"Plan for the students you actually have, not those you wish you had, or think you used to have, or think you used to be like."
So John N. Gardner, the creator of the term "first-year experience," advised college officials charged with making sure that the experience is a good one. In other words, be realistic; don’t expect too much of students.
That mind-set contrasts with the one evoked by the New Yorker writer David Denby in his new book, Lit Up: One Reporter. Three Schools. Twenty-Four Books That Can Change Lives. The New York Times last week noted, "Lit Up is a refreshing lesson in what motivates students and why not to dumb down reading lists." Denby opens a window into the classrooms of several gifted high-school English teachers who assign Faulkner, Orwell, Frankl, Dostoevsky, Hemingway, Shakespeare, Poe, and Twain — and whose love of reading is contagious to their teen students.