Thursday, July 05, 2012

Educational Books for Creative Teaching - to develop the gifts and talents of all students

This is the latest book I have read. I had promised myself to resist buying any more educational books but this is one I couldn’t resist. ‘Learning Without Limits’ faces up to what I have always believed to be the biggest block to developing the gifts and talents of all students – and exaggerating the so called ‘achievement tail’ in the process – the use of ability grouping, setting, streaming at all levels of schooling.

I will add my review when I have finished my reading. The book is based on analysing the classroom practices of nine teachers (selected to cover all levels of schooling). All the teachers selected believe strongly in the destructive effect of ability grouping on the students’ sense of self. Particularly grouping based on two learning areas – literacy and numeracy.

Over the years I have a lot of feedback from teachers thanking me for drawing their attention to books that I have written about on my blog. With this in mind I have searched through my postings for some of the best books that provide courage for teachers to make stand against the current anti educational approaches of a market forces competitive ideology.

Read what one respected principal has to say - is he alone in his thoughts?

So if you have time explore some of the links to some of my favourite books below. After reading my ‘review’ you might want to get the book for yourself – or share the blog with other teachers. How many are you aware of?

Wounded by School - is a powerful book that shows how students’ are affected negatively by schooling – something teachers don’t like to think about!

Mindsets - by Carol Dweck points out clearly why some students succeed or fail.

Motivation -the Drive  toLearn– by Daniel Pink is an excellent book on how to motivate learners.

The Game of School – by Perkins provides the means to ensure all students gain success. See also Smart Schools – an earlier book by Perkins.

What’s the Point of School by Guy Claxton. Claxton is well known to many New Zealand teachers. He believes all students can become powerful learners. ‘Learnacy is as important as literacy and numeracy’

In The Early World ( reprinted 2012 by NZCER) is an inspiration book by Elwyn Richardson New Zealand’s pioneer teacher of the 50/60s .

Experience and Education – John Dewey 1936. A seminal book for enlightened educators.

The Best Schools - by Thomas Armstrong. An excellent book to learn about the learning needs of students at different school levels.

The Underachieving School and How Children Learn by John Holt. Still two of the best books about life in school from students’ point of view.

Catching the Knowledge Wave -  by Jane Gilbert ( NZCER). An excellent book for secondary schools that want to move into the 21stC.

Our Secondary Schools Don’t WorkAnymore – By David Hood  (NZ) Title says it all.

Out of Our Minds – Sir Ken Robinson. If only politicians would take his advice. There must be few who haven’t watched his TED video ( Google it if not). ‘Creativity is as important as literacy and numeracy’ (Sir Ken)

Five Minds for the Future – Howard Gardner and how to transform schools to achieve them. Gardner is well known to NZ teachers for his multiple intelligences research. Currently schools limit themselves to two- literacy and numeracy.

Realizing the Power of Professional Learning – Helen Timperley. A books for creative principals to assist them develop the conditions to realize the creativity of their teachers.

The Passionate Learner – Robert Fried. Practical ideas to support creative teachers. Game of School by Robert Fried
Teaching in the Knowledge Society By   Hargreaves appreciates the need for creative school leadership if schools are to avoid soulless standardised learning.

Books by Stoll and Fink. Another book to inspire school leaders to appreciate it is about learning not just accountability.’ It’s about learning and it is about time.(Lost the link - will search it out!More from Dean. More from Stoll and Timperley

Powerful Learning- by Linda Darling Hammond and others.  An excellent book by a highly respected educator about how to develop inquiry learning across the curriculum. Practical examples. Another excellent practical book is Best Practices full of examples of powerful studies

School As A Home For The Mind –Art Costa. Costa is well known to many New Zealand Schools. The book cover how to develop intelligent behaviours in students -key learning competencies. Author of several books.

The Big Picture - by Dennis Littky A book for anyone serious about transforming secondary schools - for students who fail in our current system

Welcome to the Aquarium – By Julie Diamond. This is a fantastic and reassuring book for those who teach junior classes. All about how a year unfolds in a junior class.

Discovery Time by  Brenda Martin and Gay Hay. This very practical NZ book is a must for those who want to return real discovery learning back into their junior classrooms.

 I Am Five and I go to School by Helen May. This book celebrates the wonderful work done by Infant Mistresses of the 60s that led to the recognition of New Zealand's reputation for creative junior teaching that is now at risk!

 Scientists in the Crib by Gopnik, Meltzoff and Kubl. A really exciting book based on new research about how the very young are born with an innate desire to learn - until they reach formal schooling.  Ideal for new parents.

