New report puts focus on Liberal Arts

WASHINGTON, DC – You’d think that the National Academies of Sciences would be out there promoting STEM education: the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But a new report questions whether the purpose of education is to provide students with “a path to educated citizenship or employment.”

“There’s no question that a knowledgeable citizenry is a responsible and productive one. President Lincoln surely had that notion in mind when he signed the charter creating what was then known as the National Academy of Science. Indeed, the future generations of Americans would need to be proficient in new emerging technologies. But, ultimately, they would need to put their knowledge of the sciences in context. And, that frame work can only be provided by studying the humanities as well—including history,” according to education advocate David Bruce Smith.

The polls show that the great majority of students and their parents see higher education as the road to a good job. As a result the liberal arts have taken a subservient position to the Sciences as the majors of choice— in colleges and universities— over the past several decades.

Scott Carlson is a senior writer at The Chronicle of Higher Education; in a recent article he argues that the humanities may be equally as important as the sciences. Carlson writes that the “noncognitive skills” you learn from the study of history and the arts, for example, provide qualities employers seek—“pluck and ingenuity” and “cultural awareness and critical thinking.”

As he puts it: “Major in the “useless” liberal arts, and you’ll get the training you need to work for the giants of Silicon Valley and burgeoning creative industries. You will inoculate yourself against the threat of machines and robots that may automate once-stable careers like accounting and manufacturing out of existence.”

Smith, who co-founded the Grateful American Book Prize with the late Dr. Bruce Cole, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, agrees with Carlson’s position on the issue.

“We created the Prize as an incentive for authors and publishers to put a new focus on books of historically accurate fiction and nonfiction. Our aim is to encourage kids to relate to the study of history, because it will help instill qualities that will make them good citizens—with empathy, accountability, resolve and morality. So, Is the goal of education good jobs or good citizens—or both?”

THE GREAT AMERICAN READ: 100 Books, 1 Winner

The Great American Read is an eight-part series from PBS that explores and celebrates the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels (as chosen in a national survey).  It investigates how and why writers create their fictional worlds, how we as readers are affected by these stories, and what these 100 different books have to say about our diverse nation and our shared human experience.

Watch the first episode from PBS and vote for YOUR favorite book. The winner will be announced in October 2018.

Summer 2018 Reading List

Madeleine L’Engle’s A WRINKLE IN TIME
Chaim Potok’s THE CHOSEN
Chaim Potok’s MY NAME IS ASHER LEV

 

Kathy Cannon Wiechman’s LIKE A RIVER: A CIVIL WAR NOVEL
Chris Stevenson’s THE DRUM OF DESTINY
Margot Lee Shetterly’s HIDDEN FIGURES

Summer 2018 Reading List

 

Joanne Greenberg’s I NEVER PROMISED YOU A ROSE GARDEN
Honore Morrow’s ON TO OREGON!
James B. Garfield’s FOLLOW MY LEADER

Summer 2018 Reading List

 

Claudia Whitsitt’s BETWEEN THE LINES
Jean Fritz’s HOMESICK
Louise Fitzhugh’s HARRIET THE SPY

Summer 2018 Reading List

 

Judith Guest’s ORDINARY PEOPLE
Sylvia Plath’s THE BELL JAR
John Steinbeck’s OF MICE AND MEN

Summer 2018 Reading List

 

Betty Smith’s A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN
Ernest Hemingway’s A FAREWELL TO ARMS
Willa Cather’s MY ANTONIA

Summer 2018 Reading List

 

Willa Cather’s O PIONEERS!
J.D. Salinger’s THE CATCHER IN THE RYE
Anne Frank’s THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL

Summer 2018 Reading List

 

 

Summer 2018 Reading List

Smilow Design in G&G Magazine

Timed to our presence at ICFF, we were thrilled to have G&G Magazine feature the some of our newer pieces like the 6 Drawer Dresser and our lighting in their May 2018 issue. Smilow Design in G&G Magazine

How to encourage your kids to read – and learn – this summer

WASHINGTON DC – Summer is almost here, and that means a break from school for so many students.  This is the perfect time to encourage them to read a good book— just for the fun of it.

“That doesn’t mean your children can’t learn a thing or two from an engaging novel –such as Hidden Figures, The Drum of Destiny, or Like a River,” says David Bruce Smith, co-founder of the Grateful American Book Prize.

The titles Smith suggests are past winners of the Prize, and appropriate for young readers. They are also griping page-turners that your kids won’t be able to put down. Most important, adolescents will learn life lessons without knowing it. These books are about America’s history, the space program, the struggle for equality, how the U.S. won its independence, and the grit of the younger generation during the Civil War.

Neme Alperstein is a teacher of gifted and talented students, and a member of the Panel of Judges for the Book Prize.

“We older folks might prefer the feel of a hardcover or paperback for a good read, but our kids rather download their books onto their electronic devices to enjoy these historically accurate novels. After all, we are well into the digital age. Either way you’ll be putting your child on the path to becoming a productive student and, ultimately, a responsible citizen.”

According to Alperstein, many libraries allow students to check books out for the summer—in print and digital versions.

“eBooks are available in libraries across the country.  The range of formats available is intended to expand interest.  For those on the go, recordings are available through the use of various apps, and local librarians will know which those are, and even help with installing them on mobile devices.  You can also search online for free reading apps. And, you needn’t worry about overdue books because digital library books just disappear from your device on the due date—and can be easily renewed,” she says.

You can download books for free—or purchase— directly from services such as Amazon. Or, ask your local librarian to suggest digital resources. Kanopy, for example, has a huge selection of eBooks that can be accessed—at no charge— by using your library card.

“I’m partial to American history related literature, so looking up titles is easy enough using the search term “American history novel” or “American history literature”. The books may not appear free on the list one finds; a local librarian can then assist in finding the eBook you’re looking for in a library elsewhere in the country,” states Alperstein.

Smith and the late Dr. Bruce Cole, a former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, established the Grateful American Book Prize as a way to encourage authors and publishers to produce more books of historical fiction and nonfiction for young learners. Author/publisher submissions of qualifying books for the 2018 Prize will be accepted until July 31.

 

June 2018 Book Recommendations

Bette Davis’s THIS ‘N THAT; the actress takes on her mastectomy, stroke, and daughter’s kiss-and-tell book.

Gene Tierney’s and Mickey Herskowitz’s SELF-PORTRAIT; the actress’s many movies, multiple marriages, and personal tragedies.

Maya Angelou’s GREAT FOOD, ALL DAY LONG: EAT JOYFULLY, EAT HEALTHILY; homemade and heavenly–with less calories.

Virginia Hamilton Adair’s ANTS ON THE MELON; a debut collection of poetry published in 1996 by an octogenarian.

 

 

 

 

June 2018 Book Recommendations