Friday, January 23, 2009

To the Top of the TBR

My TBR pile is growing by the minute. The most recent additions are more generally related to my day job. The first won't be released until April (Phooey!), but the second is available now. Here are the titles I can't wait to read.
Description from Publishers Weekly: Tooley (Reclaiming Education) documents his surprising finding that private schools are providing quality education to millions of poor children in the developing world. Whereas development experts insist that the path out of poverty lies in investment in public schools, the author draws on his fieldwork in India, China and Africa to argue that small entrepreneurs are educating the poor. In one region of India, 80% of urban children and 30% of rural children attend private schools; in China's Gansu province 586 private schools are located in small villages, even though the state prides itself on its public system. Contrary to accepted wisdom, the modest fees of private schools are within reach of most, and parents find them superior to public schools that are often riddled with corruption and incompetence. Tooley argues that development funds be invested to support these institutions, through vouchers to parents and microfinance loans to the schools. The author's engaging style transforms what could have been a dry if startling research report into a moving account of how poor parents struggle against great odds to provide a rich educational experience to their children.

You can read a bit more about the title in the Jay Matthews article entitled The Hidden Flaws in China and India Schools.

Racing Odysseus: A College President Becomes a Freshman Again, written by Roger H. Martin
Description from the Publisher: The idea of reliving youth is a common fantasy, but who among us is actually courageous enough to try it? After surviving a deadly cancer against tremendous odds, college president Roger H. Martin did just that — he enrolled at St. John's College, the Great Books school in Annapolis, Maryland, as a sixty-one-year-old freshman.

This engaging, often humorous memoir of his semester at St. John's tells of his journey of discovery as he falls in love again with Plato, Socrates, and Homer, improbably joins the college crew team, and negotiates friendships across generational divides. Along the way, Martin ponders one of the most pressing questions facing education today: do the liberal arts still have a role to play in a society that seems to value professional, vocational, and career training above all else?

Elegantly weaving together the themes of the great works he reads with events that transpire on the water, in the coffee shop, and in the classroom, Martin finds that a liberal arts education may be more vital today than ever before. This is the moving story of a man who faces his fears, fully embraces his second chance, and in turn rediscovers the gifts of life and learning.

1 comment:

  1. As one who thinks a liberal arts / classical education is as relevant now as it ever was I'm looking forward to this book as well. It's always nice to have one's prejudices endorsed!