- Paperback: 410 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books (1983)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0465026966
- ISBN-13: 978-0465026968
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #524,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Good High School: Portraits of Character and Culture
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About the Author
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Ms. Lightfoot wanted desperately to find 'good' in American high schools. She traveled from New Engliand to the Midwest to ferret out this goodness. She openly states that she doesn't care for the negativity that so many writers display in their books and articles about the US secondary education system. She was determined to find good people doing good things. She found them.
Unfortunately the reader is left, after reading "The Good High School" with hundreds of doubts, reservations and questions. Occasionally Ms. Lightfoot peers down dark corridors at the schools she visits; she hints that not everyone is happy, contented, dedicated professionals. But just as she spots potential trouble she quickly steers her narrative back to the sanguine, uplifting, hopeful fairy tale she set out to write.
In Sarah's world all teachers are divided into three groups: bad, good and 'stars'. She reveals that some of the schools she visited steered her to the latter group yet she doesn't seem to find this unsettling. And never does she dare to nuance her judgments about teachers. Could it be that a teacher could be a 'star' in the eyes of administrators and something less to some of his or her students? Could a teacher be good at discipline but bad at pedagogy; a star when it comes to honors students but a chump with non-college-bound kids? Sarah doesn't say. Such distinctions would spoil the nice, two-dimensional (good and evil) world she lives in.
You won't be surprised that the only person who comes in for unmitigated criticism in this book is Jonathan Kozol. She makes no reference to writers like John Taylor Gatto, John Holt, Herbert Kohl or Frank Smith. None is listed in her bibliography. She relates in her last chapter that the book is "portraiture' based on research with an aim toward objectivity, yet no data is produced and little or no supporting evidence is ever given for her assessments of the people and institutions she evaluates.
Sarah Lightfoot is a nice person, obviously. I recommend her for the job of paving the road to hell. She'd be a natural.