Sun 19 Mar, 2006 07:13 pm
I'm screwed. After writing for many hours on a paper which is due this week, I read it out loud to my housemates. They noted it was a book report and I relaized I was in BIG trouble. I am to be writing a book review, not report. The reviews I know are on the backs of book covers and at amazon.com - not lengthy or academic. I feel lost. What do I do? How can I save my report - do I need to start anew?
What are the main differences between book reviews and book reports?
To me the difference would be that a report you are giving your opinion of the book while a review is basically an overview without critical analysis.
I'm probably not going to be very helpful, but when I think of book review, I think of something that includes the writer's opinion of the book in question. Do you have an opinion about the book? Are there places where the author lost you or was less than descriptive? Is the author wrong about something or did they miss an important point? Those kinds of things.
When we had to give a book report in school actually what we gave was a synopsis of the whole book. Pretty much telling the story in so many words or less. You might be able to keep some of what you have.
In a book report, you don't critique the book, you tell it's story.
Ok, now how do I stop freaking out?
Deep breath and a shot of vodka.
First, start with deep breaths. Next, go back and tweak what you already have written with a little more critical input. Voila ! You're doing fine.
Here is my original first draft. It's awful, even as a book report, but I want to put it here to go back to while I write the new one.
Deborah Meier Book Review
In contrast to the over-sized idealist schools of New York city, a new type of school with progressive, student-centered curriculum was needed. Deborah Meier believed in using the progressive theory to bring students' home life into the classroom and starting a system wide school reform based on the democratic process to help produce effective citizens. In the schools she founded, Central Park East and Central Park East Secondary School, she wanted to get away from the idealist philosophies of the massive public schools of mainstream New York city and build a show place for democracy in action using a student-centered progressive approach.
This paper will look at how the smallness of CPE and CPESS makes for a manageable progressive democratic school, how mutual respect facilitates the democratic process, and how the public school system allows for democracy through equal accessibility.
In order to practice democracy in a school, it must be small. Communal decision making, an important factor in any healthy democracy, is easier to achieve with small numbers of people, because all can meet and debate a topic face-to-face. MeierIn a bigger school, the dress-code debate (110) couldn't have happened in a democratic way. The small school can also adapt to changes and rethink previous decisions quickly and efficiently. "In short, smallness makes democracy feasible in schools, and without democracy we won't be able to create the kind of profound rethinking the times demand"(110).
The path of any given student is influenced by many factors, including teachers, parents, students and their local communities. By including representatives from these four groups in the processes of the greater school and the individual student's education, committies keep a balanced and fair perspective. This progressive, student-centered method allows home and school to each advise and, together, come to a common understanding of what's in the student's best interest. Meier invited the student into the teacher-parent exchanges, the student is welcome to come and be his own advocate (27).
Finally, small classroom size facilitates a progressive teaching style, allowing the teachers to know their students and help them on an individual basis. Students in CPE and CPESS are allowed to restructure information through the 5 intellectual habits of mind (41) which instills a solid method for critical thinking which will enable them to be effective members of their democracy later in life.When the teacher isn't so preoccupied with managing large numbers of students, he can allow the children more time to learn in a natural way - by exploration and experimentation (152). Assessment in a small progressive school is personal, it takes time. Teachers can't spend the time they need to assess projects and improvements in this personal way if they have dozens of students to grade.
Mutual respect is what makes democracies work. If you don't respect your fellow citizens debatable issues turn into insurmountable differences with neither side inspired to consider the opposition's stance. In a school, there must be respect between student and teacher, teacher and principle, parents and teachers and among members within each of these groups. Students, having learned how and when to respect the people in their youth, will be respectful citizens who will be able to have constructive debates on societal and political topics in their adult lives.
