Now how the heck did that happen? One minute we’re breathing a sigh of relief after that abysmally long, cold spring and the next minute summer’s almost over and we’re shipping the children back to school. Ah well. Whether we like it or not, it’s almost schooltime again. Let us then celebrate with a look at some of the newest titles that tell us the good, the bad, and the ugly about our current school system today.
“In this brief and accessible book, two leading experts show that many so-called crises–from the idea that typical students are drowning in debt to the belief that tuition increases are being driven by administrative bloat–are exaggerated or simply false. At the same time, many real problems–from the high dropout rate to inefficient faculty staffing–have received far too little attention. In response, William G. Bowen and Michael S. McPherson provide a frank assessment of the biggest challenges confronting higher education and propose a bold agenda for reengineering essential elements of the system to meet them. The result promises to help shape the debate about higher education for years to come.”
“Drawing on his own experience of feeling undervalued and invisible in science classrooms as a young man of color, Christopher Emdin offers a new lens on and approach to teaching in urban schools. Putting forth his theory of Reality Pedagogy, Emdin provides practical tools to unleash the brilliance and eagerness of youth and educators alike—both of whom have been typecast and stymied by outdated modes of thinking about urban education. With this fresh and engaging new pedagogical vision, Emdin demonstrates the importance of creating a family structure and building communities within the classroom, using culturally relevant strategies like hip-hop music and call-and-response, and connecting the experiences of urban youth to indigenous populations globally.”
Kirkus called it, “Humanities home schooling for adults.” Library Journal said it, “provides a clear guide to educating oneself in the liberal arts through disciplined, critical reading of literary classics.” And Publishers Weekly called it, “a quick gloss of books there wasn’t time to read, plus sound advice on spotting critical fallacies.”
“For the last decade, sociologist Sara Goldrick-Rab has been studying what happens when economically vulnerable people try to make their way through public higher education. Of the 3,000 young adults she tracked who began college in 2008, half dropped out, and less than one in five finished a bachelor’s degree in four years. Additional grant money helped some, but what is clear here is that when college students’ costs are not fully covered, they rarely finish college. If they do, it takes them longer than it should, and they graduate with a substantial amount of debt. In addition to marshaling her date and national data, Goldrick-Rab also adds a human dimension to this story. She focuses in on six students in particular to help make plain the human and financialsometimes to the dollarcosts of our convoluted financial aid policies.”
“This grounded, sensible book offers a ray of light in a dim and frantic world–with the message that before we can teach our youngest children, we must better understand them. In The Importance of Being Little, Christakis explores what it’s like to be a young child in America today, in a world designed by and for adults. With school-testing mandates run amok, playfulness squeezed, and young children increasingly pathologized for old-fashioned behaviors like daydreaming and clumsiness, it’s easy to miss the essential importance of being a young child. She provides meaningful solutions through a forensic analysis of today’s whole system of early learning, from pedagogy and science to policy and politics.”
“In a fit of idealism, Ed Boland left a twenty-year career as a non-profit executive to teach in a tough New York City public high school. But his hopes quickly collided headlong with the appalling reality of his students’ lives and a hobbled education system unable to help them. This is no urban fairy tale of at-risk kids saved by a Hollywood hero, but a searing indictment of reform-minded schools that claim to be progressive but still fail to help their students.”