The Discipline of Hope by Herbert Kohl

August 9, 2008

Herbert Kohl is the most important educator of his generation. No one describes the practical life of classrooms with such grace, nor connects the commonplace to the larger circles of economic circumstance, historical flow, political power, and cultural context with such compelling force. In The Discipline of Hope, Kohl draws critical lessons from a lifetime of teaching, activism, and reflection.

In the tradition of John Dewey, Herb Kohl shows us teaching as intellectual and ethical work, life-changing and earth-shaking. At the heart of Kohl’s vision is the child yearning to grow and to contribute

Tales of the Dolly Llama by Guy Kuttner

August 9, 2008

One teacher’s long journey to a kind of enlightenment, this is the best piece I’ve read on teaching in years. Not only does Kuttner nail issue after issue with laser-like precision, but he manages to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted with humor and brief anecdotes, avoiding both the puffed-up academic pose and the grim earnestness of the wounded and the self-righteous. I really loved it.

She Would Not Be Moved by Herb Kohl

August 9, 2008

Herb Kohl revisits the fabled story of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott, turning it upside down in search of a truth beneath the authorized and largely whitewashed version. She Would Not Be Moved is a small book with a big message—it’s destined to become a classic.

On the Outside Looking In by Christina Rathbone

August 9, 2008

Like Dickens and de Tocqueville, whose American journeys in the last century challenged us to look at ourselves in new and surprising ways, Rathbone’s outsider perspective provides more than a ‘thick description’ of some distant and abstract subculture. On the Outside Looking In is in the end a powerful mirror held up to our American dream—what we behold is a frighteningly fragile future and a world in desperate need of repair.

Organizing the South Bronx by Jim Rooney

August 9, 2008

Organizing the South Bronx is a story of heroic and articulate individuals who were able to defy overwhelming odds and build affordable housing in the South Bronx. It is about the process of teaching citizens in a low-income neighborhood how to fully and effectively participate in public life. Very little is written about the catastrophic and precipitous collapse of the South Bronx, although its fate is universally cited as emblematic of urban hopelessness. This inquiry focuses on community organizers sifting through the wreckage and making progress in battling an inept municipal government and the centrifugal forces of decay. The locus is a coalition of forty church congregations who battled the city of New York for vacant land in order to build owner-occupied row houses. It’s a compelling lesson in how to educate adults in a democracy to find their voices and wield their collective power as organized and engaged citizens.

An Elementary School in Holland by Loren Barritt

August 9, 2008

An Elementary School in Holland overflows with powerful lessons for American educators: the importance of community in the lives of teachers and students, the value of small school size and intimate face-to-face relationships in children’s growth and development, the usefulness of collaboration among teachers. Loren Barritt has given us a remarkable, dynamic portrait of one school that works.

This Happened in America by Ronald Evans

August 9, 2008

Ron Evans brings one of the giants of American education fully to life in this thoroughly researched and vividly rendered biography. Harold Rugg was a driving force in the progressive schools movement, and the leading figure in the development of social studies as an area to challenge the deadening standardization that characterized the schools of his day. Rugg knew that education could never be neutral, and he fought for a vision of schools as a central force in the reconstruction of society along lines of freedom, participatory democracy, creativity, and justice. Evans captures Rugg in all his three-dimensional and contradictory splendor.

Trusting What You Know by Miriam Raider-Roth

August 2, 2008

So much of what’s wrong in our schools today is simply the ho-hum of common sense and the hum-drum of tradition tooling along mindlessly like a wind-up toy off its leash. Even if the intent was never mean-spirited or vicious, the results may be malevolent, even catastrophic for students and teachers alike. Miriam Raider-Roth recognizes that there’s nothing more dogmatic than common sense, nothing more insistent than tradition, and in Trusting What You Know she asks us to hold our received wisdom as contingent and ready for critical reconsideration.

Raider-Roth beams in, then, on the human relationships at the center of classroom life—students with one another, students with a teacher—and clarifies with laser-like precision the ways in which learning, growth, and the production of knowledge are enacted and embedded within those webs. She rejects the single-minded promotion of autonomy and self-sufficiency as educational goals, and favors, rather, the creation of a classroom culture of trust and on-going participation in community. She dismisses the notion that through education we ought to grow out of relationships toward a higher, individuated self, and illuminates instead a sense of what we might gain if we would embrace the idea of growing into relationships—the recognition that individuality is always an achievement within a social surround.

At once a lively story told in the voices of four animated twelve-year-olds and a conceptual argument challenging central tenets in the canon of teaching, both a handbook for teachers and a philosophical brief, Trusting What You Know will change the way we understand life in classrooms.

With this revolutionary text, Miriam Raider-Roth has produced a masterpiece.