During the last three decades, education reformers have pushed standardized testing and policies like No Child Left Behind and Common Core to improve test scores and proficiency in basic skills. However, during this period that author Thomas Armstrong calls the "miseducation of America," a number of troubling trends have surfaced, including a decrease in creative thinking scores among children in kindergarten through third grade.
Rather than focus on what's wrong with the education system that has produced these outcomes, Armstrong lays out what creative thinkers know about how children should be educated. In an extended thought experiment, he asks what would happen if we turned the reins of educational policy over, not to the politicians and educational bureaucrats, but to eminent thinkers and creators like Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, Martin Luther King Jr., Rachel Carson, Doris Lessing, Jane Goodall, and other seminal culture-builders. What might they say about the best way to educate a child? If Einstein Ran the Schools suggests that the answers to this intriguing question should guide future efforts to reform our nation's schools.More info →
Reading instruction (as well as remedial reading) typically uses words, word, and more words. In this ground-breaking work, based upon Dr. Howard Gardner's famed theory of multiple intelligences, Dr. Thomas Armstrong reveals that some of the most effective learning strategies for teaching reading and writing are actually methods that reach beyond the linguistic (or word) brain and into other non-linguistic areas of the brain, such as the musical brain, the kinesthetic brain, the naturalist brain, the social brain, and the emotional brain.
Dr. Armstrong provides hundreds of examples to illustrate his method. So, for the musical brain, students learn the music of words by chanting stories. For the kinesthetic brain, kids create gestures to go with every one of the 45 phonetic sounds of the English language. For the social brain, students de-construct the implicit social messages of a text (e.g. is this text an advertisement, a political speech, an instructional tool, or a literary effort?). For the naturalist brain, students look for the ''roots'' of words by engaging in etymological excavation. For the emotional brain, students learn to read words that express emotion and activity (like SPLAT! POP! BOOM! CLINK! etc.).
As Dr. Armstrong demonstrates, the most effective reading programs are those that combine phonemic awareness with actively reading real books. But to learn those crucial phonics skills, students need to link phonetic sounds to music, physical experiences, social events, emotional states, logical analysis, and more! That way, the otherwise ''boring'' teaching will transform into dynamic and exciting lessons that students will always remember.
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Educators, politicians, parents, and even students are consumed with speaking the language of academic achievement. Yet something is missing in the current focus on accountability, standardized testing, and adequate yearly progress. If schools continue to focus the conversation on rigor and accountability and ignore more human elements of education, many students may miss out on opportunities to discover the richness of individual exploration that schools can foster.
In The Best Schools, Armstrong urges educators to leave narrow definitions of learning behind and return to the great thinkers of the past 100 years—Montessori, Piaget, Freud, Steiner, Erikson, Dewey, Elkind, Gardner—and to the language of human development and the whole child.
The Best Schools highlights examples of educational programs that are honoring students’ differences, using developmentally appropriate practices, and promoting a humane approach to education that includes the following elements:
Educators in “the best schools” recognize the differences in the physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual worlds of students of different ages. This book will help educators reflect on how to help each student reach his or her true potential, how to inspire each child and adolescent to discover an inner passion to learn, and how to honor the unique journey of each individual through life.More info →