Educators Falk and Blumenreich (The Power of Questions: A Guide to Teacher and Student Research, 2005) present case studies of kindergarten and elementary school classrooms that, although located in economically stressed urban areas, have found creative and intelligent means of making education effective.
Few cultural and social arenas have managed to dodge the divisiveness that has overtaken modern political discourse, and education is not one of the exceptions. Standardized testing, long proven to be ineffective at best and incredibly damaging at worst, remains the driving force behind assessing student progress; the distractions of technology and social media continue to spread further into kids' lives; the promise of a decent, reliable job based on academic performance is no longer taken for granted. The difficulty in crafting a solution is that one solution won't suffice. Falk and Blumenreich compile case studies that approach some of the problems from a micro, rather than macro, perspective. Whereas educational policy might suggest that one particular methodology is superior in a majority of situations, these case studies provide a more eclectic set of approaches to dealing with issues. A handful of the case studies, and the conclusions from those studies, overlap each other in content; this ties into the overall thrust of the book. Issues of immigration sensitivity in children just starting school tie into the importance of drawing from the strengths of a multicultural classroom. The authors take the studies further than standard liberal boilerplate issues, however, wading into the animosity of parent-teacher relationships and providing constructive insight into the failings and strengths of both groups. Flying in the face of national standardized testing, three studies explore the strengths of differentiated teaching. As often happens with thoughtful consideration of a problem, the solutions raise more questions, which the authors strive to explore without getting lost down a rabbit hole.
A valuable book for urban educators.