Be great if you could share with me books that have been important in helping you develop your teaching and learning beliefs. Send an e-mail or add through a comment.


Anonymous said...

This ia quote from a book I like.

“Yes sir, I know sir, and they’re useless sir. They teach facts, not understanding. It’s like teaching people about forests by showing them a saw. I want a proper school sir, to teach reading and writing, and most of all thinking, sir, so people can find what they are good at, because someone doing what they really like is always an asset to any country, and too often people never find out until it is too late.”

“There have been times lately when I dearly wished that I could change the past. Well I can’t but I can change the present, so that when it becomes the past it will turn out to be a past worth having. And I’d like the boys to learn about girls and I’d like the girls to learn about boys. Learning is about finding out who you are, what you are, where you are and what you are standing on, and what you are good at and what’s over the horizon and, well, everything. It’s about finding the place where you fit.I found the place where I fit and I would like everybody else to find theirs.”

Tiffany the witch in : “I Shall Wear Midnight” 2010 by Terry Pratchett

So clearly Pratchett appreciated what a well rounded education was about. What a shame he is a writer not a politician.



Anonymous said...

Hi Bruce
I'm going to do some work with Perkins and others such as Howard Gardner and Veronica Boix-Mansilla at Harvard's Future of Learning in Boston later this month. My school is a Harvard Project Zero partner school so we take this stuff pretty seriously because we see that it makes sense, it's teacher and kid friendly, and it's going to last; it's not an educational fad.

I'm very pleased that you're blogging from Taranaki, still the best place in the world

Anonymous said...

Hi Bruce,

Just a contribution to your reading list. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if each school’s professional library contained each of the books that you recommend? Then....wouldn’t it be wonderful if every teacher read them, There are such beauties.
Remember that principal whose school burned down, and he hadn’t finished colouring in either book in the professional library?

For what it is worth, I’d like to suggest a few of my favourites.

The Geranium on the Window-sill Just Died but Teacher You Went Right On by Albert Cullum.
Wonderful illustrations and pithy poems that reflect the view that some children have of teachers. Ouch.

Teaching as a Subversive Activity by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner.
This inspired me to join with Keith Tronc to write our first book, because these authors issued the challenge : “If you think you know what you are talking about, write a book about it.”
Postman & Weingartner have some telling daffynitions in the book that are worth remembering, such as :- Assembly Line Learning; Creeping Eichmannism; Cheating : Grasshopper Logic; Hardening of the Categories; Information Dissemination; Label-LIbel gambit; Parkinson’s Law of Triviality; Rea-vision Mirror Syndrome; Seductive Method of Learning; School Syllabus; Taxonomy; Vaccination Theory of Education; Ventriloquize.

Pygmalion in the Classroom by R. Rosenthal and L. Jacobsen.
Liza Doolittle in the classroom. The book describes the self-fulfilling prophecy : How one person’s expectations of another’s behaviour can become an accurate predication, simply because it was made.

The Shrinking of Trehorn by Florence Parry Heide.
The story of a little boy, the emblem of all small children whose condition adults ignore.

Couldn’t miss the last one, Bruce.

Anonymous said...

What books do the neo liberal/conservative politicians follow - or are they influenced only by 'right wing market forces' economists of their own choice? All about narrow targets, individualism and choice ( for the rich)? All about privatisation of all aspects of life and to hell with the common good.

Schools, as tradtionally structured and streamed, already do a good job sorting out winners and losers. Current policies are just making the system more efficient. Tinkering not transforming.

The books you identify , if implemented, would lead to a true transformation of education so as to realise the potential of all -everyones gifts and talents not just the elite class.

I wonder how many school principals have read any of them?

Bruce Hammonds said...

Politicians avoid or denigrate educationalists - our current govermnent is , as you say, led by ideology and can't see past it.

As principlals they may or may not read boks but it's the putting the ideas into action that counts.

Mind you it takes a courageous principal to stand up against compliance requirements. Thankfully some do.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bruce,
brilliant list that, thanks heaps!
I would add John Taylor Gattos books Dumbing us down and A different kind of teacher as personal favourites. Scary how the education system he describes is becoming so much like ur own.
Cheers, Struan

Bruce Hammonds said...

I know of John Taylor Gatto but only have read his views in Tom Peter's great book 'Re-Imagine'.

I wrote a blog of Gatto quotes along time ago.

And you are right - we are heading down the business/corporatised approach of the USA that sidelines teacher voice.