, these two factors make the book difficult to follow for a reader not already well versed in the events.Despite these flaws, I am generally persuaded by his analysis. However, after slogging through this book I felt that the lasting knowledge I will take from it could have been fit into 100 pages rather than 550. So unless you have a serious interest in the 1982 war in Lebanon this probably isn't the book for you.Given recent events, Fateful Triangle unfortunantly takes on renewed relavence.
Whittier tracks, in some detail, the development of the radical women's movement in Columbus, Ohio, centered at Ohio State University, from its beginnings in the late 1960's, all the way through the '90s. She seeks to explore how and why the feminist movement changed so radically in both ideology and culture over the years.Her central conclusion is novel and well supported by her evidence. She argues that the women's movement changed, not because the women grew up and abandoned their radicalism, or because feminism had won all its battles, but because each new group of women that entered the movement found a new political environment and therefore developed an new feminist worldview.Whittier shows how this process actually occurred every few years, with each new group (she refers to them as micro-cohorts) developing a slightly different feminist perspective, while the older activists retained their original views.On this narrow level her thesis succeeds beautifully. However, her concept of movement generations is presented as having more general worth as a sociological theory of social movements. Here she only half succeeds. Her insight that movements alter their own social contexts, and therefore new recruits develop new perspectives should be generalizable. However, the other half of the coin, that activists retain their original worldviews even through changing circumstances, is tainted by the location of her study. College campuses have a naturally high turnover rate and she argues that internal movement dynamics increased this turnover. Separation from the movement is a simpler explanation for static ideologies.Overall, a solid work in social movement sociology.
Utter nonsense.The basic intellectual procedure seems to be thus:Take commonplace and stereotyped social observations and jam them into dubious theoretical constructs. Then build these constructs into an edifice that purports to explain all of human behavior. Never look back for alternate explanations, or even to see if the resulting theory stands up to reality.Furthermore, Freud's main argument sells humanity extremely short. He seems to believe that human behavior can be explained as the attempt to seek pleasure in the fulfillment of instinctual drives like sex and aggression, or as the "sublimation" (whatever that means) of these drives into other activities. What a dim and constricted worldview.I have a difficult time understanding how Freud could ever have been taken so seriously.
Proust’s epic opens with what I can only describe as an extended prose-poem on the subject of memory which will continue as the most important theme of the novel. The action, such as it is, begins with the description of the childhood vacations the narrator (never named) spent in Combray surrounded by his rather eccentric family and neighbors. One senses that many of these characters will appear again as the novel progresses, but from the start it is clear that chief among them is a dilettante bourgeois, friend of the family - one M. Swann, whose chief failing is that he “married poorly.” Towards the end of the first section the narrator happens to see Gilberte, Swann’s daughter at a distance during a walk through M. Swann’s property. The memory of this first sighting sparks what might be considered the longest digression in literary history as the narrator proceeds to recount the story of M. Swann’s love affair with Odette de Crécy. The book closes, once again, with the narrator in Paris and his childhood friendship there with Gilberte. For such a long book, there is in fact very little plot. My Modern Library edition includes a synopsis which condenses the 600 pages of text into less than 5. But, after all, plot isn’t really the point. The characters and the actions are merely the starting point for Proust’s descriptive apostrophe on the human condition. Specifically, on the way in which our memory is not a simple record of past events, but is rather in a constant interplay with our emotions. And even in translation, Proust has created in these lush descriptions some of the most beautiful prose I have ever read. It is for the language, not the story that one reads Proust.So why give the novel less than a classic (5 star) rating? For all of the beauty of the writing, I found that I was simply unable to identify with the character of Swann. So throughout the soaring and crashing emotional journey of his affair with Odette I remained at a distance, and this detracted from my experience.
I will not attempt to provide a full review of this extensive book, instead constraining myself to the following comments.For those who are not Russophiles, or typically readers of the "Classics," don't be put off by the length of Karénina. The novel was originally published in serial form and is easily read in pieces. Tolstoy was also writing something of the soap-opera of his day replete with love triangles, deceit, betrayal and tragic death.Of course Tolstoy was also dealing in deeper issues, and I will mention only one which stood out in my mind. A clear theme of the novel is the "double standard." But I think that for Tolstoy this is in simply, or even primarily, a matter of the social norms governing sex. Anna defies the social restrictions placed on women by leaving the husband whom she doesn't love and who has no real love for her, and going to live with the man she does love. Of particular transgression is the fact that she does this openly and honestly rather than retaining the facade of a marriage while indulging in an affair. For these crimes Anna is ostracized from society, stripped of her child and has her life unendurably constricted.Contrast this with Konstantin Levin (who I would argue is the main character of the novel). Levin is abysmal at everything society says a man should be. As a young man he a failure at courtship. He is totally uncomfortable in society. He has no interest in politics. He has some intellectual ideas, but can't relate to the academics. He runs his estate in an unusual manner which does not accord to the norms of social class. And worst of all, he is a non-believer in an Orthodox society.Yet although these failings trouble Levin personally, none of them bar him from society and at every turn he is given second chances. In the end he is able to come to terms with his beliefs and his life in his own way.I think it is the fact that Anna is barred from a similar path to a personal understanding of morality that is Tolstoy's chief complaint against the social treatment of women.