Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Why School? Join the conversation

Title: Why School? Reclaiming Education for All of Us

Author: Mike Rose

Publisher: The New Press (2009)

Hardcover: 192 pages

I don't tout a book that I've never read, just as I don't give students a writing assignment that I haven't already written myself, but the National Writing Project book group ning is having an online discussion of this book and the coversations have been quite intriguing. Imagine, adult conversation centered around big questions. It made me feel like a professional again. If you too are yearning for those adult conversations, this is a great group to join.

From the New Press website:

A powerful and timely exploration of this country’s public education goals, and how they are put into practice, by the award-winning author and educator
I ask how to educate a vast population, what to teach and how, who will do it, what the work will mean. We still ask these questions because we haven’t satisfactorily answered them. And the way we answer them says a lot about who we are—and what we want to become.
—FROM WHY SCHOOL?

In the tradition of Jonathan Kozol, this little book is driven by big questions. What does it mean to be educated? What is intelligence? How should we think about intelligence, education, and opportunity in an open society? Why is a commitment to the public sphere central to the way we answer these questions?

Drawing on forty years of teaching and research, from primary school to adult education and workplace training, award-winning author Mike Rose reflects on these and other questions related to public schooling in America. He answers them in beautifully written chapters that are both rich in detail—a first-grader conducting a science experiment, a carpenter solving a problem on the fly, a college student’s encounter with a story by James Joyce—and informed by a deep and powerful understanding of history, the psychology of learning, and the politics of education.

Rose decries the narrow focus of educational policy in our time: the drumbeat of test scores and economic competition. Why School? will be embraced by parents and teachers alike, and readers everywhere will be captivated by Rose’s eloquent call for a bountiful democratic vision of the purpose of schooling.

About the author: Mike Rose, a professor in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, is the author of Lives on the Boundary, The Mind at Work, and Possible Lives. Among his many awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Grawemeyer Award in Education, and the Commonwealth Club of California Award for Literary Excellence in Nonfiction. He lives in Santa Monica.