Robert J. Marzano doesn't take teaching, leading or anything else lightly. That's why next week, when he releases his umpteenth1 education book, he will officially change his name to The Amazing Robert J. Marzano, or T.A.R.J.M. (pronounced "Tar-Zhay-Em") for short.
The Art and Science of the Art and Science of Teaching, Leading, and Instructurizing: How Everyone with a Thought About Education Can Affect Students Even a Little Bit2 takes a hard look at learning from the perspective of students, teachers, assistant principals, principals, support staff, parents, central support staff, superintendents, chancellors, secretaries of education and, yes, even The President.3
"The impact of this book will hopefully create measurable ripples throughout education," says Marzano in an exclusive interview. "Studies show that a religious adherence to my books improves school culture by 27%, a factor almost as high as outside influences like . . . well, whatever it is. Inconsequential, really."4
"On a scale from one to awe-inspiring? Oh, he's just brilliant, just brilliant," says Kate McSwaggertoni, English teacher in a New York City public school. "First time I saw him, I said, 'Who is this guy? Mr. Rubrics. Mr. Rubric Hands. No way. No way. What is this garbage?'5 But then I really started to get into his material, and I . . . enjoy his material very much."6
Some critics deride T.A.R.J.M. for his prolific use of numbers to oversimplify and obfuscate the difference between student achievement and student learning.7 They mention that tests have shifted plenty in the last decade, so many of the comparisons are apples to oranges,8 and that the data models used in his books are unreliable for most teachers since many of them yearly teach a different set of students with different skills.9 They also feel ambiguous about some of the research he's used, since most of the research has his name and the names of others who you may find in his proverbial champagne room.10 Plus, critics add, if he really had that much of an impact on education reform, then why does he need this many books and this many articles to prove his worth?11
Undeterred, Marzano gives some sharp insight into what he believes will move the country's agenda forward: "Everywhere I go, I go about my work honestly and intently. I try to reflect what real educators on the ground feel. I know that when teachers are in the classrooms, students tend to learn something more often than not.12 I know that when students go into a classroom, they tend to be in a school.13 I also know, based on my academic research,14 that when principals go to a school, they tend to be looked at as the leader of the building.15 I'd say more, but then I'd ruin the premise of my book."16
"Look," says Chris Lehmann, principal of Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, "the things Marzano does with his time are his business. He says things and does things that I know I wouldn't.17 He's also been doing this for so many years, and that has to stand for something." Lehmann couldn’t be reached for further comment after laughing and spilling coffee out of his nose during the interview.18
"Listen, I don't know what the big deal is. Marzano's my boy,"19 said Mike Schmoker, another prolific education-philosophy scholar-type person. "If you really listen to what he's saying, which is the same thing I'm saying, which is not at all similar to what Carol Ann Tomlinson is saying,20 then you'll note that what we're saying is this: when teachers teach well, students learn.21 When teachers focus on achievement, students achieve.22 We have tables and charts that show just how well students can do if we just focus on these very simple things. I was a former educator and football coach, so I know a few things about winning."23
The book, The Art and Science of the Art and Science of Teaching, Leading, and Instructurizing, starts off with the history of education in the United States up to this very moment (and automatically updates every time you read it), and uses this history to illustrate why T.A.R.J.M.'s methods must be employed in schools this instant.24 His work sounds grounded in what's actually happening in schools, and some educators actually employ what he prescribes into their schools.
The jury is still out on the notorious T.A.R.J.M., but one thing's for sure: so long as students, teachers, assistant principals, principals, support staff, parents, central support staff, superintendents, chancellors, secretaries of education and yes, even The President all achieve, Marzano will be right there, reminding them of his latest book.25
1Umpteenth is a slight exaggeration here. It's a little more than 30, or a lot, depending on how many you've read.
2Truncated title for the purposes of this article.
3Just about everyone not named Gary Busey.
4[insert article about margins of error here]
5Source: "Drinking Out Of Cups" meme
6Interview given under the ever-prying eyes of Mr. Nosferatu, principal at Rigor Mortis High School.
7Student learning is when students learn; student achievement is when they may or may not learn, but at least they got a 3 or 4 on a standardized test. Yay!
8"I love oranges." - Marzano, 1998
9"Another point of little consequence, I say!" - Marzano, DuFour, 2012
10"Ahem, I find the term 'champagne room' offensive." - Marzano, Marzano and Marzano, 2000, 2001 and 2002, respectively
11As of this writing, Marzano just announced another book in the middle of a speech. He's still working on the title, but proceeded to make it rain singles on the crowd, much to the jubilation of the attendees there.
12"Teachers teaching, students achieving." - Marzano, 650 BC
13"Why have a MOOC when you can walk into class?" - Marzano, 1941, on a boat with Christopher Columbus
14He really wanted to emphasize here where to footnote things in his quotes, so we knew it was research-based.
15"Principals, put this in your bookshelf." - Marzano, DuFour, Danielson, Schmoker and Marzano, 2011
16"No, really, please do." - Marzano, 2011, right after footnote #15
17Edited for snark
18The US Department of Education, in its latest edition of Teaching Matters, referred to this as part of Lehmann's magic. #EduCon attendees confirmed this.
19"They do indeed go way back," Pauly D of Jersey Shore reassured us.
20Biggie Smalls, posthumously, would refer to the situation between Tomlinson and Schmoker as "beef."
21Re-cited from #15, because he can do that.
22Re-cited from #21, because he does do that.
23"Objection! Relevance!" - McCoy from Law and Order
24The fact that you're still reading this pulls you away from reading the next book Marzano just wrote. For shame.
25Editor's note: Shortly after submitting this, Vilson wrote back to tell us, "I hope he knows I'm just kidding, right? It's April 1? My fiancée just asked me if we're going to be blacklisted from ASCD after this." After we told him no, Vilson quipped, "Oh good! 'Cause I got this Black part down!" We LMAOd so hard.