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Democratic Schools: Lessons in Powerful Education

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Every once in a while, with the passage of time, a classic book takes on even greater relevance. The first edition of Democratic Schools was praised by legions of education professionals for showing how to create schools and classrooms with democratic values in mind; it was hailed for its clear-eyed assessment of the important role schools continue to play in promoting de Every once in a while, with the passage of time, a classic book takes on even greater relevance. The first edition of Democratic Schools was praised by legions of education professionals for showing how to create schools and classrooms with democratic values in mind; it was hailed for its clear-eyed assessment of the important role schools continue to play in promoting democracy, its traditions, and its thinking. Now an expanded and updated edition of Democratic Schools arrives, increasingly relevant in a time of inequitable accountability-based reform, standardized assessments, and cookie-cutter curricula. Michael Apple and James Beane return to challenge reform movements such as No Child Left Behind by asserting that our schools have a vital and historic connection to the continued success of our democratic way of life. Democratic Schools, Second Edition, shows in detail how educators can make a lasting difference by combining authentic, important lessons and a consistent, building- or system-wide focus on a critical and democratic education. Apple and Beane once more convene seven of America's most creative democratic educators for a powerful conversation about how to build an education that is worthy of our highest ideals. The essays that made the first edition so potent are here in their entirety, each followed by brand-new retrospective insight from their writers, educators who have proven that teachers and administrators can bring the nation's most noble values to life every day. Grounded in a robust understanding of democracy, education, and the exigencies of our political and social systems, the second edition of Democratic Schools goes beyond updating and expanding the stories of the schools it originally chronicled. It adds new material-including a brand new chapter from Apple and Beane-that provides crucial lessons for creating and sustaining democratic schools, and that once again inspires teachers, administrators, and educational leaders to adopt ways of framing their mission that can create and sustain our democratic way of life-even in these difficult times.


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Every once in a while, with the passage of time, a classic book takes on even greater relevance. The first edition of Democratic Schools was praised by legions of education professionals for showing how to create schools and classrooms with democratic values in mind; it was hailed for its clear-eyed assessment of the important role schools continue to play in promoting de Every once in a while, with the passage of time, a classic book takes on even greater relevance. The first edition of Democratic Schools was praised by legions of education professionals for showing how to create schools and classrooms with democratic values in mind; it was hailed for its clear-eyed assessment of the important role schools continue to play in promoting democracy, its traditions, and its thinking. Now an expanded and updated edition of Democratic Schools arrives, increasingly relevant in a time of inequitable accountability-based reform, standardized assessments, and cookie-cutter curricula. Michael Apple and James Beane return to challenge reform movements such as No Child Left Behind by asserting that our schools have a vital and historic connection to the continued success of our democratic way of life. Democratic Schools, Second Edition, shows in detail how educators can make a lasting difference by combining authentic, important lessons and a consistent, building- or system-wide focus on a critical and democratic education. Apple and Beane once more convene seven of America's most creative democratic educators for a powerful conversation about how to build an education that is worthy of our highest ideals. The essays that made the first edition so potent are here in their entirety, each followed by brand-new retrospective insight from their writers, educators who have proven that teachers and administrators can bring the nation's most noble values to life every day. Grounded in a robust understanding of democracy, education, and the exigencies of our political and social systems, the second edition of Democratic Schools goes beyond updating and expanding the stories of the schools it originally chronicled. It adds new material-including a brand new chapter from Apple and Beane-that provides crucial lessons for creating and sustaining democratic schools, and that once again inspires teachers, administrators, and educational leaders to adopt ways of framing their mission that can create and sustain our democratic way of life-even in these difficult times.

30 review for Democratic Schools: Lessons in Powerful Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    While I appreciated Democratic Schools' concepts and ideas, I must also document some of my frustrations with the book's organization and execution. I'll begin with what I liked. First, the educators the authors selected worked in a variety of educational contexts and with a variety of kids across the country. Democratic education, the authors want us to understand, is possible in both urban and suburban contexts and with kids labeled gifted and talented as well as at risk. It can also be created While I appreciated Democratic Schools' concepts and ideas, I must also document some of my frustrations with the book's organization and execution. I'll begin with what I liked. First, the educators the authors selected worked in a variety of educational contexts and with a variety of kids across the country. Democratic education, the authors want us to understand, is possible in both urban and suburban contexts and with kids labeled gifted and talented as well as at risk. It can also be created as part of a community-wide re-imagining of the school space or as through the efforts of a single committed teacher. Additionally, I thought that the types of democratic education the authors chose to profile were laudable both in concept and practice. The Fratney School's bilingual, anti-racist curriculum represented a vast political project that required community-wide commitment; the Central Park East High School implemented an impressive portfolio system that provided a more holistic assessment of students' progress through high school, helping them take pride in their academic growth as well as their ultimate accomplishments. My frustrations come as a would-be democratic educator seeking to take away practical lessons to use in the classroom. In this case, the text proved muddy. Each educator adopted a similar approach to describing their unique approach to democratic education; this means you have to read through each six different curricular philosophies, six different accounts of institutional hurdles overcome, six different sets of inspiration anecdotes, six different recitations of shortcomings, and six different vaguely worded prescriptions to would-be democratic educators. Rarely did I come away from a chapter saying, "Wow, this is important, and I need to start doing this in my classroom -- and I now I know how." Rather, I usually thought "Huh, this is interesting, but I would need to see this school in action and talk to teachers and students to understand how it really looks and feels." In other words, this text often piqued my curiosity about more democratic possibilities for education, but failed to deliver substantive answers of how, exactly, to implement it. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit and spend the day in one of the schools profiled in the book. The visit raised a third frustration: the school I saw was a bit different from its depiction in the book (a product of the original textual account being over twenty years old). Even though my version of Democratic Schools was supposedly a second edition updated in 2007, the authors had not noted some (fairly sizable) changes in the school's curriculum that had taken place since the original piece's publication. In the same update, the text glosses over the fact that two of the other schools profiled have since closed and at least three of the educators profiled no longer work in the classroom on a daily basis. If there is a third edition, some of the profiled schools need a more in-depth accounting of their evolution since the book's original publication. Programs that have altered to the point they no longer qualify as "democratic schools," need to be replaced with new schools' democratic initiatives. If democratic education is to persist as a viable alternative to corporate-style, accountability-driven ed reform, readers need more than the fossilized memories from erstwhile educators from which to draw inspiration and practical lessons to apply to today's classrooms.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Celeste

    As someone who works in the field of community schools I'm not a practitioner in the classroom so I wasn't sure what I might get out of this book. Many of the case studies center around student directed class projects and curriculum that examine social issues within the context of their communities. I really hope to fold in some of the ideas of setting up democratic processes in schools as well as projects that allow for more student directed learning into my community schools work.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chrissy

    This is the only way to teach in urban America. I have worked with James Beane and Barbara Brodhagen. They are both amazing. With their guidance and love, I have taught in a democratic way and can't imagine doing anything else.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Rose

  5. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bookaddict

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brian Kingfisher

  8. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Perry

  10. 5 out of 5

    Helga

  11. 5 out of 5

    Justin

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ipek

  13. 4 out of 5

    Juli Curtis

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rocío

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Toran

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ajsue

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Lauter

  18. 5 out of 5

    Seth Loika

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ajsue

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anna

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kent Holland

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Milner

  23. 5 out of 5

    David

  24. 4 out of 5

    Myrna W. Gantner

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  26. 5 out of 5

    Juny Montoya

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

  28. 5 out of 5

    Simone Bensdorp

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kris

  30. 4 out of 5

    Paula Quenoy

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