The decade’s best education books?
The magazine Education Next is conducting a poll of its readers to determine the “best books” of the past decade in the education world, and though the voting continues, the trend is clear: Most of the top books are critical in some way of today's education reforms, and the No. 1 book, by Diane Ravitch, slams them.
The poll is hardly scientific, of course, but the results are ironic; books by the top three editors listed first on the magazine masthead, men who support many of today’s education reforms, are faring poorly in the voting.
The magazine listed 41 books (though missed some important works) and asked readers to choose three. It doesn’t define what “best book” means, but, presumably, it means best and most important content.
As of late Thursday night, here are the leading books, with the percentage each has captured in the voting. Note the commanding lead of the top book:
1) Diane Ravitch. The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. (Basic Books, 2010) 21.6%
2) Linda Darling-Hammond. The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future. (Teachers College Press, 2009) 7.6%
3) Daniel T. Willingham. Why Don’t Students Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom. (Jossey-Bass, 2009) 6.7%
4) E. D. Hirsch. The Knowledge Deficit: Closing the Shocking Education Gap for American Children. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006) 6.2%
5) Deborah Meier. In Schools We Trust: Creating Communities of Learning in an Era of Testing and Standardization (Beacon Press, 2002) 5.3%
Any regular reader of this blog will know that I wouldn’t argue a bit with the top results.
I think Ravitch's work, one of the very rare education books to become a bestseller, is terrific. I've written about it as well as about Darling-Hammond's book, urging everybody to read them, including President Obama. Willingham writes every Monday for this blog and I've posted pieces by Meier and Hirsch.
Meanwhile, the top three editors of Education Next as listed on the magazine's masthead are: Editor-in-Chief Paul E. Peterson, Senior Editor Chester E. Finn Jr., and Executive Editor Frederick M. Hess (who sometimes blogs for The Answer Sheet). It should be noted that Hess is one of four executive editors listed in alphabetical order and by virtue of his name is first.
Here’s how the books of those three men are doing in the voting:
Chester E. Finn Jr. Troublemaker: A Personal History of School Reform since Sputnik. (Princeton University Press, 2008) 0.6%
Frederick M. Hess. Common Sense School Reform. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) 0.5%
William G. Howell and Paul E. Peterson. The Education Gap: Vouchers And Urban Schools. (Brookings Institution Press, 2002) 0.4%
Take a look at the poll. Do the results mean anything? What books do you think are missing? What books do you think every parent should read?
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| September 3, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Daniel Willingham, Guest Bloggers, Reading | Tags: best education books, best education books of the decade, daniel willingham, diane ravitch, ed next's poll of books, education next, education next's poll, linda darling-hammong, poll of education books, the death and life of the great american school system, why don't students like school?
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