Substitute

Substitute: Going to School with a Thousand Kids
by Nicholson Baker

LB 2844.1 .S8 B28 2016

“In 2014, after a brief orientation course and a few fingerprinting sessions, Nicholson Baker became an on-call substitute teacher in a Maine public school district. He awoke to the dispatcher’s five-forty a.m. phone call and headed to one of several nearby schools; when he got there, he did his best to follow lesson plans and help his students get something done. What emerges from Baker’s experience is a complex, often touching deconstruction of public schooling in America: children swamped with overdue assignments, overwhelmed by the marvels and distractions of social media and educational technology, and staff who weary themselves trying to teach in step with an often outmoded or overly ambitious standard curriculum.

In Baker’s hands, the inner life of the classroom is examined anew – mundane worksheets, recess time-outs, surprise nosebleeds, rebellions, griefs, jealousies, minor triumphs, kindergarten show-and-tell, daily lessons on everything from geology to metal tech to the Holocaust – as he and his pupils struggle to find ways to get through the day. Baker is one of the most inventive and remarkable writers of our time, and Substitute, filled with humor, honesty, and empathy, may be his most impressive work of nonfiction yet.”
– publisher description

The Importance of Being Little

The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups by Erika Christakis

LB 1140.35 .P37 C47 2016

“To a four-year-old watching bulldozers at a construction site or chasing butterflies in flight, the world is awash with promise. Little children come into the world hardwired to learn in virtually any setting and about any matter. Yet in today’s preschool and kindergarten classrooms learning has been reduced to scripted lessons and suspect metrics that too often undervalue a child’s intelligence while overtaxing the child’s growing brain. These mismatched expectations wreak havoc on the family: parents fear that if they choose the “wrong” program, their child won’t get into the “right” college. But Yale early childhood expert Erika Christakis says our fears are wildly misplaced. Our anxiety about our children’s futures has reached a fever pitch at a time when, ironically, science gives us more certainty than ever before that young children are exceptionally strong thinkers.

In her pathbreaking book, Christakis explains what it’s like to be a young child in America today, in a world designed by and for adults, where we have confused schooling with learning. She offers nuanced, real-life solutions to real-life issues that move past the usual prescriptions for fewer tests, more play. She looks at children’s use of language, their artistic expressions, the way their imaginations grow, and how they build deep emotional bonds to stretch the boundaries of their small worlds. Rather than clutter their worlds with more and more stuff, sometimes our wisest course is to learn how to get out of their way.

Christakis’s message is energizing and reassuring: young children are inherently powerful, and they (and their parents) will flourish if we can revitalize the early learning environment. Her bold and pragmatic challenge to the conventional wisdom peels back the mystery of childhood, revealing a place that’s rich with possibility.”
– publisher description

Despite the Best Intentions

Despite the Best Intentions: How Racial Inequality Thrives in Good Schools
by Amanda E. Lewis & John B. Diamond

LC 212.2 .L49 2015

“On the surface, Riverview High School looks like the post-racial ideal. Serving an enviably affluent and diverse district, the school is well-funded, its teachers are well-trained, and many of its students are high-achieving. Yet Riverview has not escaped the same question that plagues schools throughout America: why is it that even when all of the circumstances seem right, black and Latina/o students continue to lag behind their peers?

Through five years’ worth of interviews and data-gathering at Riverview, Amanda Lewis and John Diamond have created a powerful and illuminating study of how the racial achievement gap continues to afflict American schools more than fifty years after the formal dismantling of segregation. As students progress from elementary school to middle school to high school, their level of academic achievement increasingly tracks along racial lines, with white and Asian students maintaining higher GPAs and standardized testing scores, taking more advanced classes, and attaining better college admission results than their black and Latina/o counterparts. Departing from most of the research that focuses on poverty and family stability affecting school performance in chiefly urban areas, Diamond and Lewis instead situate their research in a suburban school, and look at what factors within the school itself could be causing the disparity. Most crucially, they challenge many common explanations of the “racial achievement gap,” exploring what race actually means in the school context and how it matters.

An in-depth study with far-reaching consequences, Despite the Best Intentions revolutionizes our understanding of both the knotty problem of academic disparities and the larger question of the color line in American society.”
– publisher description

Will College Pay Off?

Will College Pay Off

Will College Pay Off?: A Guide to the Most Important Financial Decision You’ll Ever Make
by Peter Cappelli

LB 2342 .C247 2015

“The decision of whether to go to college, or where, is hampered by poor information and inadequate understanding of the financial risk involved.

