formers, the progressives, the U.S.nOffice of Education (now elevated tonthe status of Department), and othersnstill trying to reinvent the wheel. In hisnforeword to this volume, William J.nBennett as Chairman of the NationalnEndowment for the Humanitiesnwrites: “The educahonal role of NEH,nand indeed of the entire federal government,nis important, but it is supporhvenat best. We can prod, urge,ninitiate, and sponsor; but we cannotnand should not seek to direct the discussionnor implementation of programsnnationwide. Effective teachingnof the humanities in the schools dependsna good deal less on what is donenat NEH, or even the Department ofnEducation, than on what is done bynparents, local school boards, and statenand local officials.”nWhat follows is 14 essays by 15nauthors arguing for the humanities asndisciplines which will educate studentsnto clear and critical thinking whileninfusing in them some modicum ofnunderstanding of our cultural heritage.nBut it is former Columbia Dean, nownAmherst President Peter R. Pouncey,nwho sorts out the prescription fromnamong the proscriptions: “Teachersnshould be fully educated persons in thenbroadest sense.” It is as simple as that.nOverwhelmingly, those asked will immediatelynagree that teachers shouldnbe competent, but mere competencynbelies the deeper meaning of teachingnand ignores the other qualities whichnpresumably are garnered by thosen”fully educated persons in the broadestnsense” who have our children in theirncharge. This assumes that personsnproperly trained in the humanities—nthat broad range of disciplines whichnencompasses and includes literature,nphilosophy, religion, languages, history,nand the arts—will have garnerednmethods of thinking which can engendernbelief in meaningful morality andncaring professionalism, without whichnno teacher ought step into a classroom.nThe several essays which complainnof “mediocrity” are at times just frustratednhashing over the depressing educationalnstatistics, the “dumbingdown”nof textbooks, the inability ofnmany elementary and secondarynschoolteachers to pass basic competencynexaminations administered by theirnstates or districts. While there arenrecommendations for a brighter future,nthe recognition must be madenthat poor teachers produce poorernteachers. As University of WisconsinnProfessor Jon Moline points out, anteacher must know the subject matternhe is teaching well enough to catchnerrors in a textbook, and relatively fewnstates require even an undergraduatenmajor in a particular area in order tonbe certified in it.nIn The Schools We Deserve: Reflectionsnon the Educational Crisis of OurnTimes, a collection of her essays onneducation, Diane Raviteh examinesnsome of the major topics of discussionnamong educational critics, includingnthe use and misuse of tests, the tuitionntax credit controversy, the place ofnhumanities in the curriculum, desegregation,nbilingual education, and thengeneral debate about the quality ofnAmerican education. She complainsnabout high-school diplomas awardednsimply because of attendance and reportsnthat “professors complain aboutnstudents who arrive at college withnstrong convictions but not enoughnknowledge to argue persuasively forntheir beliefs. Having opinions withoutnknowledge is not of much value; notnknowing the difference between themnis a positive indicator of ignorance.”nUltimately, Raviteh concludes, wenwill get the sort of schools we deserve;nif we do not have a national commitmentnto excellence, we will get whatevernelse we have been committed tonin its stead. She recognizes the possiblenimplosion due to special-interestnpleadings which might fragment thenseeming impetus already underway tonimprove our schools and our teachingnby improving our curricula, ournteacher preparation, and our teachernpay, but she approvingly notes thensingle distinction of American schoolsnin their ability to inspire free inquirynand debate.nAnd such debate continues over, ifnnot in, the heads of the nation’s students.nBeatrice and Ronald Gross’s ThenGreat School Debate proclaims itselfn”The First Authoritative Source Booknon the Controversy Over the Qualitynof Our Schools.” The essayists withinninclude Chester E. Finn Jr., ErnestnBoyer, Harold Howe II, Diane Raviteh,nand Albert Shanker. Not a scholarlynbook, its editors plead “readability”nas their excuse for deletingnfootnotes and citations. Such is perhapsnthe most telling commentary onnAmerican education. This unevenncollection, part academic papers andnpart op-ed commentary, is probablynuseful at schools of education, wherenthey teach courses named “CurrentnEducational Trends” and “EducationalnReality in the Inner-City Environment”nand “The Psychology of PublicnOpinion Toward Education/’ Whatnthe authors have to say is predictable tonthe point of parody, but the work isnmaddeningly oversimplified and, likenmost of American education, withoutnfocus.nThese four books represent 40nmore, equally careful or careless,nequally righteous or right-minded,nwhich crawl across desks and bookshelvesnin a poor attempt to recovernground lost to harebrained schemesnand wavering social expectations. Underneathnit all there is a simple refrain,nthe only one which honest teachersnhear: To teach is to teach. The implicationsnof the verb are staggering, yetntoo many who do not accept the implicationsndaily stand in front of ournchildren spouting half-truths, misinformation,nand value-free “morality.”nIn the classroom, however, there is nontime for sham. This is the only chancenour children get, and we have no rightnto ruin it for them.nMOVING?nLET US KNOW BEFORE YOU GO!nTo assure uninterrupted delivery ofnChronicles, please notify us in advance.nSend change of address on this form withnthe mailing label from your latest issue ofnChronicles to: Subscription Department,nChronicles, P.O. Box 800, Mount Morris,nIllinois 61054.nName_nAddress.nCitynnnState_ _Zip_nFEBRUARY 1987 / 23n