Goldfinch and Lyre Bird

I just re-read The Liar, Stephen Fry's 1991 debut novel, and it's still the funniest thing I've ever read. The antihero, Adrian Healey, careens through life plagiarizing, dissembling, cheating at cricket, and camouflaging his deepest emotions. He's terrified of getting caught (at what? at everything), and fears/hopes that the whole world is just a giant set-up to expose him.It's a heartbreaking book in its own way, scathing but poignant. Adrian's vulnerability comes through from the very … [Read more...]

Bring on the “Loose Parts Pit”!

in case you missed this as it spread around facebook: Ripping up the playground rulebook is having incredible effects on children at an Auckland school.Chaos may reign at Swanson Primary School with children climbing trees, riding skateboards and playing bullrush during playtime, but surprisingly the students don't cause bedlam, the principal says.The school is actually seeing a drop in bullying, serious injuries and vandalism, while concentration levels in class are … [Read more...]

Seven Quick Takes… Almost Friday

Yo. Let's see if this is actually seven or not!"Bullying Prevention Programs May Have Negative Impact." To me the key thing here is the recommendation to focus on "systemic change within the schools," rather than turning bullying into a Thing which you've set aside and spotlit. If you're instilling students with respect for one another and for the teachers, and if teachers and other authority figures aren't tacitly approving of bullying, you are a lot less likely to get to the point where … [Read more...]

“In the Hour of Chaos”: I review Charles Johnson’s short stories

at AmCon: Somebody–I hope a commenter will remind me who it was–has suggested that the Left typically thinks in terms of an opposition between oppression and liberation, whereas the right typically thinks in terms of an opposition between civilization and barbarism. I would reframe the latter opposition as order vs. chaos; if we do that, it’s obvious that both oppositions are unrelentingly relevant, yet few thinkers or artists are able to hold both conflicts before our eyes at once.I just fi … [Read more...]

“The Prison-Education Complex”

takes a few paragraphs to get going but once you're past the irrelevant personal narrative and into the book report it gets good: ...With zero-tolerance enforcement demanding obedience for its own sake, students become accustomed to being threatened with arrest for minor transgressions; many, eventually, are arrested; they get dragged to the police station and miss class; they accumulate summons and have to spend a day at court; some go to juvenile detention or jail. “The school, where they are … [Read more...]

“Religion Is Wasted on the Young”

...It occurs to me that it is precisely the fact that we are intent on teaching religion to the young that makes faith such a prime site for rebellion when emerging adults construct their own identities. As a peer reviewer for a publisher, I recently read the manuscript for a book that was an intellectual attack on Christianity. What struck me was that the sources for the skeptical views the author was commending were leading scholars, while the Christian beliefs were presented through … [Read more...]

“Maybe Whit Stillman Knows What It’s Like to Be a Woman”

Probably the first of many posts I'll be linking from Helen Rittelmeyer's new blog. … [Read more...]