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American Educator
Winter 2004-2005


Table of Contents


Reflections on the "Problem Novel"
Do These Calamity-Filled Books Serve Up Too Much, Too Often, Too Early?
By Barbara Feinberg

Once upon a time, the books we gave our young may have been too sweet, too removed from reality. Has the pendulum swung too far in the other direction? A writer and mother reflects on the pros and cons of the "problem novel"—that ubiquitous subgenre of adolescent literature in which tragedy piles on tragedy.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: A Novel That Offers Pain, but Also Solace

Snowflake Science (PDF)
A Rich Mix of Physics, Math, Chemistry, and Mystery
By Kenneth Libbrecht

We all marvel at the beauty and intricacy of snowflakes, but few of us can explain how they come to be. You'll be surprised to learn that they are not frozen raindrops and, despite the pattern on your sweater, they never have eight sides. You'll also be surprised to learn that scientists haven't yet fully figured out the causes of snowflakes' complex patterns.

Preschool Pays
High-Quality Early Education Would Save Billions
By Robert G. Lynch

Would you spend a dollar today if it could save you three dollars tomorrow? Of course. Wouldn't you want your government to do the same? It can. By spending $19 billion now to provide high-quality preschool to all poor three- and four-year-olds, this economist calculates that by 2050, America would save $61 billion per year.

The Benefits of High-Quality Early Education

Extrapolating from One Program...

Ask the Cognitive Scientist
Understanding ADHD
By Daniel T. Willingham

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder seems to be in the news (and our classrooms) constantly: What is it, how is it diagnosed, and how should it be treated? Our cognitive scientist provides the facts with an eye toward helping teachers deal with ADHD in the classroom.

Agamemnon for At-Risk Teens
An Ancient Classic Delivers Relevance and Rigor

By Rick Ayers

The further behind students are, the more they need rigorous content—how else could they ever catch up? This teacher leads a class with a bad reputation through the Oresteia and is reminded that great literature can resonate across the divide of centuries.

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About American Educator

American Educator is a quarterly journal of educational research and ideas published by the American Federation of Teachers. Recent articles have focused on such topics as reducing the achievement gap between poor and affluent students, heading off student discipline problems, teaching an appreciation and understanding of democracy, the benefits of a common coherent curriculum, and other issues affecting children and education here and abroad. Total circulation, as of our most recent issue, is over 900,000.

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