Holding On to Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones: Six Literacy Principles Worth Fighting For

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $3.35
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 89%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (13) from $3.35   
  • New (4) from $25.26   
  • Used (9) from $3.35   


Tom's new chapter, Speaking Back to the Common Core, is NOW AVAILABLE!
Click here to read.

"Holding On to Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones is my new favorite book about how to live as a teacher. Finishing it, I experienced what I can only describe as a state of grace-moved, renewed, and grateful that a mind like Tom Newkirk's has been intrigued by classroom matters for almost forty years now."
-Nancie Atwell
Author of In the Middle, Second Edition

"Classic Newkirk: direct, incisive, and brimming with wisdom."
-Harvey "Smokey" Daniels
Coauthor of Comprehension & Collaboration

This book is one of the best teacher books ever. I'll be giving copies of it to lots of teacher friends as we find our way back to trusting what we know about kids, about learning, and about teaching writing.
-Gretchen Bernabei
Author of Reviving the Essay

Holding On to Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones is for every teacher who has struggled under top-down mandates, who ever had to slavishly follow the script of a reading lesson, who ever felt that tests were driving instruction. It is for those whose good, humane, and sensitive ways of teaching literacy are threatened by rigid, mechanical programs. It is for teachers who feel they are losing control of their daily work.

Hear a podcast, where Tom Newkirk and Nancie Atwell discuss teaching principles worth fighthing for.
In Holding On to Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones, Tom Newkirk eloquently defends teaching against the "cult of efficiency" that turns classrooms into assembly lines of knowledge. Newkirk goes beyond diagnosing the problem to present six ideas worth fighting for. These transformative practices gently but firmly return instructional decisions to where they belong: with you, our teachers. Newkirk shows how to:

  • increase your instructional emphasis on writing to reflect the reality that producing text is more important than ever
  • help students access deep knowledge and expand their thinking through time to write freely
  • build strong connections between school learning and the real world by teaching with popular culture
  • propel the development of reading skills by helping students discover the pleasure of reading
  • provide the time and space for meaningful, long-lasting teaching and learning by uncluttering the curriculum
  • spark professional growth and avoid stagnation by discussing failure and uncertainty with colleagues.

Holding On to Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones is affirming, not argumentative. It celebrates the humanity and unpredictability of teaching with Newkirk's blend of humor, passion, and warmth. Let it inspire a search for the things in your teaching that are most worth holding on to.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780325021232
  • Publisher: Heinemann
  • Publication date: 2/5/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 824,293
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Newkirk's most recent books with Heinemann are The Art of Slow Reading (2011), Holding Onto Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones (2009) and Teaching the Neglected "R" (2007, coedited with Richard Kent). His Misreading Masculinity (2004) was cited by Instructor Magazine as one of the most significant books for teachers in the past decade. A former teacher of at-risk high school students in Boston, Tom is Professor of English at the University of New Hampshire, the former director of its freshman English program, and the director and founder of its New Hampshire Literacy Institutes. He has studied literacy learning at a variety of educational levels - from preschool to college. His other Heinemann and Boynton/Cook titles include the NCTE David H. Russell Award winning Performance of Self in Student Writing (Boynton/Cook, 1997), Taking Stock: The Writing Process Movement in the 90s (Boynton/Cook, 1994, coedited with Lad Tobin), and Nuts & Bolts: A Practical Guide to Teaching College Composition (Boynton/Cook, 1993). In addition, Tom is coeditor (with Penny Kittle) of Children Want to Write, which is a collection of Donald Graves' most significant writings paired with recovered videotapes that illuminate his research and his inspiring work with children and teachers, and coeditor (with Lisa Miller) of The Essential Don Murray, which gathers the most important insights about writing and teaching writing from "America's Greatest Writing Teacher." Thomas Newkirk has been named the 2010 recipient of the Gary Lindberg Award for his outstanding contributions as a faculty member of the University of New Hampshire. Read the Award Announcement ยป
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)