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Log in to Witsby: ASCD’s Next-Generation Professional Learning and Credentialing Platform
February 1, 1997
Vol. 54
No. 5


Multicultural Education

Multicultural Education: Transformative Knowledge and Action by James A. Banks. New York, New York: Teachers College, 1996.
White America needs to be redefined and now is the time to do it, says James Banks. The future of America will require everyone, regardless of ethnicity, race, gender, culture, social class, or sexual orientation, to become partners in the "dance of diversity." Our schools must prepare all the partners to share the lead in this dance.
Banks uses a case study approach to reconstruct the history of our present knowledge of race in America. Critical analyses of the historical contributions of pioneering African-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American, and Native-American scholars of both genders illuminate the fundamental flaws in the dominant white-European viewpoint. The authors also clarify why the strategies of eradication, assimilation, denial, and ignorance of human differences have not and will not succeed in America.
To guide educators in implementing and assessing programs dealing with diversity, Banks identifies five dimensions of multicultural education: content integration, the knowledge construction process, prejudice reduction, an equity pedagogy, and an empowering school culture and social structure. Banks argues that each dimension requires deliberate attention to incorporate transformative (multicultural) scholarship into the curriculum, thereby moving content about cultural, racial, ethnic, and gender issues from the margins to the center of the curriculum. The new multicultural curriculum will empower students to reinterpret American history by comparing the dominant mainstream accounts of events. Students also will understand that knowledge is constructed by human beings, who have subjective viewpoints, and that insiders and outsiders have different perspectives of the same event. Anyone concerned about the "dance of diversity" in America will find value in this book.
Published by Teachers College Press, 1234 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027. Price: $26.95.
—Reviewed by Roger Bennett, Dean, College of Education, Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri.

School Wars

School Wars: Resolving Our Conflicts over Religion and Values by Barbara B. Gaddy, T. William Hall, and Robert J. Marzano. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc., 1996.
Disputes between educators and religious conservatives have waylaid school reform in communities across the United States. The authors of School Wars, two staff members of a regional educational laboratory and an emeritus professor of religion, have produced an informative and readable resource that should be enormously valuable to educators hoping to understand these battles and, if possible, avoid them.
Beginning with a brief sketch of a typical community conflict, School Wars describes several conservative organizations most concerned with education and outlines some of the strategies their members use to influence school systems. Part Two analyzes the state of public education and identifies some of the topics, such as whole language, thinking skills, and sex education, that are often targets of traditionalist critics. Part Three, "Understanding Our Differences," includes an insightful analysis of the contrasting perspectives of Christian fundamentalists, mainline Christians, and religious liberals.
School Wars concludes with sound advice for educators. The authors recommend that schools do a better job of teaching about religion and that they work closely with parents and other citizens to develop values-based character education programs. They outline suggested policies on teaching controversial issues and responding to parent complaints. They point to efforts by ASCD and other organizations to seek common ground at the national level. Finally, they return to the scenario that began the book and recount how the fictitious controversy was satisfactorily resolved. Could it really happen that way? Yes, they say, but only within a framework of understanding, mutual respect, and appreciation for democratic principles. Such a framework offers our best chance for replacing school wars with community peace.
Published by Jossey-Bass Inc., 350 Sansome St., San Francisco, CA 94104. Price: $25 ($34, in Canada).
—Reviewed by Ron Brandt, Assistant Executive Director, ASCD.

Star Teachers of Children in Poverty

Star Teachers of Children in Poverty by Martin Haberman. West Lafayette, Indiana: Kappa Delta Pi, 1995.
The key to improving education in urban schools, argues Martin Haberman, is identifying the qualities of the 5 to 8 percent of the teachers who are "star teachers of children in poverty." He describes the attitudes and practices that distinguish successful urban teachers from the people he dismisses as quitters and failures.
Star Teachers is both a passionate critique of an educational system that fails children who depend on it for their only hope of survival and a celebration of educators who create possibilities for their students. One of Haberman's harshest judgments is reserved for teacher education. He compares current efforts to train teachers to work in urban classrooms with "preparing to swim the English Channel by doing laps in the university pool."
The strength of the book is its description of excellent teaching practice based on caring relationships and a teacher's love of learning. This makes it a valuable resource.
Haberman apparently believes that the qualities of star teachers can be nurtured where they already exist, but that they cannot be taught. The task for urban schools is to select and coach the potential stars. Herein lies the book's significant limitations. Haberman never discusses what will happen to students in all of the other classrooms, nor does he satisfactorily explain how "star teachers" will be sustained as schools continue to deteriorate around them. Important issues neglected in his discussion are broader reform proposals for restructuring schools; empowering students, communities, and teachers; recruiting minority educators; developing culturally relevant curriculums; or revising teacher education.
Published by Kappa Delta Pi, P.O. Box A, West Lafayette, IN 47906-0576. Price: $15.
—Reviewed by Alan J. Singer, Hofstra University School of Education, Hempstead, New York.

Waging Peace In Our Schools

Waging Peace In Our Schools by Linda Lantieri and Janet Patti. Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1996.
"American children have become more aggressive, more impulsive, more disobedient, more lonely, more sad. This decline in the very nature of the emotional and social life of children may in fact be more alarming than the dip in SAT scores. That's the bad news," say Lantieri and Patti. The good news, they say, is that increasing violence is not inevitable. Using many examples, the authors illustrate their thesis that the ability to manage emotions, resolve conflict, and interrupt biases are "fundamental skills—skills that can and must be taught."
The book is hopeful but not simplistic. The authors' experiences in schools and neighborhoods where violence is endemic have given them an appreciation of the complexity of the problem. They consider the wide range of causes of violence—from the media to societal norms. They then offer suggestions for battling violence on all fronts.
Billed as a practical guide, the book presents the core components of the authors' Resolving Conflict Creatively Program. The middle chapters, however, sometimes read more like commercials than guides for the practitioner. The authors tout the program for its effectiveness without helping readers learn how to achieve similar results without the program. What should the teacher struggling with violence in the school do first?
Waging Peace In Our Schools is, on the whole, a powerful call to hope and to action. It is a book any teacher or administrator concerned about violence and prejudice will appreciate.
Published by Beacon Press, 25 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108. Price: $22.
—Reviewed by Terry Beck, Federal Way Public Schools, Federal Way Washington.

To Be A Teacher

To Be A Teacher by Eric Henry, Jeff Huntley, Corrine McKamey, and Laura Harper. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press, 1995.
Remember your first day as a teacher? The feel of the classrooms, the voices, the fear? To Be a Teacher makes the memories flood back. These four teachers came together at Trinity University in San Antonio, where they were required to present a portfolio of their year-long experience as student teachers. As Thomas Sergiovanni observes in his foreword, all four are middle-class, white teachers working in a primarily Hispanic school community. The uninitiated may see this as irrelevant, but anyone who has been a student teacher won't. The challenge is formidable enough without working in an unfamiliar culture.
Corrine McKamey's approach is to take her class of teenagers on a camping trip. "If you want to know your students," she maintains in her comic account, "you must rub elbows with them as they discover life." Jeff Huntley confesses to his compulsion to stay hours after school. He calls this time "The Transformation," as the activities all have to do with returning some sense of order to the school.
Laura Harper shares her elation at the withdrawal of a particularly disturbed student. "How would you feel if a kid turned in a paper and all it said was, 'I want to kill a teacher'?"
Eric Henry describes a more hopeful scenario. He relates how playing basketball after school helped him reach one disruptive student. The student—Julio—began to improve at the sport. Henry likens Julio's experience to his own frustration at learning to teach: Shooting a basket isn't something you can just do. It's an art. You have to develop a feel for the basket, you have to develop a touch. You'll get it. It just takes time.
Published by Corwin Press, 2455 Teller Rd., Thousand Oaks, CA 91320-2218. Price: $18 paper, $40 cloth.
—Reviewed by Sheryl Cohen, University of Virginia.

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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