Dan Heller provides a thought provoking commentary on the direction of America's schools. His advocacy for helping learners develop habits of caring, involvement, curiosity and commitment will strike a responsive chord in the hearts and minds of dedicated educators everywhere. Dan's work is a sensitive and centering approach to meeting the needs of our country's children as they move through today's broken educational system.
Heller's four prongs of preparation for participation in a democracykindness, thinking, problem-solving, and communicationsexemplify the 'less is more' approach to education. Rather than creating automatons with standard-issue knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors, curricula designed with these four tenets would promote actors/agents in the world who would question, take risks, reflect, and consider context, complexity, and connectedness. Such students/citizens would engage in relationships with their learning/living . . . and yes, relationships can be messy. With a populace grounded in these qualities, however, we might have a shot at practicing true democracy.
Dan Heller's thoughtful analysis of the purpose of learning and his impassioned call for a reconceptualization of our educational system are intriguing and timely. In this well-written and compelling book, he invites all of us to re-dedicate our teaching and to make our classrooms more vibrant, more relevant, and more humane.
Dan Heller is an experienced educator. He has done it all from teaching, to administration, to instructional district-level leadership. By the virtue of his broad success in the multiple arenas of our profession, he has earned the right to be called a leader in the profession. We need more "leaders" in teaching andin particularwe need to hear from seasoned expert educators who can weigh in on the inter-relationships between practice and policy. I admire Dan's effort in this regard. He is attempting to help teachers and other educators envision a practice that both addresses the mandates we face yet does so with integrity. [He] strives to articulate modes of approaching the thorny predicaments of practice through a system that celebrates thinking, moral engagement, and holistic conceptions of children living in an ecology.