The other day I asked a few people on Twitter what three books, if they could, would they require all those involved in the education reform debate to read. Jon Becker suggested that I start a Google Form for this question, indicating that the responses I get might be interesting and valuable. This question was asked in an attempt to guide my own personal choices in books to read for Twitter Book Club. Restricting the list to three books would require respondents to limit their selection but also encourage authors to list more than just their own.
This question was also derived from examination of the nature the debate is taking in popular media. Education reform and education in general is a complex issue not well reduced to sound bytes and drive-by messages. The nature of this platform tends to lead people to invest in quick solutions and accept short-sighted answers. One strength of literature is its ability to engage people in deeper dialog or deeper thinking about issues. In generating this list I hope to help move the debate, even if ever so slightly, to a more appropriate venue.
Please consider adding your own choices to this list:
See the responses to this question here:
So far, at the time of this blog post, the following authors seemed to gather the most attention on this list:
- John Caldwell Holt (3 mentions)
- Neil Postman (3 mentions)
This is rather early and there is quite a bit of diversity in the list.
Another way to sort this list is by the copyright date of these books. The majority of the books on this list are less than three years old. I think it is too early to tell which of those will have staying power and continue to be relevant ten, twenty, fifty, or even one hundred years from now. Those books on the list older than ten years include:
- Mind Set!: Eleven Ways to Change the Way You See--and Create--the Future John Naisbitt 1943
- Education and the Cult of Efficiency Raymond E. Callahan 1962
- How Children Fail John Caldwell Holt 1964
- How Children Learn (Classics in Child Development) John Caldwell Holt 1964
- Teaching as Subversive Activity Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner 1971
- Deschooling Society Ivan Illich 1971
- Schoolteacher Dan Lortie 1975
- Place called School John I. Goodlad 1984
- 36 Children (Innovations in Education) Herbert R. Kohl 1990
- The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education Grace Llewellyn 1991
- Moral Leadership Thomas J. Sergiovanni 1992
- Borderliners Peter Hoeg 1993
- The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School Neil Postman 1996
- The Schools our Children Deserve Alfie Kohn 1999
Also "anything by John Dewey" should be on this list but since no specific book was given I couldn't enter it into the sort.
It might also be interesting to examine which books published this year made it on the list:
- The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education Diane Ravitch 2010
- The Flat World and Education: How America's Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future Linda Darling-Hammond 2010
- Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? Seth Godin 2010
- Rework Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson 2010
- The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don't Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need--and What We Can Do About It Tony Wagner 2010
I am currently reading Postman's (1996) End of Education and I have Alfred North Whitehead's (1967) The Aims of Education waiting on my bookshelf for when I finish. From these recommendations I think I am going to order and read the following books for Twitter Book Club after I finish Whitehead: