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May 1, 1994
Vol. 51
No. 8

Reviews

Talented Teenagers

Talented Teenagers: The Roots of Success and Failure by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Kevin Rathunde, and Samuel Whalen. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Talented Teenagers sheds light on why some students develop their talents while others do not. It also presents some very useful ideas on how to provide optimal conditions for the development of talent.
The text describes a study of 208 9th and 10th graders talented in math, science, music, athletics, and art. In response to electronic pager signals, the students provided detailed written reports of their “activities, thoughts, companions, and feelings.” The students' actual words are fascinating.
The researchers conclude that talent must be recognized and cultivated—we cannot just expect that “talent will out.” The study also yields a profile of talented students who develop their talents: They have specific characteristics that enable them to concentrate in one area that is open to them. They socialized less with peers. They had fewer chores and jobs. They spent more time with their families, who supported and challenged them in the talent area. They believed their talent area to be both enjoyable and useful. And they had teachers who modeled enjoyable and professional involvement in some area of interest and supported their students, both personally and in their interest areas.
Available from Cambridge University Press, 40 W. 20th St., New York, NY 10011, for $24.95.
—Reviewed by Marian Matthews, Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, New Mexico.

Preparing Teachers for Urban Schools

Preparing Teachers for Urban Schools: Lessons from Thirty Years of School Reform by Lois Weiner. New York: Teachers College Press, 1993.
From more than three decades of research on urban schools and Lois Weiner's extensive professional experiences comes the insightful and scholarly Preparing Teachers for Urban Schools. This teacher education plan describes urban schools, analyzes their daunting problems, and addresses the many skills and attitudes that teachers of at-risk urban youth need to succeed. In particular, Weiner writes, teacher education programs should prepare prospective teachers to bridge the social gap between themselves and urban students, arrange field experiences in urban schools, and provide coursework specific to urban schooling.
Weiner takes a systems approach, which allows for collaboration among parents, students, teachers, and teacher educators. This information could be especially useful to teacher educators and urban school policymakers, including officials in state education departments and urban school districts.
Available from Teachers College Press, 1234 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10027, for $17.95.
—Reviewed by Kathleen Montgomery, Elmira College, Elmira, New York.

Changing Schools from the Inside Out

Changing Schools from the Inside Out by Robert L. Larson. Lancanster, Pa.: Technomic Publishing, 1992.
Larson declares that “`Think big and start small' should be posted above all our doors.” By that remark, he means that “small wins” can help build an organization's capacity for dealing with big problems.
School change is possible, Larson concludes from his review the literature on organizations and change and his qualitative study of two Vermont high schools. In fact, the author says, teachers are always initiating changes in schools, though they are usually small and often go unnoticed. To nudge these changes along, Larson recommends that leaders not attempt massive changes in schools (“organized anarchies”) or classrooms (“busy kitchens”). Instead, the focus should be on changing the culture so that it promotes “pivotal behaviors for acquiring ideas” to respond to changes in progress (“pivotal behaviors” are reading, talking, and listening).
The chapter on “levers and footings for change” is particularly helpful to education leaders. It suggests various ways that they can use routine school processes to support change and continuous improvement.
Available from Technomic Publishing, Box 3535, 851 New Holland Ave., Lancaster, PA 17604, for $35.
—Reviewed by Anne Wescott Dodd, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine.

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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