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Creating the Schools Our Children Need: Why What We're Doing Now Won't Help Much (And What We Can Do Instead) Paperback – March 29, 2018
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Creating the Schools Our Children Need is a signal work. Amid all of the words and all of the theory, this volume tells what will pay off now. Read, enjoy, profit. --Daniel T. Willingham, Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia
Wiliam masterfully convinces readers of the errors in the 'competitive selection' model, and provides much-needed context to the way that many use international comparisons as a cudgel against US schools. --Jason McKenna, Director of Educational Strategy, Robomatter
From the Inside Flap
Dr. Dylan Wiliam is the world's foremost authority on formative assessment and has worked for years to improve the state of education in the US and abroad. Through his experience teaching in classrooms, leading schools, and directing research, Dr. Wiliam has found there is no simple solution to school improvement that works in every classroom every timebut there are district-wide measures that can improve the odds of success.
In Creating the Schools Our Children Need, Dr. Wiliam breaks down the methods American schools use to improve, and the gaps between what research tells us works and what we actually do. Dr. Wiliam analyzes the three real, implementable improvements that are proven to be factors in school success:
- Building a curriculum focused on developing knowledge
- Supporting a culture where every teacher improves
- Applying a framework for evaluating new district initiatives
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Top international reviews
The organization of the book makes it particularly engaging: Establishing the problem, evaluating unsatisfactory solutions, proposing effective ones. Every chapter builds the case with reference to available research which reveals more than a few counter-intuitive findings. It will come as no surprise to find formative assessment as part of the solution, but it was the chapter on curriculum, and the importance of knowledge, adding to, for example, the work of Daisy Christodoulou, which I found particularly powerful.
The case he builds is compelling and coolly argued, but he does not pull his punches: "We are frequently told that young people of today are radically different from those of previous generations. We are told that they are … digital natives … and therefore need to learn in different ways from their predecessors. We are told that they cannot work on one thing for a sustained period of time because they are multitaskers. We are told they love to customize their world, and so the curriculum needs to be personalized to their interests and needs. We are told that they think and process information differently, and the school curriculum needs to reflect this. All this is plausible, but it is nonsense. For all intents and purposes, the brains of young people today are the same as the brains of young people thirty thousand years ago."
Two questions which were on my mind on opening the book concerned its relevance for people outside the US, and its value for those already familiar with Wiliam’s writing. My feeling is that this is well worth reading if you are involved in school improvement, regardless of your situation, and yes, even if you are acquainted with Dylan Wiliam, there is enough here (on international comparisons, for example, or on curriculum) to make the purchase worthwhile. “Creating the schools our children need” is highly recommended for school board members, administrators, and teachers who want to avoid fads and bandwagons and instead pursue effective change.