Don Hosek - Past reading - Education

General information on education here. Mostly class reading, some stuff I've picked up on my own, whatever it takes to be a first-rate educator (which probably doesn't involve a lot of reading of books).

What I've been read in the past - Education
Geek Dad's Guide to Weekend Fun by Ken Denmead
[Finished 11 January 2013] Maybe it’s because of my lack of kids, but I didn’t really find most of the ideas in this book that interesting or worthy of doing. Maybe in a later version of myself my attitude will change, but for now I can see why this was on the hyper-discounted shelves of our local Border’s when they were closing down

The Dumbest Generation by Mark Bauerlein
[Finished 29 September 2011] I’m not sure what made me think that I would find this an interesting read, but ultimately, it came across as some interesting observations overwhelmed by an unhealthy dose of “get off my lawn” conservatism. Unless people have the same respect for the classics that Bauerlein does, they clearly are philistines and responsible for the decline of civilization. I was more annoyed than anything else reading this book. There are some good arguments to be made along the lines of what Bauerlein wants to say, but Bauerlein’s own limited horizons cause him to fail at the task.

The Creative Writing MFA Handbook by Tom Kealey
[Finished 23 September 2011] Breezily written, I found this a bit of a mixed bag. There were some parts that were useful, some not so much (the section going into details on MFA programs didn’t address any that I could realistically attend), but the section on workshops seemed remarkably useful to me.

Getting What You Came For: The Smart Student's Guide to Earning an M.A. or a Ph.D. by Robert Peters
[Finished 14 November 2005] A great book on how to get into (and out of) graduate school. The book is quite a bit longer than I expected it to be (some 400 pages), and portions of it are a bit dated (most particularly anything related to technology), and I frequently wished that he’d not lump all disciplines together.

The section on job-hunting is painfully flawed, however, as it doesn’t deal with the academic job search in any way at all, but this is offset by excellent advice for getting into graduate school and getting the degree in the most efficient way.

My Freshman Year by Rebekah Nathan
[Finished 15 October 2005] A fascinating account of an anthropology professor’s study of college students. Rebekah Nathan (a pseudonym), took a year off of teaching, and entered the university where she taught as a freshman using only her high school transcripts for placement. She moved into the dorms for the year and took classes with the students.

There are some things that I read and my thought was, “duh, of course,” but much that I didn’t. The experience of attending a large state school is quite different than my own undergraduate experience of nearly twenty years ago at a small private college, and this is helps me get some insight into what my own students are going through. (It’s worth noting that my community college students have a different experience than do my Cal State students).

There are some insights here which I doubt that I would have ever found on my own, like the role of ethnic societies on campuses (non-majority students primarily interact with people who are not like them. This gives them a chance to spend time with people like them), and a handful of ideas which directly will impact my teaching, although much less of that than I had hoped.

The First Days of School: How to be an Effective Teacher by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong
[Finished 14 October 2004] An outstanding book, one that I wish I’d gotten more than a week before the beginning of classes. While some parts of the book are geared towards K-8 education, it’s relatively minimal and there’s a great deal here for the secondary teacher as well. There’s also plenty for the experienced teacher as well as the new teacher. It’s not necessarily enough in itself to make you a great teacher, but it will help an awful lot

Made in America: Immigrant Students in our Public Schools by Laurie Olsen
[Finished 9 May 2004] A thought-provoking case study of the socialization of immigrant students in a northern California high school.

Olsen’s writing begins with a sense that we’re going to get a rather ideologically driven work, but thankfully, reality intervenes and her ideology is not a driving force in the work.

Few if any solutions are offered. Primarily this is a book about raising questions, designed to make teachers and administrators (and presumably also students and parents) think about questions of race, class and culture in American schools. I don’t see this as a book that will give me solutions for dealing with immigrant students in my classroom, but it is a book that will make me aware of the questions relating to their presence in the classroom.

Making Minutes Count Even More: A Sequel to Every Minute Counts by David R. Johnson
[Finished 8 March 2004] Sequels are never as good as the originals, and alas, this volume falls into that same category. There’s an awful lot of the book dedicated to what seems a bit like filler: multipage letters to parents, detailed classroom expectations, etc. I think perhaps about half of it seems particularly useful, and none of it is essential. Get Every Minute Counts and skip this one.

Every Minute Counts: Making Your Math Class Work by David R. Johnson
[Finished 28 February 2004] Johnson is a Wisconsin math teacher who’s managed to come up with a classroom procedure which works quite well for him and for others. His suggestions are often difficult to implement, if only because they require breaking student and teacher habits (for example, when questions are asked of the class, the teacher is to ask the question, pause give all students a chance to think about the question, then ask a particular student to respond). I’ve been working on trying to incorporate his ideas into my teaching, and I’ve found that they do in fact work quite well, it’s just that modifying habits thing which is difficult. I look forward to next fall when I can attempt the process with a clean slate with my students

Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education by John Dewey
[Finished 1 January 2004] A sometimes interesting, sometimes perplexing, sometimes maddeningly dense collection of essays. Dewey is very much the prime influence in contemporary educational thought and if you’ve not read Dewey, then you really aren’t likelyto know much about how education is thought about. However, I think that much that’s useful with these essays somewhat requires a bit of a guide, whether in the form of a helpful professor, or some other supplementary work. In isolation, Dewey can be difficult to digest.

