George Lucas Educational Foundation

Which five books on educational reform should I read?

Which five books on educational reform should I read?

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There are likely many great books about educational reform. Which five are the most informative, relevant, and likely to make a difference? Which one should I read first?

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Roberto Catanuto's picture
Roberto Catanuto
High School Math, Physics and CS teacher, Switzerland

I am happy to share my current experience. The situation in Switzerland in quite different across the country.
Each Canton has a certain freedom to structure its own plan for the schools.
But anyway, the central government decides how to establish the final examinations.

So you have to fulfill standard examinations.
One effective educational istitution i know is placed near Geneva: it's the OakHill Foundation,

To sum up, schools in CH are facing very similar problems as all over the so-called western countries.

Kimberly Waldin's picture
Kimberly Waldin
Performing Arts Consultant

The above title was put out by Education Week. Whether you agree with the current administration's goals and opinions on education reform or not, I thought this was a great insight into the issues that the Obama administration is trying to address and the hows and whys of their approach to answering the tough questions about what reform should look like.

Rebecca Alber's picture
Rebecca Alber
Edutopia Consulting Editor

Thanks for sharing, Kimberly. I've had a chance to read through this book and find it gives a balanced look at education reform today. Education Week should be commended. I tend to value and respect what they publish.

Anyone else in the community have a comment or insight about "The Obama Education Plan: An Education Week Guide" you would like to share with us? Thanks in advance!


DrDavid44's picture
Educational Professional at Academic Excellence Unlimited, sro

I would recommend:
Brave New Schools,(Challenging Cultural Illiteracy) Jim Cummins & Dennis Sayers

worldhistoryteacher's picture

1. Mike Schmoker, Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning - less is more.
2. Heidi Hayes Jacobs, ed., Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World
The best book I have read on 21st C. Teaching and Learning
3. Doug Lemov, Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College - The science of the art of teaching
4. In my field, Heidi Roupp, ed. Teaching World History in the 21st Century: A Resource Book - just great lessons almost all that would be home in the 20th C.

5 + 6. 2 On my to read list - a) Paul Bambrick Santoyo, A Practical Guide to Improve Instruction - because the district has chosen it for some pd offerings and John Hattie, Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement - because it is cited everywhere in new publications.

Peter Hook's picture
Peter Hook
Principal Designate - The Pioneer Leadership Academy

"Learning Futures" - Keri Facer, "The Element" - Ken Robinson and "New Kinds of Smart" - Guy Claxton. We're planning a school for 21st Century Learning and these 3 are at the core of our thinking.

Emily C's picture
Emily C
ELA HS Illinois

Tony Wagner's book looks at American students's level of preparedness as they enter the work force, citing CEOs and recruiters. He also takes us on walkthroughs of classrooms around the country and examines testing.

Anna Cafaro's picture

Sometimes you are lucky enough to find just the right book at just the right time. This happened to me with "Disrupting Class" by Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn and Curtis Johnson. It put into words the disconnected thoughts I have had over the years and made me look at education and teaching in ways I had never thought. It's a must read if you are evenly mildly interested in education reform.

Rebecca Alber's picture
Rebecca Alber
Edutopia Consulting Editor

Fantastic book-- thanks for bringing it up, Anne.

I've only read excerpts, but know the authors' main assertion is that computer-based learning will offer more individualized learning for each student. Differentiating for each child is one of the greatest challenges in public ed for teachers.

Blended learning environments offers individualized learning but also the social setting, too (that I think is essential, as did Vygotsky, to learning).

Thanks again for your share, and to all others as well so far. Keep 'em coming!


Sal Vascellaro's picture
Sal Vascellaro
Graduate Faculty at Bank Street College of Education in New York City

It may seem self promoting to cite my own book, but list it here because I believe it is unique. It attempts to cut through the mile-deep political jargon and education rhetoric to get to essential questions--what does it mean to EDUCATE a child and to what end. The book delves deeply into classroom life to convey the perspectives of children and teachers, and shows how teachers and children engaging the world around them, the physical and social world beyond the school can vitalize teaching and learning, and forge connections among children, teachers, the children's families, and the communities they live and work in. See the website:

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