Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Books written about research in education tend to follow the pattern of describing a major issue that everyone is already talking about, presenting some statistics that make the problem seem worse, and then describing ways that teachers can, in the classroom, deal with said problem. Gallagher does not stray from this pattern in even the slightest way.
I like that he presents clear classroom practices that promise to increase students' frequency and quality of independent reading. I also like that these methods are all things that used to be more common in public schools and that he explains why we have gotten away from them and why we need to go back to them. I've been talking to teachers in my school about the research Gallagher presents, and will be trying many of his suggestions in the coming school year.
Unfortunately the world needs more than that.
I do not like that this book is written for an audience of only teachers. If we believe that there are problems in education in America that we can effectively address, we have to also recognize that teachers are no longer the decision makers in education. We failed to hold on to that power decades ago. Gallagher briefly describes some ways of talking administrators into supporting more pro-reading policies on a classroom level, but no place does he adress those administrators directly. We do not need more books written to help teachers manage the shitty reality of our profession. We need books written to empower teachers to improve the state of education outside of the confines of our classrooms and help policy makers (who are not teachers and do not read education research) and politicians understand what they are doing that is hurting the learning of our children in this country. Your governor, your local legislature, and probably even your school board does not understand why the policies that they mandate do nothing to improve anything, and this book will not help them in any way.