Thursday, October 7, 2010

#Edreform Required Reading List

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:

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:

There seems to be something ominous and troubling about the mood of these book titles. Somehow they make me feel depressed, like we are failing, like I am failing, like we are worthless, like we are broken. While I do think it is important for the continuation of the dialog to read what is new I will hold out on whether any of these are truly important in the long-view of education reform. The fact we are still reading the books in the >10 year group is a testament to their relevance. I think for the purpose of Twitter Book Club I will stick with the older set.

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:

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