by Leon Botstein
A work of Dennis Prager-style imitation analysis, Jefferson's Children mixes trite truths with common nonsense. Botstein proposes a nine-part general studies reformation for American colleges. These reforms rename and reorganize what is already taught, except books by Monster Cody will no longer be bibles in English 101. The biggest change Botstein proposes is requiring classes in non-Western languages. The idea that college level language classes are a waste of time and money for college students never surfaces in Jefferson's Children. Formal foreign languages classes should be taught at an early age or not at all.
Unlike Prager, Botstein has not included tabloid elements. The result is as boring as it is weak. One chapter consists of 24 bromides so banal even the quotable quotes editor at Reader's Digest might gag on them.
In the best part of this book, Botstein argues for the elimination of high school. High schools are stultifying and irrelevant, claims similar to those found in the much better work The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager.
Count this book as part of the sample that says American education stinks most at the top. Not recommended. Book review by JT Fournier.
-- J.T. Fournier