My new book is out from Rowman and Littlefield, “Why Teach? Notes and Questions from a Life in Education.” Why did I write this book?
We’re living through a dark age for education. In the course of 150 years, roughly since the Civil War, we’ve transformed child rearing into an industrial system. We’ve taken a wonderfully complex, intimate, relational, and fundamentally human enterprise and turned it into a system of mass production. In the process, we’ve robbed children and youth of the joy of learning and, with each successive generation, we diminish our creative capacity and collective intelligence as a society. It’s no surprise that we have an economy that’s all-war-all-the-time, enormous income inequality, scandalously bad public health, an unsustainable food chain, deep environmental damage, and a democracy in crisis.
I landed accidentally in teaching many years ago, and from my vantage point as teacher, I began to understand that the priorities for the system were order, control, and a kind of pseudo-efficiency. I decided to do what I could to change the system, or at least my little corner of it. And that’s what I’ve spent the last thirty-plus years doing.
I spent the first part of my career, the first 25 years, starting up new schools, schools that hew more closely to our biological and psychological makeup. Now I advocate for such schools. I observe and write about what I see, and I continue to teach. The audience for my writing these days is mostly other academics, which is okay, but I want to reach a wider audience. Most people won’t read research, but they’ll read a good story. So I’ve used the form of a personal narrative-- a story, my story-- to get at big, important issues in a way people will listen to. That’s my gamble anyway.
This book is a journey inside American education and a story of self-discovery that exposes the damaging impact of our industrialized system of schooling while showing there are other, better, more constructive paths. It is a book for clear-eyed realists who are nonetheless filled with hope and ready to roll up their sleeves. I hope you get as much from reading the book as I got from writing it.
Here’s the link to the book: https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781475820355