In order to run a classroom in a progressive manner, a teacher must be free to interact with her students in various ways according to the moment at hand. This progressive teaching style only works if that teacher has the ability to make her own decisions in the class room. The principle should be a principle teacher (127) who coordinates and leads the school with an eye to allowing teacher autonomy and an ear to the advice and opinions of teachers, students, parents and the greater community. Respect among the teachers at CPE and CPESS allow them to give and accept constructive criticism and collaborate together. And, of course issues which come up can be dealt with in a democratic fashion, with respect for opposing views.
Mutual respect within the school instills trust and comfort for all parties and allows the school to have a healthy relationship with the local community as well. Respect for community leaders, inviting members into the school for discussion, and listening to students' parents' concerns all make for a healthy and balanced teaching environment.
Public school systems are a tool of our democratic society. All children have equal access to public schools, they are funded by public taxes, and have public accountablity. Private schools, vouchers or not, cater to small sub-groups and create disparity between different races, religions, economic classes. They represent a capitalistic view rather than a democratic one. Meier believes that we should move towards making our public schools competative with private schools while making them more democratic in practice. Furthermore, she believes that by depriving large chunks of population a solid education, we would be weakening our society as a whole beacuse we would lose "...the kind of clash of ideas that will makes us all more powerful"(11).
Learning how to successfully live in a diverse culture is something that can be achieved through experience guided by the teacher in a thoughtful and collaborative way. In public schools, students can learn tolerance and understanding by interacting with their fellow students. In private schools, such diversity is lacking (77-78). Meier brings parents and community leaders into the classroom (a progressivistic technique) as well as having students discuss their own experiences in order to facilitate understanding one another. These techniques will provide valuable tools when these students grow up and become engaged in society.
A school run on democratic principles enables kids to learn good habits of learning to use as students and involved citizens while a progressive setting gives the kids tools they need to view their world in a critical and open way. Public schools provide democratic structures on which to build. When we build up a respectful environment for students in a small scale setting, teach them democracy through demonstration, and teach them how to learn, we set them up for a life long love of learning and with the ability to be good citizens.
I'm not sure I understand the freaking out part. If you just found out that you dad had cancer, that would be a reason to freak out.
Book report/review quandries fall very, very low on the freak out list.
what did you take away from this book that none of the blurbers/logrollers did ? There is your answer.
Not being able to find your litter box is also a good reason to freak out.
Speaking of books, whenever I find myself without a scratching post, shredding a good book will do in a pinch.
Liontamer, I have no idea who blurbers and logrollers are.
Just think of it like a critic who reviews a play. He tells you the story of the play, but he also gives you his opinion of it.
If you were doing a report on a work of fiction, you'd tell the story and maybe discuss some of the symbolism in the book and what the author was trying to say.
In a review, you tell the story, discuss the author's point, then give your own opinion about it.
You're doing fine. You've already got the major points of the book outlined. Now all you have to do is go back and add in your opinion. Do you agree with author's theory about small schools, mutual respect, etc.?
It's weird. I can't use the first person ("I"). I am to write on the successes of the school. Where/how does a personal critic come into it?
Thankfully, Dasha is here to slap me every now and then.
That's strange that they won't let you use the word "I."
I guess what they want is a more objective critique based on actual results.
So you can just go through each major point and say, something like, "this approach seems to have worked well, because the students grades improved during the school year by 50%." Or, "this particular theory didn't have the desired results because student absenteeism increased over a six month period..."
(I'm totally making this up, it probably doesn't even pertain to the points in your book! I'm just giving you an example of how I would provide a critique based on results rather just my own opinion of the author's theories.)
I hope that helped!
you're doing fine. review takes a lot of summarizing, too, no matter what the prof said.
is this the book that inspired you to start the mutual respect as the foundation for democracy thread? if so, why not throw in a paragraph or two in there about it...even if it is somewhat of a digression. it cal always be tied to the topic of democratic education. was that the most interesting idea that jumped out at you?
I actually did think about tying in that thread.
Thanks, dagmarka! (lap, lap, lap, lap, lap....)
As always, dag has the right idea.
Blurbers and logrollers are professional writers who suck up to each other. Some are writers, some are critics, (failed writers) and others are just complete idiots with large bank accounts.