Cover: Inside Teaching: How Classroom Life Undermines Reform, from Harvard University PressCover: Inside Teaching in PAPERBACK

Inside Teaching

How Classroom Life Undermines Reform

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$31.00 • £26.95 • €28.95

ISBN 9780674022454

Publication Date: 09/01/2006


288 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

4 line illustrations, 15 tables


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Every teacher will recognise the constant feature [observed by Kennedy], the unpredictable kinetic energy in every class of children and the fact that if something can go wrong, it probably will. Grasp this fact, Kennedy says to the baffled reformer, and your various policies for school improvement will work better. Fail to grasp it, and they may not work at all. Worse, they could be counter-productive.—Michael Duffy, The Times Educational Supplement

Kennedy…does something of immense value to all those who would reform teaching practice in America: she opens the door to the classroom and describes—precisely and respectfully—what teaching looks like. More important, she asks teachers to think and talk about their intentions, beliefs and priorities. Unlike much educational research, where an observer breaks teaching behaviors into incomprehensible bits, or writes about teaching from the perspective of the expert, Kennedy’s portrayals of teaching ring true. Any well-meaning reformer would exponentially increase the likelihood of success by reading and understanding the challenges of mundane daily teaching practice that Kennedy illustrates… The greatest contribution of the book is Kennedy’s careful and nuanced analysis of why reforms so often fail… Kennedy clearly believes that both challenging curriculum and good teaching are critical to school reform—and that teaching can and must be improved. Her clear-eyed and very accessible approach to better teaching, learning and schools is an enormous gift to those whose passion is a great teacher for every kid. Mary Kennedy has achieved the near impossible: she’s written a book of solid research on teaching that every teacher should read.—Nancy Flanagan, Teacher Leaders Network

A wonderful new book… The reader is likely to come away from Inside Teaching wondering whether the real problem isn’t reformers’ unrealistic expectations. Essentially, they’re expecting teachers to be all things to all people—an expectation we don’t have of any other group of professionals.Teacher’s Magazine

Inside Teaching is an important read for policy makers and other decision makers; it is a reminder that genuine education is a complex and fragile process that takes into account the idea that every student is a valuable contributor to the world and not a product to be assembled.—Sergio Mora, Childhood Education

This thoughtfully conceived and clearly presented study sheds light on typical teacher concerns and approaches and concludes with the recommendation that reform initiatives will succeed only if their authors are responsive to the full range of complexities that teachers face on a daily basis.—Jean Caspers, Library Journal

An absolutely outstanding book, and a major contribution to the literature on teaching. Inside Teaching advances our understanding of teaching practice by giving a disciplined, empirical account of the ways in which teachers conceive of and enact their practice, and [relates it to] current debates about education reform. Every student in my class will be reading this book.—Richard F. Elmore, Gregory Anrig Professor of Educational Leadership, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Anyone interested in the relationship between policy and practice, the (slow) progress of reform, and the nature of teachers’ work in the face of persistent but shifting reform pressures will find Inside Teaching a remarkable contribution.—Judith Warren Little, Professor of Education, University of California, Berkeley

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