In For the Common Good, Charles Dorn challenges the rhetoric of America’s so-called crisis in higher education by investigating two centuries of college and university history. From the community college to the elite research university—in states from California to Maine—Dorn engages a fundamental question confronted by higher education institutions ever since the nation’s founding: Do colleges and universities contribute to the common good?
Tracking changes in the prevailing social ethos between the late eighteenth and early twenty-first centuries, Dorn illustrates the ways in which civic-mindedness, practicality, commercialism, and affluence influenced higher education’s dedication to the public good. Each ethos, long a part of American history and tradition, came to predominate over the others during one of the four chronological periods examined in the book, informing the character of institutional debates and telling the definitive story of its time. For the Common Good demonstrates how two hundred years of political, economic, and social change prompted transformation among colleges and universities—including the establishment of entirely new kinds of institutions—and refashioned higher education in the United States over time in essential and often vibrant ways.
What can the richly imagined, impressively adaptable fantasy world of these children tell us about childhood, development, education, and even life itself? For fifty years, teacher and writer Vivian Gussin Paley has been exploring the imagery, language, and lore of young children, asking the questions they ask of themselves.
In The Boy on the Beach she continues to do so, going deeper into the mystery of play as she follows Eli and Marianne through the kindergarten year, finding more answers and more questions. How does their teacher, Mrs. Olson, manage to honor and utilize the genius of play to create an all-inclusive community in which boys and girls like each other and listen to each other’s stories? Why is Paley’s fellow teacher Yu-ching in Taiwan certain that her children pretend to be kittens in order to become necessary to the group? And why do teachers in London see their childrens’ role-playing as the natural end to loneliness in the school community?
Rich with the words of children and teachers themselves, The Boy on the Beach is vintage Paley, a wise and provocative appreciation of the importance of play and enduring curiosity about the nature of childhood and the imagination.