A powerful, rational guidebook to creating genuinely effective education, written in a manner useful not just for...

BUILDING A BETTER TEACHER

HOW TEACHING WORKS (AND HOW TO TEACH IT TO EVERYONE)

Ideas from a former principal on what makes for an exceptional teacher.

Accountability and autonomy are the two guiding lights for prescribing changes in our schools, and as Green notes early on in this book, the two principles are often at loggerheads. Accountability proponents believe in leveraging the power of data to study which teachers’ students are meeting or exceeding goals; opponents claim that it stultifies educators, diminishing the profession, and ineffectively measuring teacher and student “success.” Autonomy proponents believe that if you elevate the profession and let the teachers steer their ships, the trust, freedom and respect will enable them to do their very best. Green gives both of these views credence but goes further to suggest that the reverence surrounding the best teachers is misguided, in that it elevates the “natural born educator” mythos that suggests an inborn talent. Green deflates the “I could never do what they do” aura of the best teachers, but in a good way. In extensive conversations and observations that uncover the approaches that the best educators share, she distills how they apply those approaches in similar ways despite differences in extraversion/introversion, humorous/serious teaching approaches, and flexible/rigid standards. Green goes deeper than bromides about student engagement and motivation, digging into data about student success as well as examining the means used to collect the data. She also chronicles her visits with professionals at multiple levels (administrative, support, frontline teachers) through various successes and failures, gleaning wisdom from both—just as the best teachers would have their students do.

A powerful, rational guidebook to creating genuinely effective education, written in a manner useful not just for schoolteachers, but everyone involved in the care of children.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-393-08159-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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An ambitiously original but uncorroborated theory.

PSYCHOCONDUCTION

A sweeping new theory that puts forward a way to rejuvenate a damaged brain without using surgical or pharmacological methods. 

Clinical psychologist Litvin (Litvin’s Code, 2011) proposes what he calls a bold “new neuropsychological discovery” about ways in which a chronically underperforming brain may be improved with carefully managed mental exercises. According to the author, the brain processes information via an internal mapping system, in which received data is directed to a “book of addresses.” When the brain malfunctions, he says, it’s largely the result of damaged complex brain cells receiving “incomplete or distorted requests,” which results in the improper distribution of information. However, he asserts that the brain has a kind of organic plasticity that allows it to respond to willfully enacted repairs. Litvin argues that simple cells in the body can be stimulated in a way that either rejuvenates or replace damaged complex cells; this stimulation can overcome what he calls “neuropsychological barriers” and result in the release of a newly “balanced amount of brain chemicals”—a vague formulation that typifies the author’s overall mode of discussion. This is achieved, he says, by activating the brain’s response to various stimuli in quick succession, including tactile, visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and olfactory stimuli. Litvin calls this theory of repair “psychoconduction,” and he includes a detailed series of mental exercises that ask readers to translate simple mathematical equations into various modes of expression; for example, he shows how a visual pattern may be translated into a knocking sound, or a clamping of a hand. Litvin has discussed psychoconduction in a number of other works, but here, he furnishes his most thorough and systematic explanation of it, largely in accessible, nontechnical language. However, this volume also replicates the principal vices of the others: It’s remarkably general, and it doesn’t present any empirical, experimental evidence for its claims. Also, Litvin’s promises regarding the scope of its application are equally unsubstantiated, as well as implausible; he claims, for example, that the exercises can remedy dyslexia, anxiety, attention-deficit disorder, anger issues, and even help people who have hallucinations. It’s never clear how it’s all possible, and the author offers no solid proof. 

An ambitiously original but uncorroborated theory. 

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4669-1254-0

Page Count: 129

Publisher: Trafford

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2019

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A much-needed review of the American educational system and an examination of the techniques needed to improve the teaching...

"MULTIPLICATION IS FOR WHITE PEOPLE"

RAISING EXPECTATIONS FOR OTHER PEOPLE'S CHILDREN

A call-to-action book on how to close the racial achievement gap in the American educational system.

Despite having an African-American as president, MacArthur winner Delpit (Education/Southern Univ.; Other People’s Children, 1995, etc.) writes that African-American students are still not being treated as equal to their white peers. Using numerous examples from school situations and her own daughter’s experiences, the author shows that stereotypes and racial prejudices still abound, with many teachers teaching “down” to their black students. To counteract this negative effect, teachers need to understand the cultural backgrounds of their students and connect the curriculum to this background so that learning has relevance to the student. Instead of asking “do you know what I know?” Delpit says the question to ask is “what do you know?” “This is the question that will allow us to begin, with courage, humility, and cultural sensitivity the right educational journey,” she writes. When good teachers incorporate this method and learn to identify with each individual child, test scores and self-esteem rise and disobedience and absenteeism fall. Delpit feels her work in education is two-fold: She is “charged with preparing the minds and hearts of those who will inherit the earth…as a sacred trust…and the second purpose…is to build bridges across the great divides, the so-called achievement gap, the technology gap, class divisions, the racial divide.” If all teachers adopted these ideas, the American educational system would be vastly improved for all students. Covering age groups from preschool to college, Delpit offers advice to new and veteran teachers, advice that applies not only to African-American students but to all ethnic and minority groups.

A much-needed review of the American educational system and an examination of the techniques needed to improve the teaching methods of all involved in that system.

Pub Date: March 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59558-046-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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