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Teaching Literacy for Love and Wisdom:Being the Book and Being the Change (Language and Literacy Series) Hardcover – July 8, 2011

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Product Details

  • Series: Language and Literacy Series (Book 112)
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Teachers College Press (July 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807752371
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807752371
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,638,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


A 21st-century defense of literature -- Sheridan Blau, from the Foreword

It's particularly exciting to see how the authors give both intellectual heft and political weight to the softness that too many for too long have deemed a danger to our profession. -- Peter Elbow, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, author of Everyone Can Write

If you yearn, as I do, for an education that encourages students to come alive to themselves, to others, and to the world, you must read this book. We who teach cannot afford to fiddle with information and test scores while the planet burns. We need to help our students become grounded in true self, cultivate wisdom and generosity, and live in a way that reflects reverence for the gifts of nature and human nature. In this important book, Wilhelm and Novak point the way with stories of great teaching and learning and a powerful framework of ideas that sheds light on teaching in every discipline. May it be read and embraced by many. -- J. Palmer, author of The Courage to Teach, Let Your Life Speak, and Healing the Heart of Democracy

At a time when all the discussion about teachers seems so critical, here comes this book that brings some light into my world, reminding me as nothing else has lately what it means to be a teacher, and an English teacher in particular. It is enough that this book restores my pride in our profession; that the book also offers examples of great teaching and expands my conception of my own practice -- well, that just makes this book all the more of a gift to our profession. -- Jim Burke, Burlingame High School, CA, author of I Hear America Reading and The English Teacher's Companion, and founder of the English Companion Ning

A powerful and loving plea to reclaim education from the boredom and alienation of standardization toward personal growth, democratic community, and planetary partnership. A pleasure to read. -- Nel Noddings, Stanford University, author of The Challenge to Care in Schools and Happiness and Education

Winston Churchill was fond of saying that the thing that got in the way of his education was schooling. Education is for the renewal of life; but most schooling deadens us. I have been working in the field of educational renewal for the past quarter century. So I have been very much cheered in this dark educational time by Teaching Literacy for Love and Wisdom, which vividly and coherently connects the educative processes of inner renewal and community renewal with the large-scale processes of democratic and ecological renewal the world now needs. It is a reminder for all of us of what education is and schools are for and of what we can humanly make of ourselves by truly caring for the education of our young. -- John Goodlad, founder of the Institute for Educational Inquiry and the National Network for Educational Renewal and author of A Place Called School, What Schools Are For, and In Praise of Education

Explaining exactly what the best English teachers do by connecting congenial strains of contemporary science, psychology, and literary theory with perennial themes from both Eastern and Western philosophy, the authors confirm the highest values of democratic education and offer an inspiring vision of what it truly means to put students firstshowing how what really counts in the humanities classroom is the humanity we manifest in it, and how manifesting this humanity is what brings us to come to count for ourselves and for one another. The authors not only describe the future of English, but its best current practices and its deep historical legacy. This book is more than prophetic. In our increasingly dehumanized world, its a necessity. -- Robert Inchausti, Professor of English, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA, and author of Spitwad Sutras: Classroom Reaching as Sublime Vocation and Thomas M --More Reviews

With the spirits of Matthew Arnold and John Dewey hovering over every page, Wilhelm and Novak probe the question What is English? Drawing on an array of thinkers and intellectual traditions, they make the case that art, and particularly the reading of literature, can help create a transactional mentalitya transcending of the narrow boundaries of self to achieve an openness to others, a sense of true community, and democracy in the best sense. It is a demanding, stimulating, and hopeful journey. -- Thomas Newkirk, University of New Hampshire

In a technologically competitive world that demands more math and science, what is English for? Wilhelm and Novak reveal how reading and writing, despite being classic left-hemisphere activities, can be taught so that they develop right-hemisphere awareness. Literacy becomes a pathway to love, to wisdom, and to hope, rather than one more educational entrapment of an egocentric and instrumental culture. This is a lively, inspiring, and, literally, mind-opening book. -- Ellen Dissanayake, University of Washington, author of What Is Art For?, Homo Aestheticus, and Art and Intimacy

