The Children's Book Compass

Why School?

Posted on: February 8, 2010

Why School? Reclaiming Education for All of Us by Mike Rose.  (2009).  New Press.  177 pages.  For adults.  Nonfiction.

Our public schools are the bedrock of our democracy.  Today they are under assault.  Mike Rose shows us why and makes a compelling case for how we can reclaim our educational system.  He raises provocative questions that can start a national conversation about how to do so:

…how to educate a vast population, how to bring schooling to all, what to teach and how to teach it, who will do it, what the work will mean to them—what we can help make it mean to them.  (p. 164)

He clearly articulates how important it is that as a society we consider the purpose of schooling.

How we think about and voice the purpose of school matters.  It affects what we put in or take out of the curriculum and how we teach that curriculum.  It affects the way we think about students—all students—about intelligence, achievement, human development, teaching and learning, opportunity and obligation.  And all of this affects the way we think about each other and who we are as a nation. (p. 169)

Rose shows how without such a national consideration our current purpose for schooling has been narrowed to:–

… economic competitiveness, our kids becoming economic indicators.  We’ve reduced our definition of human development and achievement—that miraculous growth of intelligence, sensibility, and the discovery of the world—to a test score.  (p. x)

Mike Rose is a professor in the Graduate School of Education at UCLA.  He is the author of several other thoughtful books.  His Lives on the Boundary was a seminal book for me.  Why School? is even more significant.  It is imperative to read and discuss it in order to begin the vital conversations and work needed to reclaim our public education system.  I will use it as a text to start that conversation in my education classes.  I urge others to do the same and then to share it with everyone you know.

1 Response to "Why School?"

Thanks for this suggestion. We are always looking for a good “One School(of Ed), One Read” book. I have not read this but will order it today.

(Your blog is quite thoughtfully designed. Thanks for including me in the “guest list”.)

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