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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 20, 2007 / 8 Tishrei 5768

Re-opening the American mind

By Suzanne Fields


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The first hint of autumn, a sudden cool night making a sweater feel right and a bright day without the stifling humidity of summer, fills us with the remembrance of the ambivalent emotions about "back to school." We remember the pleasure of seeing old friends, but we remember as well the hard chairs that overnight replaced the sensuous luxury of beach towels on sand. We wax nostalgic about the delight in discovering new ideas in books, but few of us miss the adolescent pressures of high school.


This "semester" we're getting a white-hot debate over how to prepare the rising generation for life in the 21st century. It's about time.


No public-school program generates more controversy than the "No Child Left Behind" legislation of 2001, or as one cynic describes it, "No Child Left Alone." The motives behind the legislation were mostly good — to get all children proficient in reading and math — but teachers have often been required to "teach to the test," and critical thinking is limited to figuring out how to answer questions so that test scores are high enough that school districts don't lose federal money. The goals perpetuate the notion that children and teachers are like Xeroxed copies of each other.


An emphasis on reading and math, however laudable, has had the unintended consequence of converting the humanities into a second-class muse. This pervades higher education, too. On many college campuses, there's a solemn dirge sung softly over the decline of the humanities as multiculturalism and political correctness continue to poison the wellsprings of critical thinking.


But finally other voices in other rooms are rising above stale thinking, examining what we've lost since the great books were reduced to relevant and trendy treatises. Allan Bloom, who wrote a bestseller in 1988 called "The Closing of the American Mind," railed against the dumbing down of the university, of how the idioms of rock and rap had infiltrated the Academy and diluted an appreciation for great writing. He won the argument, but lost the war. Identity politics trumped all. But the traditionalists who were routed haven't been idle, and reinforcements are cantering, if not yet galloping, to the rescue. There's a revival of the idea of free inquiry, an alien doctrine little understood and fiercely resented in many faculty lounges.


As the costs and casualties in the culture wars are being calculated, common sense is coming out of a coma. "However polarizing Bloom may have been, many of the issues he raised still resonate — especially in the humanities on campus and in the culture," writes Rachel Donadio in The New York Times. The subtitle of Bloom's book still gives a jolt: "How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students."


Anthony Kronman, a law professor at Yale, shows how colleges, in abandoning the profound questions that have perplexed philosophers and writers throughout human history, have betrayed their students, depriving them of disciplined rumination before they're caught up in the urgent business of adult life. In "Education's End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life," he writes that in emphasizing the secular, professors offer no recognition of the spirit and spiritual values.


It's impossible to read King Lear or Hamlet without questioning the deepest human values. Because John Milton is a dead white man, the erudition of his poetry is discounted (or ignored). The political and religious issues he raises in "Paradise Lost" would animate any discussion of democracy, terrorism and war, but raising questions is not the aim of much that passes for higher education. Milton's debate of the devils over how to perpetuate the war against G-d, "which if not Victory is yet Revenge," has much to tell us about our own times.


Students arrive on campus yearning to think big thoughts and often get political polemics from little professors with small minds. Tenure depends on publishing articles in arcane critical language in scholarly journals nobody reads. Many teachers are unable and unwilling to teach outside their constricted disciplines.


When I taught English literature to college sophomores in the '60s, attitudes were quite different. We studied the grand sweep of history from Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," with all of its human diversity in the pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral, to T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland," with its instructive aridity and spiritual emptiness. Such surveys fell out of fashion, more's the pity. It was a wonderful way to spark curiosity, enabling students to choose whether to probe deeper. Many did. The Bard, dead white man though he was, would understand: Let us not to the education of true minds admit impediments.

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© 2006, Creators Syndicate, Suzanne Fields

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