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Why School? Reclaiming Education for All of Us Hardcover – September 1, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1595584670 ISBN-10: 1595584676
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Why School? Reclaiming Education for All of Us + Lives on the Boundary: A Moving Account of the Struggles and Achievements of America's Educationally Un derprepared
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Editorial Reviews


"A beautifully written work . . . [a] moving call for a humane approach to education that accounts for the needs of every child."
Christian Science Monitor

From the Publisher

A powerful and timely exploration of this country's public education goals, and how they are put into practice, by the award-winning author and educator

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 177 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595584676
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595584670
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4.8 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mike Rose is a Research Professor in the Social Research Methodology Division of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. He has taught in a wide range of educational settings, from elementary school to adult literacy and job training programs. He is a member of the National Academy of Education and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Grawemeyer Award in Education, and awards from the Spencer Foundation, the National Council of Teachers of English, the Modern Language Association, and the American Educational Research Association.

He has written over 75 opinion pieces and commentaries and appeared on approximately 200 national and regional radio and television shows including Fresh Air, Diane Rehm, Bill Moyers' World of Ideas, Studs Terkel, NPR Weekend Edition, Speaking of Faith, and Tavis Smiley.

His books include Lives on the Boundary: The Struggles and Achievements of America's Underprepared, Possible Lives: The Promise of Public Education in America, The Mind at Work: Valuing the Intelligence of the American Worker, Why School: Reclaiming Education for All of Us, and Back to School: Why Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Education.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Hicks on September 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If you are already a fan of Mike Rose's earlier books (Lives on the Boundary, Possible Lives, The Mind at Work), you will love this exquisite book of essays that revisits themes from his earlier writing, and yet pulls them together in a fresh and highly accessible way. If you have not yet read Rose's earlier work, this is a wonderful introduction. The civil rights leader Robert Moses once said of education that it is the civil rights agenda of our new cultural and economic times. What Rose poignantly argues in this book is that we have fallen shamefully short of achieving this new civil rights agenda: educational equality in public schools across America. This is not just in spite of the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, the bill that was intended to equalize education and help all students succeed. It is in part because of NCLB, with its unintended effect of narrowing the language and curriculum of public education. We have lost our way, argues Rose throughout this book. We have lost the fullness of public school teaching that focuses on critical and imaginative thinking, and that makes room for the rich diversity of American cultural life and thought. It is easy to offer a critique that tells us where we have gone astray, but Rose takes things one important step further in this collection. He shows through story and his own lyrical style of essayist commentary how things would look if they were different. What readers will find in this small but incredibly important book is a vision for public education that takes us beyond reductive dichotomies and narrow ways of thinking and acting. This is an important moment for public education in America, and Rose's voice is a critical one for helping us creatively rethink how education can become truly democratic.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Shirin Vossoughi on October 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
What is the purpose of schooling in a democracy? Through the masterful blending of public policy debates with personal and ethnographic narrative, "Why School?" refocuses our collective attention on this fundamental question. In this powerful collection of essays, Mike Rose carefully explicates the central issues that characterize educational discourse in the United States: standards, accountability, remediation, intelligence, work and equity. But what makes this book special is the way he does it. Rose's treatment of each of these issues - his thoughtful disentangling of political rhetoric to articulate the essential questions we ought to be thinking about - reflects and offers the kind of "fresh language" he urges us to join him in creating. What does opportunity look and feel like? What is the value of a standard or assessment and how can we re-organize learning so that these become tools rather than rigid ends? How can we rethink oversimplified dichotomies (hand vs. mind, academic vs. everyday, policy vs. practice) in the service of a more "egalitarian philosophy of education?" While questioning narrow, purely economic discussions of schooling, Rose leaves no nuance or counterargument unexamined, building a compelling case for what we should be most concerned with: the social, cognitive, emotional and existential dimensions of human development, and the conditions that provide all students the opportunity to grow. In this sense, "Why School?" spills out beyond education, serving as a model for careful thinking and writing about a wide range of social issues.

Though Rose's "Why School?
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ashley Chu on October 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Why School? addresses American public education in a humanizing, refreshing manner. Mike Rose candidly acknowledges the flaws and difficulties of our education system, and offers meaningful insight into how we need to address these challenges to reform the system. Through a collection of short but compelling essays, Mike Rose discusses a number of important topics, such as education policy, the role of business in education, the workplace, standards, and remediation. His discussion of these topics provide a much-needed narrative for why we educate--one that moves beyond the language of standards and accountability, and instead progresses toward one that appreciates the intellectual value of students and encourages their social and civic growth and development. This book makes a powerful contribution to education literature, but is suited for educators and non-educators alike. It provides a revitalizing vision for education in a democracy.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jack Bender on March 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Early on author Mike Rose declares that "...we have lost our way." Our actions have been "...fear-based, inhuman, less noble." He claims that we need a new language to talk about education because the current rhetoric overlooks past values, narrows the scope and prohibits reflection on all that education should be. We've reduced "...human development and achievement...to a test score." "...what kind of education does a program of such testing foster?" Is it really an accurate measure of learning?

Historically, we've embraced the intellectual, social, civic, ethical and aesthetic benefits of education. Not today. Economic competitiveness and compliance, along with selfish benefits to the private sector, have trumped these broad and noble benefits.

We have to reconsider what education is for, especially in light of human development and civic responsibility. Hopefully, "big-hearted social policy and an embrace of the ideals of a democratic education..." will result. Such a policy will consider how school is perceived by those who attend it and it will have to reflect an understanding of and an accommodation for varied socioeconomic contexts.

Partisan-laden political discourse has rejected wisdom and knowledge as its basis. "It's time to reclaim for politics the value of knowledge." In so doing, we will not only improve public discourse, we will begin to restore education's rightful place in public life.

Rose addresses remediation, the manufactured void between vocational education and college preparation tracks, inequality, missed opportunities, standards, measurement and much, much more. These essays are not bombshells, laden with radically new material. However, they're chilling when we compare what is to what used to be, what could be.
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