All of my children just finished school and, with the exception of my 4 year-old, came home with their summer reading list. With that in mind, I thought I would offer a few suggestions for my colleagues based on my recent reading with the hope that others will offer me their suggestions.
The Influence of Teachers: Reflections on Teaching and Leadership – John Merrow
Mr. Merrow is the education reporter for the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour and has taken some of his reports and put them into book form. The book provides a very readable analysis of many of the pressing issues in education today. Although I found that he stretched the validity of his brief tenure as a teacher, his reporting and analysis on unions, testing, and other pressing issues was insightful.
Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of Teaching can Transform Education – David Perkins
I read this as part of an online reading group this spring. I will confess a bias in recommending this book as I am a lifelong baseball fan and Mr. Perkins uses baseball as a metaphor throughout the book. When we teach children baseball, we don’t spend our entire time teaching one small part of the game. We practice the basics, but alter the game so when they play, they get the full experience of playing baseball. Perkins suggests we use as similar strategy in education.
The Homework Myth – Alfie Kohn
I know Mr. Kohn has a new book out (Feel-Bad Education), but I have not yet read it and therefore cannot recommend it to others. I can’t remember the number of times I advised students that if they did their homework, they would perform better in the course. Mr. Kohn challenges that assumption.
The Monty Hall Problem: The Remarkable Story of Math’s Most Contentious Brain Teaser – Jason Rosenhouse
I add this one as a gesture to the new rigorous probability and statistics standards in the Common Core. Yes, it is a math book, but very readable and interesting for more than just the math. Mr. Rosenhouse shares the history of a problem that has befuddled many a mathematician over the years. He covers the different proofs that have been developed over the years and shares the public controversy that played out as mathematicians disputed the answer. (Hint: always pick the other curtain, but why?)
Two books I am planning on reading this summer:
The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education – Diane Ravitch
A Mathematician’s Lament: How School Cheats Us Out of Our Most Fascinating and Imaginative Art Form – Paul Lockhart