Begin Here: The Forgotten Conditions of Teaching and Learning

Jacques Barzun, Author, Morris Philipson, Editor University of Chicago Press $24.95 (229p) ISBN 978-0-226-03846-9
Mechanized classroom methods and gimmicks are no substitute for the hard work of learning and the art of teaching. That straightforward message shines through these 15 essays and articles (most of them previously published) by eminent cultural historian Barzun ( The American University ) and edited by Philipson, director of the Univeristy of Chicago Press. The Columbia emeritus professor gives a flunking grade to multiple-choice tests, a ``game of choosing the ready-made.'' He views the modern textbook (``its closest analog . . . a travel brochure'') as typical of the way students are ``fed in small mouthfuls,'' and he dismisses numerous curriculum fads as a sop to pupils' restlessness and short attention spans. Trenchant and challenging, this primer holds valuable lessons for educators at all levels. While our public schools are breeding grounds for an army of functional illiterates our universities are becoming assembly lines, observes Barzun. He calls for the abolition of ``slave labor'' whereby poorly paid graduate students teach undergrads, and for the elimination of the ``publish-or-perish'' syndrome that has led to reams of ``junk research.'' (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
Paperback - 229 pages - 978-0-226-03847-6
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