Two books that provoke

Dear readers,

I haven’t kept up on all the books that are being written about our concerns. Including, and this is new, lots by working teachers as well as recently working teachers. It is hard to do both at the same time—be a full time teacher and find the time to write a book! A friend of mine, Vanessa Rodriguez, a teacher I met first in her classroom, for example, has taken off a few years to further her own education and to write a book. The book, The Teaching Brain: The Evolutionary Trait at the Heart of Education, is an example.

rodriguezI am known as a skeptic about brain research as a useful field for improving good teaching/learning. But Vanessa has taken the field more seriously, and used some of these insights into exploring the field she knows best—over many years. Of course, the “teaching brain” and the “learner brain” are not separate. But then nothing in the brain is disconnected from any other part of the brain—or really the body either. She uses the topic, instead, to explore her own and others in practice—how our awareness of our own selves as teachers (and we all are, at times) is the kind of “brain research” I appreciate. I think others will find this as interesting a read as I have. (It is a New Press publication; and just out.)

I also have not kept up with talking about a man whose been real hero and model in my life. That man, John Goodlad, has died. The summer before I starting CPESS—a public secondary school in Harlem—I holed myself up on Block Island, near my friend Brenda Engel, to read. I read Seymour Sarason (on why all reforms had failed) and John Goodlad (on the large picture of America’s schools). I do not usually take notes, but I did this time. I soaked up what they said and hoped that their wisdom would help me get through the next few years. Goodlad’s book, The Public Purpose of Education and Schooling is written a decade later, steeled me for the next episode of educational history. It is a collection around the topic I am most concerned about. John and co-editor Timothy McMannon, picked six wonderful authors for the task, with a wonderful final chapter by John. Read him—start anywhere among his 30 plus books.

I will share more books in the future. I am meanwhile trying to write one myself. HELP!!!!


2 Responses

  1. This realy struck a cord with me. I have a space where teachers can work in a public school, without the constraints of a standard curriculum. It is spectacular what our teachers create, when let to their own passions. Kids reep the rewards.

  2. You mention one of Seymour Sarason’s books. My favorite is “Teaching as a Performing Art” and his description of his mentor and friend, Henry Schaefer-Simmern–a mostly unheralded art educator.

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