Jonathan Kozol Anne Nelson - Essay

Anne Nelson

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Children of the Revolution] retraces the [1961 Cuban literacy] campaign with the practiced eye of an educator, and then, startled and passionate, moves on to tell us how the society is building an educational system, how the education is creating society….

Children of the Revolution is as enthusiastic as [Death at an Early Age] was pessimistic, but Kozol is careful to show us that he is not being "set up" with pre-planned visits to model schools. His enthusiasm is a matter of both evidence and tone: when he begins a chapter, "Those who are resolved to find the flaw in Cuba's efforts to eradicate illiteracy (on the supposition that there has to be one)" … we are ready to follow.

Despite his enthusiasm, the book is no simple-minded apologia for Cuba…. For all his admiration for the goals of Cuban education, its politics can create a valuable tension in his thought. One senses his regret in an interchange with three schoolchildren when he can't persuade them that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are worthwhile. (p. 449)

Children of the Revolution makes no claim to be encyclopedic; at the same time it makes a case for such a study. It is an intelligent, personal book, and Kozol is right in saying it is not for anyone with his mind made up about education, socialism or Cuba. The book was not written to convert, but it raises the right questions. (p. 450)

Anne Nelson, "The Classroom Revolution," in The Nation (copyright 1978 The Nation magazine, The Nation Associates, Inc.), Vol. 227, No. 14, October 28, 1978, pp. 448-50.