Here at last is a book that challenges the two dominant forces in American education: an aggressive nostalgia for traditional teaching (“If it was bad enough for me, it’s bad enough for my kids”) and a heavy-handed push for Tougher Standards.
Teacher-turned-writer Alfie Kohn takes on traditional-education giants like E.D. Hirsch, along with practically every state government "raising the bar" and toughening standards, in this attack on the back-to-basics movement. An established critic of America's fixation on grades and test scores, Kohn has written a detailed, methodical treatise that accuses politicians and educators of replacing John Dewey, the father of public education, with test-tutoring king Stanley Kaplan. The current standards movement that demands students learn a list of dates and facts prepares kids for Jeopardy, Kohn argues, not real life. He joins David C. Berliner and Bruce J. Biddle (The Manufactured Crisis) in questioning whether today's schools are truly floundering, warning that romantic memories of the old school, with its tests, worksheets, and drills, are purely that--memories romanticized by time and perception.
Kohn backs up his argument with research and observations from like-minded reformers such as Deborah Meier, but his position is nothing new. Rather, it is a volley back at traditionalists, a direct counter to Hirsch's 1996 book The Schools We Need, which Kohn critically dissects at length, even accusing Hirsch of incorrectly generalizing footnoted research. Kohn also takes issue with the backlash against the whole-language approach to reading instruction (though this argument wears thin, given that many schools have already moved beyond the debate to use a combination of whole language and phonics). The overall message of The Schools Our Children Deserve is a valid cautionary tale about the future of American education that deserves to be heard out by teachers, policymakers, and parents. --Jodi Mailander Farrell
- ISBN13: 9780618083459
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