School Zone: Educating America’s Children
Amy Wilson, instructor, School of Education
University education in the United States long has been a model for the world. But the American public system for schooling the 12 grades below college is a wreck, especially for minority and disadvantaged kids. This course will sample the ever-growing literature on what is wrong and what ought to be done.
- Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America, by Paul Tough. Portrait of a man who says if you really want to educate the nation’s poor children, don’t just change schools—change everything in their lives, including how they’re raised.
- The Challenge to Care in Schools: An Alternative Approach to Education, by Nel Noddings. How schools might address the issues facing students today through an ethic of caring.
- Our Schools Suck: Students Talk Back to a Segregated Nation on the Failures of Urban Education, by Gaston Alonso et al. As the impolite title indicates: student voices speaking out about the problems of urban schools.
Musicians on Music
Michael Hersch, composer and faculty member, Peabody Conservatory
Collected prose by artists more accustomed to wordless expression. Class readings will demonstrate that more great musicians are able writers than great writers are able musicians.
- Composers on Music: Eight Centuries of Writings, edited by Josiah Fisk and Jeff Nichols. Expanded version of the notable 1956 anthology. More than 100 composers, from Hildegard von Bingen to Oliver Knussen, writing on their art.
- Sviatoslav Richter: Notebooks and Conversations, edited by Bruno Monsaingeon and Stewart Spencer. Interviews with and excerpts from the notebooks of the great 20th-century pianist who once said of Vladimir Horowitz, “Such talent! And such a trivial mind.”
- Orientations: Collected Writings, by Pierre Boulez. Essays by the contemporary composer, some with great titles. For example: “Aesthetics and the Fetishists” and “Putting the Phantoms to Flight.”
Einstein Just Shakes His Head: Readings in Quantum Physics
Adam Falk, physicist and dean of the Krieger School
Antiquarks, blackbody spectra, Higgs bosons, leptons, gravitational lensing, fermionic dimensions, zinos, winos—if you’re a quantum physicist, the universe is one weird place. Pretty weird for the rest of us, too. This course will make students conversant with some of the best far-out thinking on how everything fits together.
- QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, by Richard P. Feynman. One of the great all-time explainers takes on quantum electrodynamics, the QED of the title.
- The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory, by Brian Greene. Can superstring theory reconcile general relativity and quantum mechanics? Greene believes it can.
- The Mystery of the Missing Antimatter, by Helen R. Quinn and Yossi Nir. Right after the Big Bang, there was slightly more matter than antimatter. According to the standard model of particle physics, this should not have been true, but we owe our existence to it.
- Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions, by Lisa Randall. The universe may have something like 11 dimensions. Go ahead, sketch that out on a piece of graph paper.
Next: The nature of corporations, the state of nursing, mistaken bankers and failed states.