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An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students Paperback – July 30, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0325005966 ISBN-10: 0325005966

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 13 years
  • Paperback: 156 pages
  • Publisher: Heinemann (July 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0325005966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0325005966
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“. . . an important book for our time, for teachers, teacher educators, and policymakers.”–Ann Lieberman, Senior Scholar, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

“Stop everything youre doing and take the time to really read this. Not once. Not even twice, but over and over. Make your colleagues read it . . . every legislator and policymaker ought to too, so they can see when and where their favorite, best-designed, top-down mandates may actually hinder this kind of culture of high standards. But, of course, what in the end makes it such a good read is in the details, those precious and well-told stories of what the real stuff looks like.”–Deborah Meier, Coprincipal, Mission Hill School, Boston

“Ron Berger is one of the most remarkable teachers in America today. He sets incredibly high standards in his classes and his students measure up to those standards. Yet Ron Bergers authentic standards bear little resemblance to what passes for standards in todays test-obsessed America. For a reminder of what education can and should be, read this passionate book - and give it to every policymaker whom you know.”–Howard Gardner, Harvard Graduate School of Education

“. . . passionate stories from an inspiring, ever imaginative teacher whose demands on his students are high and those on himself even higher. He writes of teaching as an ethic . . . a way of thinking . . . that is built carefully by hand, a craft that defies "scaling up" in mechanistic ways and that requires powerful, autonomous work close to the students.”–Theodore R. Sizer, Founder, Coalition of Essential Schools

About the Author

Ron Berger has been a public school teacher in western Massachusetts for 25 years. He works with the Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound school network, Harvard Project Zero, and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

More About the Author


Ron Berger is Chief Program Officer for Expeditionary Learning. EL is a network of over 160 public schools in 30 states - an organization that partners with districts and charter boards to found public high schools in low-income communities that send all graduates to college, and helps to transform existing public schools K - 12 toward high student achievement, character and citizenship. EL's core work is building teacher capacity through professional development, professional resources and open-resource Common Core curriculum.

Ron was a public school teacher and master carpenter in rural Massachusetts for over 25 years, in the small town of Shutesbury where he still lives and runs daily with The Coffee Cake Club. His writing and speaking center on inspiring quality and character in students, specifically through project-based learning, original scientific and historical research, service learning, and the infusion of arts. He works with the national character education movement to embed character values into the core of academic work.

Ron works closely with the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he did his graduate work and now teaches a course that uses exemplary student work to illuminate Common Core standards. He is an Annenberg Foundation Teacher Scholar, and received the Autodesk Foundation National Teacher of the Year award. He is the author of An Ethic of Excellence and A Culture of Quality, and a 2014 publication, Leaders of Their Own Learning.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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This book reminds us of what real can and should look like.
N. Meier
I think it's great that students take pride in a job well done and hope I can work to build this ethic in my classroom.
Kim Strickler
Inspiring, practical, soulful, and important, this book is a must-read for all educators.
M. Palombo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Meier on October 26, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ron Berger has put together a way of thinking about standards that surpasses anything I've read up to now.
It made me want to start school and teaching all over again, and to feel sad that none of my own children or grandchildren had him as a teacher. This is one of those rare accounts that you KNOW is true. (I happen to know it based on a visit I made to his chool some years ago.) Order it immediately.--send it to a friend amd colleague.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. Sinunu on August 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is a great practical example of how to focus as a teacher. Ron Berger brings to light the trouble with current educational trends and shows ways students can be naturally engaged. His students feel mature, bright and capable. Read this book, follow Ron's example. I finished it in a day and it has changed my whole approach to teaching.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By book lover on July 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
Berger's method consists of allowing students to learn through real-world applications the concepts taught in class. To do this he integrates concepts of different subject areas for the completion of a project that has real-world application. Usually the projects are based on the community. He starts a project by showing his current students past student work. This sets the standard for excellence. As part of the project, the students create several drafts and improve their drafts based on peer-review. Classmates critique each other's work in a safe environment and through this process raise the excellence of their work. This method creates meaningful learning that many of his students cherished for the rest of their lives because their projects improved their community's lives.

As you read it you'll also appreciate Berger's passion for his students. It's an amazing book! I highly recommend it.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mimiinthecity on January 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
"Teaching is hard," Ron Berger writes in this brilliant, inspiring and practical book of craft wisdom. While his primary audience is educators who focus on building school culture, his ideas for cultivating and maintaining an unwavering work ethic of excellence are gems also for parents, clergy and any one with responsibility for developing the mind and character of a child.
"It is through their own work that their self-esteem will grow," he notes citing numerous vivid examples. Berger writes with clarity, candor and humility. His stories inside and outside the classroom form a compelling narrative in support of his case that all children deserve an education that is this demanding and meaningful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James on March 21, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is simply extraordinary. What you have here is not politically correct mumbo-jumbo, nor radical institution bashing. This book is the result of 25 years of Berger refining his own craft (one of many, in fact), namely being a good teacher, evaluating what works and what doesn't, thinking about it deeply, observing patterns, and delivering them in this gem of a book with dozens of anecdotes to prove his points.

Berger's insight into learning, society, community, politics and human nature is astounding. If you yourself are the kind of person who think deeply about this kind of thing you will find that Berger summarises your conclusions in simple sentences with huge impact. I've never thought "exactly, that's exactly what I think" while reading a book as much as this one.

My field is music education and more specifically composition in music education. I have folders and folders of beautiful work made by children who reworked and reworked draft after draft. I felt the pressure of the paperwork to move onto the next part of the syllabus, but resisted it to allow students more weeks to refine their work and make something truly jaw-dropping. Transformative. Inspirational.

This is the approach that Berger takes - but there's so much more in this book. It points out that the route to success (by which he means both happy, engaged children *and* better grades) is not always easy, and involves more of a philosophical approach to our jobs as teachers (and leaders in our communities) than taking up a bunch of dot points to follow. There's a lifetime of hard work to do. And then he shows why it's worth it.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By N. Meier on November 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is an inspiration! Written by a teacher, Berger outlines how his school has created a culture of excellence. Through the use of project based learning as the core of the curriculum, they inspire the students to create products of high standards. He explains how and why they do this. His stories of his students show us how all students can produce amazing work. This book reminds us of what real can and should look like.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JZ on June 5, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Berger's anecdotes and reflections are very captivating can be easily read within a few hours. I believe his project & research based approach with high expectations of students and rework until quality is achieved works and should be a championed approach to engaging students' learning through authentic projects and community impact. I just wish he had more examples of how this could be implemented in secondary education where a teacher can only hold students for an hour a day instead of in elementary school, where a teacher can teach interdisciplinary projects more easily because they hold dominion of the students for the whole day and can devote hours each day to a singular project. Practicality-wise, our secondary & middle schools simply are not going to switch to a 1 teacher format, so I wonder what the best way to is to wrap some of his work into higher grade teaching, because it truly is valuable.
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