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Why School? Reclaiming Education for All of Us

4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1595584670
ISBN-10: 1595584676
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The reduction of educational aims to the dictates of the national economy is a main theme in Mike Rose's new book Why School? Reclaiming Education for All of Us. Rose laments economic motives and the standardized testing has overwhelmed all the other aims of public education (p. 166). Rose fully accepts American schooling should prepare (young) people for making a living. But "our national discussion of education" and pedagogical practice "has been dominated by" the aims of economic competitiveness and test scores (p. 4). Besides, parents send their children to school for many other reasons than for merely making a living. There are intellectual, social, civic, ethical, and aesthetic educational aims which have been historically more important than economic outcomes. "Not today" (p. 4). Economic motives and standardized testing dominate the thinking of pedagogy and educational practices.

Although the book is specific to the pedagogical and political battles in the U.S., the lessons go far beyond culturally specific circumstances. This rather short book is concerned with the process of learning, the activity of good teaching, and provocatively scrutinizes the social goals and pedagogical aims of education.

Rose repeatedly emphasizes historically American children have been sent to school for a variety of reasons (pp. 4-5, 23-4, 34-7, 95, 110-5, 159). There is a long tradition in American public education to promote (Jeffersonian) good citizenship and facilitate the realization of civic duty (pp. 166-7). American public schools have historically supported a moral education (p. 4, p. 165) and a learning process to assist and support personal development (p. 115).
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