Adding to the confusion, the same degree can cost dramatically different amounts for different people. A barrage of advertising offers new degrees designed to lead to specific jobs, but we see no information on whether graduates ever get those jobs. Mix in the frenzied applications process, and pressure from politicians for “relevant” programs, and there is an urgent need to separate myth from reality.

Peter Cappelli, an acclaimed expert in employment trends, the workforce, and education, provides hard evidence that counters conventional wisdom and helps us make cost-effective choices. Among the issues Cappelli analyzes are:

  • What is the real link between a college degree and a job that enables you to pay off the cost of college, especially in a market that is in constant change?
  • Why it may be a mistake to pursue degrees that will land you the hottest jobs because what is hot today is unlikely to be so by the time you graduate.
  • Why the most expensive colleges may actually be the cheapest because of their ability to graduate students on time.
  • How parents and students can find out what different colleges actually deliver to students and whether it is something that employers really want.

College is the biggest expense for many families, larger even than the cost of the family home, and one that can bankrupt students and their parents if it works out poorly. Peter Cappelli offers vital insight for parents and students to make decisions that both make sense financially and provide the foundation that will help students make their way in the world.”
– publisher description

Creative Schools

Creative Schools

Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education
by Ken Robinson, Ph.D. and Lou Aronica

LB 1590.5 .R64 2015

“In Creative Schools, Ken Robinson expands upon his famous TED talk “How Schools Kill Creativity” and presents groundbreaking, practical solutions to a critical issue for our nation: how to transform our troubled educational system.

At a time when standardized testing businesses are raking in huge profits, when many schools are struggling, and students and educators everywhere are suffering under the strain, Robinson points the way forward. He argues for an end to our outmoded industrial educational system and proposes a highly personalized, organic approach that draws on today’s unprecedented technological and professional resources to engage all students, develop their love of learning, and enable them to face the real challenges of the twenty-first century.

Filled with anecdotes, observations, case histories, innovative research, and recommendations from professionals around the country who are on the front line of transformative education – and written with Robinson’s trademark wit and engaging style – Creative Schools will inspire teachers, parents, and policy makers alike to rethink the real nature and purpose of education.”
– publisher description

Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be

Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be

Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania by Frank Bruni

LB 2351.2 .B78 2015

“Over the last few decades, Americans have turned college admissions into a terrifying and occasionally devastating process, preceded by test prep, tutors, all sorts of stratagems, all kinds of rankings and a conviction among too many young people that their futures will be determined and their worth established by which schools say yes and which say no.

That belief is wrong. It’s cruel. And in WHERE YOU GO IS NOT WHO YOU’LL BEFrank Bruni explains why, giving students and their parents a new perspective on this brutal, deeply flawed competition and a path out of the anxiety that it provokes.

Bruni, a bestselling author and a columnist for the New York Times, shows that the Ivy League has no monopoly on corner offices, governors’ mansions or the most prestigious academic and scientific grants. Through statistics, surveys and the stories of hugely successful people who didn’t attend the most exclusive schools, he demonstrates that many kinds of colleges – large public universities, tiny hideaways in the hinterlands – serve as ideal springboards. And he illuminates how to make the most of them. What matters in the end are a student’s efforts in and out of the classroom, not the gleam of his or her diploma.

Where you go isn’t who you’ll be. Americans need to hear that – and this indispensable manifesto says it with eloquence and respect for the real promise of higher education.”
– publisher description

Too Hot to Handle

Too Hot to Handle

Too Hot to Handle: A Global History of Sex Education by Jonathan Zimmerman

HQ 57.3 .Z56 2015

Too Hot to Handle is the first truly international history of sex education. As Jonathan Zimmerman shows, the controversial subject began in the West and spread steadily around the world over the past century. As people crossed borders, however, they joined hands to block sex education from most of their classrooms. Examining key players who supported and opposed the sex education movement, Zimmerman takes a close look at one of the most debated and divisive hallmarks of modern schooling.

In the early 1900s, the United States pioneered sex education to protect citizens from venereal disease. But the American approach came under fire after World War II from European countries, which valued individual rights and pleasures over social goals and outcomes. In the so-called Third World, sex education developed in response to the deadly crisis of HIV/AIDS. By the early 2000s, nearly every country in the world addressed sex in its official school curriculum. Still, Zimmerman demonstrates that sex and education never won a sustained foothold: parents and religious leaders rejected the subject as an intrusion on their authority, while teachers and principals worried that it would undermine their own tenuous powers. Despite the overall liberalization of sexual attitudes, opposition to sex education increased as the century unfolded. Into the present, it remains a subject without a home.

Too Hot to Handle presents the stormy development and dilemmas of school-based sex education in the modern world.”
– publisher description