Schooling Beyond Measure

And Other Unorthodox Essays About Education

(Heinemann, 2015)

The Myth Of The Spoiled ChildIn this collection of provocative articles and blog posts originally published between 2010 and 2014, Alfie Kohn challenges the conventional wisdom about topics ranging from how low-income children are taught, to whether American schools have really fallen behind those in other countries. Why, he asks, do we assume learning can be reduced to numerical data? What leads us to believe that “standards-based” grading will eliminate the inherent limitations of marks? Or that training students to show more “grit” makes sense if the real trouble is with the tasks they’ve been given to do?

Kohn’s analytical style — incisive yet accessible — is brought to bear on big-picture policy issues as well as small-scale classroom interactions. He looks carefully at research about homework, play, the supposed benefits of practice, parent involvement in education, and summer learning loss — discovering in each case that what we’ve been led to believe doesn’t always match what the studies actually say. Kohn challenges us to reconsider the goals that underlie our methods, to explore the often troubling values that inform talk about everything from the disproportionate enthusiasm for STEM subjects to claims made for more “effective” teaching strategies.

During these dark days in which teachers are viewed as expendable test-prep technicians, and “global economic competitiveness” eclipses what children need, Kohn calls for us to summon the courage to act on what we already know makes sense.

Table of Contents

One:   How School Reform Undermines Education
1 “We’re Number Umpteenth!”: The Myth of Lagging U.S. Schools
2 Competitiveness vs. Excellence
3 What Passes for School Reform
4 STEM Sell: Do Math & Science Matter More Than Other Subjects?
5 How to Sell Conservatism: Lesson 1 – Pretend You’re a Reformer
6 Operation Discourage Bright People from Wanting to Teach
7 Remember When We Had High Standards? Neither Do I
Two:   Grades, Tests, And “Data”
8 The Case Against Grades
9 Schooling Beyond Measure
10 Turning Children into Data: A Skeptic’s Guide to Assessment Programs
11 Whoever Said There’s No Such Thing as a Stupid Question Never Looked Carefully at a Standardized Test
12 Why the Best Teachers Don’t Give Tests
Three:   In the Classroom
13 A Dozen Essential Guidelines for Educators
14 What We Don’t Know About Our Students – And Why
15 The Trouble with Calls for Universal ‘High-Quality’ Pre-K
16 Poor Teaching for Poor Kids . . . in the Name of Reform
Four:   What Kids Don’t Need
17 Grit: A Skeptical Look at the Latest Educational Fad
18 What Waiting for a Second Marshmallow Doesn’t Prove
19 What Do Kids Really Learn from Failure?
20 Criticizing (Common Criticisms of) Praise
21 Five Not-So-Obvious Propositions About Play
Five:   Misrepresenting the Research
22 Homework: An Unnecessary Evil?
23 Do Tests Help Students Learn, or Was a New Study Misreported?
24 Studies Support Rewards and Traditional Teaching. Or Do They?
25 Lowering the Temperature on Claims of Summer Learning Loss
26 Is Parent Involvement in School Really Useful?
27 Perfect, It Turns Out, Is What Practice Doesn’t Make
Six:   The Ends Behind the Means
28 Teaching Strategies That Work! (Just Don’t Ask “Work to Do What?”)
29 “Ready to Learn” Means Easier to Educate
30 Just Another Brick in the Wall
31 What Parents Aren’t Asked in School Surveys – And Why
Seven:   Making Change
32 Change by Decree
33 Encouraging Courage

Where to buy it

Click here to order the e-book edition directly from the publisher.

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