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Best Education Books of 2011

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The three best education books of 2011

Tricia Tunstall's beautiful new book, Changing Lives: Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema, and the Transformative Power of Music, tells the story of El Sistema, perhaps the world's most exciting large-scale (systemic) education project. At a time when presidential candidates call for children to clean toilets as a way of "learning the dignity of work,", El Sistema, teaches hundreds of thousands of children each year to realize their potential as productive citizens by learning to play classical music at a level previously unimagined. This incredibly well-written book reminds us of how arts education can change lives. The book asks much of each of us, but the rewards are extraordinary. It reminds us what it means to be human and of the most humane purposes of education. Readers will be empowered to dream bigger, act bolder and eschew the incrementalism plaguing public education policy. The lessons for educators, politicians and parents are innumerable.

You should also get the fantastic DVDs, El Sistema: Music to Change Lives and The Promise of Music to bring music and motion to the ideas in Tunstall's fantastic book.  

Teaching Minds: How Cognitive Science Can Save Our Schools by Roger Schank

Dr. Schank is one of the leading experts on artificial intelligence, storytelling, simulation, entrepreneurship and learning. His new book is another fearless volume about what is wrong with education and how it may be "fixed." Schank is hilarious, provocative and not a person you want to argue with. This important book may help cleanse school leaders of the nonsense spread by Pink, Willingham and Marzano. From Schank's web site: "Unfortunately education and teaching rarely means either of these things in today's world. The premise of my new book is simple. We have all gone to school. We all know that school is organized around academic subjects like math, English, history and science. But how else might school be organized? There is an easy answer to this: organize school around thought processes." 

The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Experience in Transformation by Edwards, Gandini and Foreman is the most comprehensive book on the phenomenal "Reggio Emilia approach" to education.The 3rd volume of this comprehensive anthology has been long-awaited and includes multiple perspectives. It is a must read and re-read for many years to come.

Honorable Mention Book of 2011

Wasting Minds: Why Our Education System Is Failing and What We Can Do About It by Ron Wolk While I profoundly disagree with some of his conclusions and views on educational technology, veteran academic and founder of Education Week, Ron Wolk does an exceptional job of describing the current educational landscape. The data within the book is invaluable.    

Best new book of 2012

 

One of the great honors of my life was being invited by legendary educator and author of 40 seminal education books, Herbert Kohl, to make a small contribution to this new book about the importance of the arts in education. Being included in a book with the likes of Deborah Meier, Bill T. Jones, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Ayers, Lisa Delpit, Rosie Perez, Phylicia Rashad, Diane Ravitch and Maxine Greene leaves me speechless. The Muses Go to School: Conversations about the Necessity of Arts in Education includes first-person accounts by leading artists with commentary supplied by leading educators.

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