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Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids and What We Can Do about Itby Andrew Hacker Claudia Dreifus
The authors make an incisive case that the American way of higher education, now a costliest business, has lost sight of its primary mission: the education of young adults. They call for a thorough overhaul of a self-indulgent system and take readers on a road trip from Princeton to Evergreen State to Florida Gulf Coast University, revealing those faculties and institutions that are getting it right and proving that teaching and learning can be achieved; and at a much more reasonable price.
The interview is the DNA of journalism, the nucleus from which all life flows. Newspaper and magazine writers draw vital information, and sometimes inspiration, from government documents or corporate memos. These days, many journalists are chained to their computers, surfing the Internet for material. But it's all lifeless data without an interview, without going out to learn what real people think. Even if the reporter does nothing more than put a quick clarifying question to an expert on the phone, he is conducting an interview. And how he has thought out that question and worded it can spell the difference between producing something people will want to read or toss aside.
Dr. Benjamin Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon, describes what it feels like to dig around in someone's brain. Dr. Leon Lederman, Nobel laureate, displays the wry humor that has earned him the title :the Mel Brooks of the physics world. : Pulitzer Prize-winning author John McPhee reveals how he cam to terms with the vastness of geological time and that he once tied himself to a chair in order to write. Ira Flatow, host of National Public Radio's Science Friday, recalls how his childhood fascination with electrical outlets almost caused him to blow up his mother's bathroom. Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees discloses his astrological sign. In these thirty-eight interviews, originally published in the weekly Science Times section of The New York Times, Claudia Dreifus brings all of her colorful personality to bear on her subjects, as well as an arsenal of philosophy, literature, current events, and an unmistakable curiosity. As each conversation unfolds, we learn surprising and fascinating things about some of the most intriguing figures and issues in science today. Dreifus's outsider status in the world of science is perhaps one of her greatest interviewing strengths. A political journalist for much of her career, she stumbled into a position at the Science Times. With little more scientific background that the average person, she scrambled to prepare for her meetings with some of the greatest minds across a broad range of disciplines-from astronomy to geology, from biology and medicine to computer science and mathematics. She soon found herself in a refreshingly candid environment, so unlike the one she had known on the political beat. It is from this perspective that she makes science tangible, accessible, and entertaining. When you add a deep-rooted scientific curiosity to the savvy of a crack political reporter, you get more than just extraordinary chemistry: Claudia Dreifus reminds us that interviewing can be an art form.
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