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Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of Teaching Can Transform Education 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0470384527
ISBN-10: 0470384522
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Editorial Reviews


“Beginning teacher education students (and their teachers!) should be excited to encounter this commonsensical, eminently readable account of how they might teach, and the reasons for doing it that way.
—R.R. Sherman, emeritus, University of Florida Highly Recommended

From the Inside Flap

Making Learning Whole

"One summer I participated in Little League baseball . . . Baseball for me was a triumph of mediocrity. I wasn't especially good at it but I wasn't awful either . . . In the years since those days I've come to an odd conclusion about those early learning experiences: The results were only so-so but the process was pretty good . . . It was pretty good because from the beginning I built up a feel for the whole game. I knew what hitting the ball or missing the ball got you. I knew about scoring runs and keeping score. I knew what I had to do to do well, even though I only pulled it off part of the time. I saw how it fit together."
—from the IntroductionIn Making Learning Whole, David Perkins—a noted authority on teaching and learning and senior co-director of Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education—introduces a new, practical, and research-based framework for teaching. Using learning the game of baseball as a metaphor, Perkins illustrates how teaching any subject at any grade level can be made more effective if students are introduced to the "whole game," rather than isolated pieces of a discipline.

Filled with real-world examples, Making Learning Whole describes how learning can be organized for deep and lasting impact by using these seven principles:

  • Play the Whole Game

  • Make the Game Worth Playing

  • Work on the Hard Parts

  • Play Out of Town

  • Uncover the Hidden Game

  • Learn from the Team

  • Learn the Game of Learning

At the end of each chapter, Perkins includes "Wonders of Learning," a summary of the key ideas and "I wonder . . ." questions, which can be answered in real contexts of teaching and learning.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (December 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470384522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470384527
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #377,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bumped this book to the front of the line after reading the galley of Reflexive Practice: Professional Thinking for a Turbulent World which in turn bumped The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education that I had half-finished. The three together make for a stellar collection, with Reflexive Practice also being a 6+ and World is Open very possibly being 6+ as well. Only 98 out of my 1639 reviews have been 6+, so these are in the top 7% of everything I have reviewed. These are "world-changing" books.

Reading this book has been a real treat for me. The combination of white space and modestly-sized font has allowed a great deal of knowledge to be easily presented. I immediately noticed and especially appreciated the manner in which the author has woven the work (book titles) of hundreds of others into his own work. Early on he identifies five contributing literatures:

1) Thinking and learning dispositions
2) Teaching for understanding
3) Organizational learning and development
4) Causality and understanding science
5) Widescale online teacher development

I cannot help but place this author in the same league as Will Durant (e.g. Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition) as well as E. O. Wilson (e.g. Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge).
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Format: Paperback
I think I can keep my review concise: have students engage in realistic activities that allow them to engage in the process of learning - in truly meaningful ways. Make learning thorough in that students see relevance in what they are learning and are able to construct meanings while developing both critical overarching knowledge and tackling the harder bits. Perkins, once again, has provided a very insightful view on how we should be respecting and helping shape the minds of our students.

If you are an educator, and have a passion for teaching (I hope that if you are you do) you should appreciate this easy to read book that will transform how you think and how you instruct. And - if you have lost your passion, this book may indeed bring it back. Although the book, and in general Perkins writings, are very easy to read, it is because he composes thought with a majestic style through the use of metaphor and cases (examples) that keep you in the game - in the game of reading. He simply introduces/addresses profound ideas with very digestible and thought provoking strokes of his pen.

Previous reviews have laid down quite a bit of detail - so I will simply add - what a great gift for education - don't hesitate.

His other books are as equally brilliant: Smart Schools
King Arthur's Round Table : How Collaborative Conversations Create Smart Organizations
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Every teacher, school, district, and government searches for the best way to educate the children in their care. If there were one magic way to accomplish this daunting task, we would have implemented it long ago. David Perkins' wonderful Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of Teaching Can Transform Education addresses the problem of how the whole picture of education, from Kindergarten through University, fits together: how it interacts, connects, and becomes meaningful.
Perkins begins with the basic premise that most formal education in our world approaches ideas, concepts, subjects, and disciplines in a piecemeal approach instead of looking at the big picture. We are subject, in school, to what he calls "elementitis" and "aboutitis," or breaking down learning into discrete, unconnected bits that frequently - usually - never do get connected. It's a fractured curriculum, with a narrow focus on standards which are frequently based on disjointed accumulations of facts. We teach what's relevant to what's going to be tested. Perkins says we go through our years of schooling in this lurching, broken way, "with the whole game nowhere in sight."
So what to do about it? Perkins, along with Howard Gardner, is a co-director of Harvard Graduate School's Project Zero, which aims to investigate education and learning in a holistic way. Project Zero has supported the concept of Teaching for Understanding. Its researchers are in the forefront of studying what education can look like for the 21st century. Perkins proposes that we look at education with an eye for bigger goals than just accumulating disconnected pieces of knowledge, without discounting the need for skills and foundational knowledge.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It would be redundant for me to detail how David N. Perkins cleverly uses baseball as a metaphor for education -- other reviews here have already done so at great length. I'll focus more on the theory-to-practice ratio and state that this book is decidedly one of theory, as you might expect of a Harvard professor. Not that this is a slight. Books of theory and books of practical teaching strategies and activities each have their place. This book, then, provides a good research base for many of the practical ideas floating out there by people like Rick Wormeli and Jeff Wilhelm and Kelly Gallagher.

Given its theoretical blood, the book can thank its author for at least having a conversational tone. Perkins is an engaging "speaker" and, based on the book, one would predict his classes would be entertaining and erudite at once (not a bad combo!). At times he can drift a bit too much into abstractions, but overall, the book reinforces the importance of giving students "junior versions" of "whole games," that is, start-to-finish assignments that replicate authentic practices seen in the real world. Students will buy in if the work is worthwhile, shown to be relevant to THEM, and challenging. They actually WANT to work under those circumstances. And yet so many teachers continue to play the school games their OWN teachers played twenty and thirty years ago. Bits and pieces. Work and assignments you would only find in a school. That sort of thing.

If you haven't read a lot of modern educational theory, this is a great way to be introduced to many of the trends. And if you have, it will be a great way to see the foundational bases (another baseball metaphor for you) of all of your beliefs going forward.
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