Getting Schooled: The Reeducation of an American Teacher by Garret Keizer
Perhaps no profession is so constantly discussed, regulated, and maligned by non-practitioners as teaching. The voices of the teachers themselves are conspicuously missing. Defying this trend, teacher and writer Garret Keizer takes us to school—literally—in this arresting account of his return to the same rural Vermont high school where he taught fourteen years ago.
Much has changed since then—a former student is his principal, standardized testing is the reigning god, and smoking in the boys’ room has been supplanted by texting in the boys’ room. More familiar are the effects of poverty, the exuberance of youth, and the staggering workload that technology has done as much to increase as to lighten. Telling the story of Keizer’s year in the classroom, Getting Schooled takes us everywhere a teacher might go: from field trips to school plays to town meetings, from a kid’s eureka moment to a parent’s dark night of the soul.
At once fiercely critical and deeply contemplative, Keizer exposes the obstacles that teachers face daily—and along the way takes aim at some cherished cant: that public education is doomed, that the heroic teacher is the cure for all that ails education, that educational reform can serve as a cheap substitute for societal reformation.
Angry, humorous, and always hopeful, Getting Schooled is as good an argument as we are likely to hear for a substantive reassessment of our schools and those who struggle in them [F-Inside cover].
How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey
From an early age, it is drilled into our heads: Restlessness, distraction, and ignorance are the enemies of success. We’re told that learning is all self-discipline, that we must confine ourselves to designated study areas, turn off the music, and maintain a strict ritual if we want to ace that test, memorize that presentation, or nail that piano recital.
But what if almost everything we were told about learning is wrong? And what if there was a way to achieve more with less effort?
In How We Learn, award-winning science reporter Benedict Carey sifts through decades of education research and landmark studies to uncover the truth about how our brains absorb and retain information. What he discovers is that, from the moment we are born, we are all learning quickly, efficiently, and automatically; but in our zeal to systematize the process we have ignored valuable, naturally enjoyable learning tools like forgetting, sleeping, and daydreaming. Is a dedicated desk in a quiet room really the best way to study? Can altering your routine improve your recall? Are there times when distraction is good? Is repetition necessary? Carey’s search for answers to these questions yields a wealth of strategies that make learning more a part of our everyday lives—and less of a chore.
By road testing many of the counterintuitive techniques described in this book, Carey shows how we can flex the neural muscles that make deep learning possible. Along the way he reveals why teachers should give final exams on the first day of class, why it’s wise to interleave subjects and concepts when learning any new skill, and when it’s smarter to stay up late prepping for that presentation than to rise early for one last cram session. And if this requires some suspension of disbelief, that’s because the research defies what we’ve been told, throughout our lives, about how best to learn.
The brain is not like a muscle, at least not in any straightforward sense. It is something else altogether, sensitive to mood, to timing, to circadian rhythms, as well as to location and environment. It doesn’t take orders well, to put it mildly. If the brain is a learning machine, then it is an eccentric one. In How We Learn, Benedict Carey shows us how to exploit its quirks to our advantage [F-Inside cover].