Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Thank you, David Perkins

                Recently I vented my mock indignation about the title of David Perkins’ latest book, Making Learning Whole. I promised to post on it again after I had read the book. I recently finished it, and I have one overall reaction I want to emphasize:
Read this book!
It’s an important book, one that should be an integral part of any conversation about education. Perkins mixes idealism and practicality, theory and reality, with plenty of excellent true-life examples blended in. The essential idea is that we learn best when we are doing so in a holistic, integrated, natural fashion. The metaphor Perkins uses throughout—broken into seven categories—is baseball. You can quickly see how apt the metaphor is, and it’s easy to substitute many other experiences.
                I found myself nodding and notating more in this book than I had in many years. Since you will, of course, be reading it, I don’t want to give too much away. But I’ll gloss over a few of my favorite parts:
·         Every section ends with a great set of prompts that begin “I wonder…” They force reflection on the ideas from the chapter. I could see a teacher reading the chapter and then journaling, then adding to an entry as ideas arose.
·         Perkins’ coining of the term elementitis to capture the piecemeal approach to education, which leads to “an informational backdrop rather than an improving and enlightening body of understanding” (Kindle edition, loc 252).
·         His argument that, unlike the irrelevance students often complain of, that education as playing the whole game “gives the enterprise more meaning” (302).
·         The contention that the “real criterion of understanding has to be performance” (964).
·         The vision that, instead of individual work being so dominant, students engage in “extreme team learning” (3247).
·         His notion of education resorting to a “hearts-and-mind” (1600) approach. I simply can’t capture it in a bullet point.
I know I’m giving such a positive review because I’m a member of the choir . But I’m also trying to be gracious. I already said I was mad about the title. Now I’m neon-green-eyed with jealousy that I didn’t write this book.

No comments: