Many teachers first read the scholarship on teaching and learning when someone they respect and trust recommends a book or an article. Recommending a good and fitting reading is an act of generosity and possibility.
This has certainly been the case for me. The first book on teaching and learning that someone recommended to me remains for me the most meaningful and significant, both because it is significant and meaningful in its own right and because, I’m sure, of the particular role it played in my life.
Many people best know Parker J. Palmer for his book The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life. But I first read his earlier and shorter book, To Know as We Are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey. At the moment of reading, it defined for me my vision for learning. I read it in college and knew right away that I might spend a lifetime trying to live out what the book describes.
I next read Lives on the Boundary: A Moving Account of the Struggles and Achievements of America’s Educationally Underprepared by Mike Rose and Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom by bell hooks. Like Palmer’s, these books address the importance of reflective practice in teaching and learning, the role of education in the life of the spirit, and the role of education in promoting empowering the marginalized in society. All three of these books illustrate the human value of reading the scholarship on teaching and learning.
The same person recommended all of these books to me. And I remain deeply grateful.
Of course, these specific books will not strike everyone else as deeply or in the same way, though many have responded similarly to them. But such experiences are not required for reading to be worthwhile. Nonetheless, if we care deeply about our students and about learning, it is no surprise that readings on pedagogy may come to mean much to us on a personal level.
Consequently, as the manifesto says, recommending a good and fitting reading can be an act of generosity and possibility.
Photo by David Flores