Bottom line, if you want to give a gift to a teacher, this book is a good option. It’s also a good choice for anyone with a general interest in improving education. “Faces of Learning” consists of statements by 50 teachers, thinkers, and community leaders. It is a buffet of opinions and personal anecdotes. The book, published by Wiley, was put together by Sam Chaltain, an education crusader. You can read about Sam and his activities on facesoflearning.net. I am, by the way, in the book, much to my surprise. I submitted a short, contrarian statement indirectly rejecting the notion of “learning styles.” This theory is a fad now in public schools, so I think it speaks well of Sam Chaltain that he put me in his book. “Faces of Learning” indicates an important trend--individual citizens trying to reform public education from the outside. My take on the Education Establishment is that these people are ideologues, so we can’t always expect them to find the best ideas. But when public opinion turns against this or that method, the Education Establishment does change gears. So I urge everyone to find a crusade they like and support it, or start your own. Michelle Rhee, after leaving the Washington, DC school system, started a site called StudentsFirst.org, which is trying to mobilize public opinion for her ideas on reform. Sam Chaltain’s crusade is mainstream, and seeking to forge a new consensus. My work on Improve-Education.org tries to explain the thinking behind the policy decisions. Point is, there are many crusades out there; and probably one is compatible with your own instincts.
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