Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Fourth Generation Teacher: Yes, I Read Nonfiction...My Top Ten of 2014

Fourth Generation Teacher: Yes, I Read Nonfiction...My Top Ten of 2014:

Yes, I Read Nonfiction...My Top Ten of 2014

These blogs are inspired by my friend and reading buddy, Nancy Flanagan. I learn so much from her, and we often appreciate the same books. We share our reading and keep each other honest. She is a treasure in my life. She posted a blog about education books she’d read this year, and I saw some books we read in common. Love her take on books.

My husband and I are both librarians…I’ve worked in schools and he’s taught in Universities. We both love to read. We literally have books in every room of our house…the laundry room is the last stop for books to be donated. We love to read and have sat together happily reading…completely different kinds of books…for nearly 50 years.

Bob teases me about my love of fiction, and I shake my head at the strange nonfiction turns his reading takes. We have read and enjoyed books together: Twain’s Letters from the Earth (as college students we actually bought two copies because the current reader would giggle too much and the partner could not stand to be left out), Killing Mr. Watson, by Peter Mathiesson, a wonderful crossover of fiction based on the life of Belle Starr. I also think we read The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance together years ago.

So, Bob expects me to read nothing but fiction and last year was surprised that I actually included nonfiction on my Top Ten.

This year I’ve done one better…a Top Ten Nonfiction list! Drum roll, please. Now, in all honesty, my new-found love of audible books really helped my nonfiction reading, as did a couple of research projects related to fiction reading, but Look at Me! I read nonfiction.

I will always read books on education, and four made my list…nearly half of my total

The Educator and the Oligarch, by Anthony Cody, is a fierce look at Bill Gates and his Foundation. Cody took on the education reformer early, and had several exchanges with folks from the Foundation. This book is a masterful compilation of these conversations, as well as a deep history of Gates’ work dismantling education. I said when I reviewed it that my favorite part was his evaluation rubric of Gates’ work in education reform. Still makes me giggle. I wrote a blog post here, with some background on Cody and his influences on my own education life.

The Teacher Wars by Dana Goldstein was enlightening. I remember stumbling into my History of Education course at Indiana University and finding out my instructor had the reputation of blowing off the history of education. So, my background was especially weak.  I learned a ton reading this book, and Goldstein put it into context for me. The research is top-notch; the writing is elegant.  I realized I didn’t review it because I was too busy collecting 10+ pages of quotes to reflect on.  Oops.

50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education by David Berliner and Gene Glass blew me away. I haven’t felt like such a book groupie about an education book since The Myths of Standardized Tests by Harris…maybe it’s the word ‘myth’. Seriously. My copy is marked and sticky-noted. What do you say when your State Representative absolutely believes voucher will save our schools? You turn to page 41 and read the research. Not opinions. Research. Everyone who cares
about public education needs to own this book.

Bad Teacher!: How Blaming Teachers Distorts the Bigger Picture by Kevin Kumashiro. Like Anthony’s book, I had read some of this, or had learned it. But it was put into context here…He organizes his book through questions and then investigates each.  Kumashiro is from Chicago, and he describes their efforts to build a real consensus around the schools around four visions. That was so inspiring…I wonder how it played out under the current mayor. I don’t have the heart to check right now.

So much for my professional reading…now onto nonfiction reading for pleasure.

One of my last audible ‘books’ was actually a Great Courses lecture series: Beethoven – His Life and Music, by Robert Greenberg. When I tweeted about the ‘book’, Greenberg retweeted! Fan girl moment.! Fourth Generation Teacher: Yes, I Read Nonfiction...My Top Ten of 2014: