Learning in Mind

Rethinking the Purpose of Education

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Stack of Books

While there are hundreds of books on all aspects of education, schools, teaching, and learning, this list is limited to a few that, in my estimation, are the most relevant for today's educational issues. 

The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness, by Todd Rose, Ph.D. One of the top "must-read" books of 2016, this book traces the sordid history of the concept of the "average" person. "…We know people learn and develop in distinctive ways, but these unique patterns of behaviors are lost in our schools…which have been designed around the mythical 'average person.'"

Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That's Transforming Education, by Ken Robinson, Ph.D. "In Creative Schools, Sir Ken Robinson expends upon his famous TED talks "How Schools Kill Creativity" and "Bring on the Learning Revolution" (See video resources), and presents groundbreaking, practical solutions to a critical issue for our nation: how to transform our troubled education system."

Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter Gray. Developmental psychologist Dr. Peter Gray draws on evidence from anthropology, psychology, and history to demonstrate that free play is the primary means by which children learn to control their lives, solve problems, get along with peers, and become emotionally resilient.

The Best Schools: How Human Development Research Should Inform Educational Practice by Thomas Armstrong. Published in 2006, The Best Schools is extremely useful in understanding the difference between schools obsessed with "academic achievement" and those built on authentic human development.

Counting What Counts: Reframing Education Outcomes by Yong Zhao et. al. Born in China and currently Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas, Yong Zhao has authored over 20 books including "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon." He has been described as a freedom fighter for a more humane and effective educational system. "A timely challenge to our cultural obsession with data, Counting What Counts is a must-read for anyone interested in the future of our education system, but especially for politicians and business-minded backers whose worship of tests have fundamentally and unquestioningly failed our students." The authors describe their research on the skills and characteristics necessary to learn and live successful in the 21st century.

Unwritten, The Story of a Living System: A Pathway to Enlivening and Transforming Education by Lori Desautels and Michael McKnight. "Learning is the most natural thing human beings do. Schools are not machines. Schools are a network of human beings who feel, think, behave, and function within a human system that is alive and never static. Schools are living systems."

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