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Summer Reading Recommendations for Educators

By Deborah Meier

Dear Joe and friends,

Joe Nathan and I will continue blogging together for the next two weeks and then relax for the summer--reading. And swimming. And I'll be back in September.

It's that time of year when we are getting excited about our summer vacations.  Hopefully.  Some, I assume, can't afford them. But for those who can, I hope you are laying aside books to read.

Here's some of my reading list ideas. They come in no particular order (not even alphabetical), but they just happen to be what's my bedside table or somewhere like that. With new books, I often start with the index in the back to see if I'm quoted or whether Ted Sizer is. Virtually none on the latest to-read list include either of us. But perhaps that's a good sign--there are so many good books that take our ideas into the new century. I'll add a few more before I quit for the summer.

To start, there are my perennial old favorites. In particular five of my many favorite authors. If you haven't read these, please do so. Or re-read them.

The Having of Wonderful Ideas by Eleanor Duckworth.

How Children Fail (revised edition) by John Holt. This one changed my life.

The Informed Vision by David Hawkins. A collection of his essays of science and science teaching. 

Horace's Compromise by Ted Sizer.  It needs to be reread annually. 

Reading Without Nonsense and/or The Book of Learning and Forgetting by Frank Smith.

Plus, from the past two years, you might try some of these.

American School Reform by Joseph P. McDonald tells the story of work I was involved with in New York City, and I thought he got it pretty close to the truth. It reminds us of what "could" be ...

The End of the Rainbow by friend Susan Engel in a succinct, readable, and thoughtful way connects happiness, money, and schooling.  She gets it.

Always Wondering ... A Mélange of Eleanor Duckworth and Critical Exploration (published by Critical Explorations Press).  It's full to ideas of the sort that liberate.  

No Citizen Left Behind, by Meira Levinson. I decided to read this because it won the Michael Harrington Book Award.  Mike, an influential writer and activist, was my friend and hero. It deserves the award.

Deeper Learning by Monica Martinez and Dennis McGrath is probably a good read describes eight schools that sound good as examples of why the new reforms that I hate are actually good for democracy. 

More Than a Score, edited by Jesse Hagopian, is a terrific collection of essays by teachers, students, parents, administrators, and activists about the current state of the anti-high-stakes-testing movement. It includes a chapter by Phyllis Tashlik about an alternative approach that meets the highest standards without standardization and that 49 high schools in N.Y. State have been allowed to use to replace the usual tests.

Educating Our Children for the Common Good, by Joel Westheimer, is one of his many books defending and exploring the connection between democracy and schooling.

And, of course. You can pick up books by Deborah Meier (maybe 'n oldie like The Power of Their Ideas.)


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