Wilhelm and Novak have respectfully recovered Louise Rosenblatts inspired use of John Deweys transactionalism in her transactional theory of reading, and then brilliantly gone beyond it, breaking fresh ground in classroom practice for a new generation that sorely needs it. Dewey and Rosenblatt would both rejoice in their creative and timely reconstruction of their work. -- Jim Garrison, Virginia Tech, past president of the John Dewey Society, and author of Dewey and Eros

Wilhelm and Novak have a complex story to tell about why literature holds such a venerable office. But a great strength of the book is that the authors are themselves masterful storytellers. And in sharing their own storiesas well as those of their students, colleagues, and cooperating teachersthey provide powerful testimony to the brave vulnerability, trusting friendship, and honest meaningfulness that a humanistic education can provide. They themselves become palpably real in the process of persuading us to become real for one another. Read this book for the pleasure that it affords, and allow it to help propel you along in your own journey toward greater loving wisdom. -- Megan Laverty, Teachers College, author of Iris Murdochs Ethics: A Consideration of Her Romantic Vision

For any English teacher who wonders why she teaches, who returns throughout her career to that atavistic staring into the fire to make sense of the deepest questions that lovers of language live by, this book will keep you afloat in both challenging educational times and those times when you feel understood. It is a book that I will read again and again, revisiting its pages like a trusted friend. This book informs the practicalities of a rich teaching life: it supports our classroom endeavors, encouraging and reflecting best practices, while simultaneously nurturing the heart of why we began teaching in the first place. Its easy to feel disheartened when so much is being dictated from outside of our classrooms. Heres a book to read, in the words of C.S. Lewis, to know we are not alone. -- Denise Maltese, middle school English teacher, Onteora, NY, and winner of the 2008 NCTE James Moffett Award for K12 Teaching --More Reviews --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Jeffrey B. Wilhelm, professor of English education, Boise State University; and Bruce Novak, director of Educational Projects, Foundation for Ethics and Meaning

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey C. Roper on August 2, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this world of teaching for skills and measurable outcomes, Wilhelm and Novak's book comes as complete surprise. Here is a book that asks what is the central purpose of the English classroom, of literature, not what is the best way to increase student comprehension or writing clarity (though comprehension and clarity certainly increase when students experience a story, not just read it). For those of us who teach English because of the way literature transforms lives, changes the way we see the world and ourselves, this book is powerfully reaffirming. On the shoulders of Peter Elbow, James Moffett, and particularly Louise Rosenblatt and George Hillocks, these authors have constructed a dense and provocative argument for an experiential encounter with literature that leads to new and courageous thinking and acting. This book is radical in the finest sense of the word, and I encourage every English teacher and every English teacher training program to plunge into this clarion call for purpose redefined.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ken C. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 4, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The central tenet of this collaboration between Jeffrey Wilhelm and Bruce Novak is that we should be teaching more for the love of literature and how it can impact our lives now and in the future than for knowledge alone. To use words from one of the book's apostles, Louise Rosenblatt, the aesthetic transaction between reader and writer is of greater importance than any efferent responses (i.e. simply naming facts as you do in a standardized test). Fans of Wilhelm's past books will be happy to see reiterations of his belief in inquiry (learned from his mentor, George Hillocks). The first task of the teacher, then, is to set up an authentically compelling question that students want to explore. Frontloading activities then get the students personally invested in the question, which in turn echoes the great questions about life explored by the author to be read. Wilhelm reviews some of the activities that can be done to get students to feel a personal stake as citizens of the world that the author inhabits as well.

Although you get some of Wilhelm's practical ideas explained, the book is much heavier on the theoretical side (I'd say 70%). Thus, many teachers might be put off by the numerous allusions to philosophers and educational theorists, the ubiquitous quotes, the sometimes difficult diction. As Wilhelm and Novak were preaching to the choir in my case, I was fine with it, but I know many teachers object to heavy theory and I only say as much so they know going in. Personally, I see the book as a confirmation of some Romantic and historical ideals of man that should be kept in mind while teachers plan. Reading strategies, then? A means, not an end. THIS is the "end."
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Teaching Literacy for Love and Wisdom:Being the Book and Being the Change (Language and Literacy Series)
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