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.

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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.


Immigrant Students in Our Public Schools by Laurie Olsen

July 17, 2008

Laurie Olsen has lived her life breaking down the walls of ignorance and borders of fear, fighting for immigrant rights, tolerance, understanding, and unity. More than a portrait of a school, this is a portrait of America.


Taught by America by Sarah Sentilles

July 17, 2008

Taught by America is a book of ‘teachable moments’—those surprising, unanticipated spurts of learning every teacher recognizes as both most authentic and most enduring. Here the most sparkling teachable moments belong to the teacher herself. Powered by idealism, Sarah Sentilles discovers the limits and potential corruption of a savior complex. Struggling to meet the vast needs of her students and their families, she comes to see that an indifferent and hostile system is a form of violence that can undo both good intentions and hard work. Hoping to be of service to the downtrodden, she discovers a deeper and more effective position in solidarity with the oppressed. Sarah Sentilles’s journey contains an injunction: we must change our lives.


Teaching Malcolm X

June 18, 2008

Karen Salazar, an LA teacher, was fired for being “too Afro-centric,” notably teaching The Autobiography of Malcolm X. At a time when banning books is back in style in many quarters, and the right to think at all is under steady and screaming attack, Salazar deserves the support of all citizens, teachers, students and parents. Find her students’ protest on You Tube. Speak up for free thinking and open dialog.