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.