Thursday, March 11, 2010

A review is not the book.

Yes, I am overdue in saying something about Diane Ravitch's book, and I intend to. But in the meantime I will just say this: The reviews of a book are not the book. Especially when I wrote Tested, I was amazed at how people misinterpreted what I wrote; later I would learn they did not read the book but only reviews of it. So an offhand comment by Sandy Kress in National Journal's conversation about how the feds would hold states accountable on RtTT hit a raw nerve for me.

Kress was disappointed with Ravitch's opposition to RtTT. He wrote, "I searched through all the reviews I could find of her new book. My goal was to climb the mountain of all the ideas and practices she's come out AGAINST since her conversion to find something she's actually FOR."

Nothing against book reviewers, because I am occasionally one. But if you want to understand someone's arguments, you have to read their work and not just what others write about them.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think Kress's comment about Ravitch is valid (and I have read her book -- which I had preordered -- I've read "Tested" too, for that matter). She addresses what she's "for," including a recommended national curriculum that includes a rich diversity of areas of study, strong neighborhood schools that are community centers, respect for teachers, and a willingness to tackle the tough work bit by bit rather than look for magic feathers that will instantly allow you to fly. (I'm going by memory rather than going and finding the book and quoting.) Isn't Kress's willingness to voice a public opinion based on reviews analogous to students who write book reports based on Spark Notes or whatever the latest is?