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Inside Teaching: How Classroom Life Undermines Reform [Paperback]

by Mary Kennedy
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 1, 2006 0674022459 978-0674022454 8.2.2006

Reform the schools, improve teaching: these battle cries of American education have been echoing for twenty years. So why does teaching change so little?

Arguing that too many would-be reformers know nothing about the conflicting demands of teaching, Mary Kennedy takes us into the controlled commotion of the classroom, revealing how painstakingly teachers plan their lessons, and how many different ways things go awry. Teachers try simultaneously to keep track of materials, time, students, and ideas. In their effort to hold all of these things together, they can inadvertently quash students' enthusiasm and miss valuable teachable moments.

Kennedy argues that pedagogical reform proposals that do not acknowledge all of the things teachers need to do are bound to fail. If reformers want students to learn, they must address all of the problems teachers face, not just those that interest them.


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Editorial Reviews

Review

An absolutely outstanding book, and a major contribution to the literature on teaching. Inside Teaching advances our understanding of teaching practice by giving a disciplined, empirical account of the ways in which teachers conceive of and enact their practice, and [relates it to] current debates about education reform. Every student in my class will be reading this book. (Richard F. Elmore, Gregory Anrig Professor of Educational Leadership, Harvard Graduate School of Education)

Anyone interested in the relationship between policy and practice, the (slow) progress of reform, and the nature of teachers' work in the face of persistent but shifting reform pressures will find Inside Teaching a remarkable contribution. (Judith Warren Little, Professor of Education, University of California at Berkeley)

This thoughtfully conceived and clearly presented study sheds light on typical teacher concerns and approaches and concludes with the recommendation that reform initiatives will succeed only if their authors are responsive to the full range of complexities that teachers face on a daily basis. (Jean Caspers Library Journal 2005-03-01)

A wonderful new book...The reader is likely to come away from Inside Teaching wondering whether the real problem isn't reformers' unrealistic expectations. Essentially, they're expecting teachers to be all things to all people--an expectation we don't have of any other group of professionals. (Teacher's Magazine 2005-08-01)

Every teacher will recognise the constant feature [observed by Kennedy], the unpredictable kinetic energy in every class of children and the fact that if something can go wrong, it probably will. Grasp this fact, Kennedy says to the baffled reformer, and your various policies for school improvement will work better. Fail to grasp it, and they may not work at all. Worse, they could be counter-productive. (Michael Duffy Times Educational Supplement 2005-11-11)

Kennedy...does something of immense value to all those who would reform teaching practice in America: she opens the door to the classroom and describes--precisely and respectfully--what teaching looks like. More important, she asks teachers to think and talk about their intentions, beliefs and priorities. Unlike much educational research, where an observer breaks teaching behaviors into incomprehensible bits, or writes about teaching from the perspective of the expert, Kennedy's portrayals of teaching ring true. Any well-meaning reformer would exponentially increase the likelihood of success by reading and understanding the challenges of mundane daily teaching practice that Kennedy illustrates...The greatest contribution of the book is Kennedy's careful and nuanced analysis of why reforms so often fail...Kennedy clearly believes that both challenging curriculum and good teaching are critical to school reform--and that teaching can and must be improved. Her clear-eyed and very accessible approach to better teaching, learning and schools is an enormous gift to those whose passion is a great teacher for every kid. Mary Kennedy has achieved the near impossible: she's written a book of solid research on teaching that every teacher should read. (Nancy Flanagan Teacher Leaders Network 2005-12-01)

Inside Teaching is an important read for policy makers and other decision makers; it is a reminder that genuine education is a complex and fragile process that takes into account the idea that every student is a valuable contributor to the world and not a product to be assembled. (Sergio Mora Childhood Education 2008-01-01)

Review

An absolutely outstanding book, and a major contribution to the literature on teaching. Inside Teaching advances our understanding of teaching practice by giving a disciplined, empirical account of the ways in which teachers conceive of and enact their practice, and [relates it to] current debates about education reform. Every student in my class will be reading this book. (Richard F. Elmore, Gregory Anrig Professor of Educational Leadership, Harvard Graduate School of Education) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; 8.2.2006 edition (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674022459
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674022454
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #896,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent resource for truly understanding the complexity of the teaching profession and what needs to be considered to actualize reformers' ideals. Kennedy collects, presents, and analyzes empirical research to examine the circumstances that influence learning and instructional practices in American schools, the intentions of teachers, and the ideals of the reformers. Inside Teaching: How Classroom Life Undermines Reform
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5.0 out of 5 stars Should be required reading for every educational reformer February 10, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Kennedy attempts to “go as deeply as possible into classrooms, and into teachers’ heads, to learn why teaching looks the way it does and in particular to learn why teachers appear to be immune to reform efforts". Kennedy analyzes the evidence supporting four widely held hypotheses that implicate teachers or the circumstances of teaching as the reason for the failure of reform efforts and adds a fifth hypothesis that “the reform efforts themselves may be unattainable or may actually impede practice". Drawing on data from videotaped lessons and interviews with teachers, she concludes that the failure of reform efforts stems from the reform endeavor itself because of its inherent contradictions and incompatibility with the realities of classroom teaching. This book should be required reading for every educational reformer. Kennedy gives some excellent suggestions for helping to adapt reform efforts to the realities of the classroom. However, I would rather see reformers fundamentally change the system instead of just adapting their recommendations to the broken system we currently have.
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