The Excellent Teacher's Handbook by Jerome C. Yanoff
[Finished 11 November 2003] A thin little book, but remarkably useful. It consists of a series of 60 multiple-choice questions followed by brief essays. This is a book to be dipped into periodically to instigate thought about different aspects of being a teaching professional. I don’t always agree with the answers that Yanoff provides for some of his questions, but he provides sufficient reasoning behind his answers for me to consider why I disagree and whether I should agree.

The Moral Life of Schools by Phillip W. Jackson, Robert E. Boostrum and David T. Hansen
[Finished October 2003] Really a book about interpretting case studies more than anything else. Ignore the title and use this as a sourcebook for thinking about how to interpret classroom observations.

Moral Principles in Education by John Dewey
[Finished 10 September 2003] Way overpriced for a brief public domain text. There are some good ideas here, but this should not be a $15 book. If it’s a class assignment, get together with some friends and split the photocopying costs.

My First Year as a Teacher by Pearl Rock Kane
[Finished 9 September 2003] A captivating account of a variety of teachers’ first year experiences. If there’s any flaw, there’s not a lot about teachers who failed miserably. There was one teacher who was so successful, I found him to be just plain annoying.

Exceptional Learners: An Introduction to Special Education by Daniel P. Hallahan and James M. Kauffman
[Finished 14 July 2003] A pretty good survey text. I like the case studies and sidebars.

Uncommon Fathers: Reflections on Raising a Child With a Disability edited by Donald J. Meyer
[Finished 3 July 2003] A selection of narratives about raising special needs children from the perspective of the fathers. There are a wide range of disabilities, ages and experiences reflected, from the actively involved father to the father who guiltily relates the institutionalization of his child. A nice supplement to the more academic treatments of the subject.

Popular Culture, Educational Discourse, and Mathematics by Peter M. Appelbaum
[Finished 13 May 2003] Interesting, but not terribly compelling. I picked this up when it was recommended by someone on a math ed mailing list that I used to subscribe to, but it didn’t strike me as something that I felt compelled to read again, or remember after I read it.

Teaching Secondary Mathematics: Techniques and Enrichment Units by Alfred S. Posamentier and Jay Stepelman
[Finished 7 March 2003] An outstanding book. Portions of the body are a bit poorly conceived (e.g., the difference between pre- and post-standards lesson planning is not well presented), but overall this book provides a great resource for the teacher of mathematics.

Existentialism in Education: What it Means by Van Cleve Morris
[Finished 4 December 2002] More a case for nihilism in education at times. There are times that Morris has some good ideas about educational philosophy, but his unwillingness to establish his starting point for his philosophy means that he has no starting point. Ruling out reason as a guiding point was something I found particularly troubling.

One of the lessons of Deconstructionism (and also mathematical axiomatic theory) is that the choice of one’s foundations is somewhat arbitrary. That said, it doesn’t mean that those starting points do not still need to be selected!

Adolescents Worlds: Negotiating Family, Peers, and School by Patricia Phelan, Anne Locke Davidson and Hanh Cau Yu
[Finished 4 November 2002] A selection of case studies of high school students along with some commentary on their relationships to family, peers and school from a educational psychologist’s perspective.

The Aims of Education and Other Essays by Alfred North Whitehead
[Finished 4 November 2002] Better known as a mathematician, Whitehead also gave a fair amount to educational practice.

McKeachie's Teaching Tips by Wilbert J. McKeachie
[Finished 14 September 2002] Geared towards the college professor, this is a good compilation of pedagogical guidelines. Definitely worth a re-read.

Experience and Education by John Dewey
[Finished 3 September 2002] A slender paperback which pretty well encompasses most of what Dewey has to say.

Teaching Mathematics in Colleges and Universities: Case Studies for Today's Classroom by Solomon Friedberg et al
[Finished 27 August 2002] A collection of scenarios for new university teachers covering pedagogical technique, diagnosing misconceptions in students and awarding partial credit while grading.

I found it a little thought-provoking at first, but quickly outgrew it.

Escalante: The Best Teacher in America by Jay Mathews
[Finished 4 August 2002] An outstanding biography of Jaime Escalante, the inspiration for the film Stand and Deliver.

Unlike the film, you get a very real idea of what Escalante’s challenges and struggles with teaching his students were and you learn that he didn’t immediately transform a group of students struggling with fractions into a group of calculus superstars.

The cheating controversy is addressed (it’s likely that there was cheating by the students), but it’s really one of the least interesting aspects of the story.

It’s well worth tracking down a copy of this (out-of-print) book.