cover image The Pleasure Police

The Pleasure Police

David Shaw, Author Doubleday Books $23 (307p) ISBN 978-0-385-47568-6

President of Bard College for the past 22 years and musical director of the American Symphony Orchestra, Botstein brings his polymorphous intelligence to bear upon the nature and future of education in America. His readers will quickly understand what he means when he says, ""It was not written in anticipation of agreement."" Botstein starts by pointing out the irony of a contemporary America that possesses the means ""to ensure the growth and development of the arts, science, and education"" and its continual invocation of a mythic glorious past. The author sees this national pessimism and the decline of hope in a viable future, as a deterrent to our children's education. If today's adults cannot believe in their future, how can we expect their children to face 13 years of public education with confidence and excitement? Turning to the organization of our schools, Botstein argues that, physically, at least, today's children mature earlier than previous generations, and that the public school experience can be productively shortened to 11 rather than 13 years, with kindergartners starting at age four--a suggestion based on the positive experience of Headstart. In closing his brilliant, controversial discussion, Botstein examines the American college, proposing a set of nine courses and common curricula to give all students a base of shared knowledge. Jefferson's Children is a book that must be read by everyone willing to hope and work for an American educational system that prepares each child for personal fulfillment and productive citizenship. (Oct.)