This report is potentially very important. On the other hand, it could have no impact whatsoever. If Washington reads the Commission findings and recommendations, and funds the five billion dollar programs it recommends, science and mathematics education in the United States could get the "shot in the arm" that it so desperately requires. "A Nation at Risk" was published in 1983.
Computers play an increasing role in the life of children (along with everyone else). How much is too much? More and more educators, physicians, and child development professionals are beginning to recognize that time in front of CRT (whether on a computer or a TV) is time that is not spent in interaction with the real world.
I have to admit that I haven't finished reading this book. With over six hundred, large-format pages and relatively small type, it would probably not have made "Hal's Picks" until next year if I had waited until I had completed it. However, it is entirely possible to dip in for a chapter here and a chapter there.
Henry Petroski, Professor of Engineering and Professor of History at Duke University, is a master at "humanizing" engineering by writing about the history and development of familiar objects such as paperclips and pencils. He seems to relish the challenges involved in writing engagingly to non-engineers about some of the most mundane objects in everyday life - things that we take for granted.
We all, and both candidates for President, agree that that our educational systems need to adhere to the highest standards of excellence, that "social promotion" in schools is a bad thing, that students should have to demonstrate basic competences before they receive high school diplomas, and that schools, teachers, and students ought to be rewarded or punished on the basis of judgements render
Some Americans believe that the history of the earth is about to end, and they have been making ultimate preparations. Alex Heard has gained the confidence of quite a variety of these sometimes amusing, sometimes pathetic, sometimes scary people and organizations.
I feel that I know Robert Park, who was director of the Washington Office of the American Physical Society when this book was published, because of his weekly "What's New" column [see http://www.bobpark.org/bob.html], even though we have never met.
This is the first time that something not printed on paper has been chosen for Hal's Picks, and it probably will not happen often in the future. This particular subject is, however, better treated in digital format than in a book (although several good books on Edgerton and his work are also available).
A year or so ago, I greatly enjoyed reading another book by Lisa Jardine, "Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance", but I couldn't justify it for "Hal's Picks" because it didn't have much scientific content. When I heard about "Ingenious Pursuits", I bought it from a book club and read it right away.