of books by Diane Ravitch

DIANE RAVITCH is Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education. In addition, she is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. .

The Language Police:
How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn

by Diane Ravitch
Knopf, 2003

There are two aspects to education reform. One is the perceived quality or lack thereof in public education. Ravitch's latest take on this is discussed in her newest book 'The death and life of the great american school system' (see below). The other is the curriculum, what students are supposed to learn and how. And this is addressed in the 'Language Police'. What is said and not said is often important, but so are the choices of terminology. Language is a constantly changing expression of our civilizations and words once deemed proper can be insulting or demeaning today. The latest change in rewriting the history curriculum in Texas is a good example. School, after all, reflects our choice of understanding of the world.


The Death and Life of the Great American School System:
How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education
by Diane Ravitch
Basic Books, 2010

School systems all over the world are under constant construction. It is called school reform. As it turns out, even these reformers of education can change their mind about what works and what does not. The focus now shifts away from reform of education to a more fundamental question. What does or does not work in public education? What is the purpose of reform, since there is constant reforming without any reasonable change? What everyone does agree on, is that reform without providing the necessary financial and technical support never succeeds. What we also know is that those school where everyone spends extra time and effort - students, teachers and administrators - always perform on top. There is no avoiding the hard work. It is like exercise. For Ravitch, a main aspect of rediscovering the hard work in education is to set goals before education starts (she wants a curriculum centered, rather than the child centered education). It is called a curriculum and it involves learning facts and skills - also referred to as knowledge. Higher order knowledge builds open knowledge learned at earlier levels.

May 25, 2010 /  © 2010 Lukas K. Buehler / go back to Book Review Home