On My Two Recommendations for Gregory Michie and Daniel Willingham

Jose Vilson Education, Resources

Here’s my first big confession of 2012: I’ve been reading a lot. You’d think, Vilson, that’s not a big deal for you. I’d reply, “As a matter of fact, yes it is.” Huge. Not just my monthly GQ / Wired fix, either (with dabbles of Men’s Health). In the last few months, I’ve read about a book every two weeks on average. More importantly, a couple of them hadn’t even come out to the general public yet …

Until this month. I’m proud to recommend two of the books I’ve read in 2012 that got my mind clicking: Gregory Michie’s We Don’t Need Another Hero: Struggle, Hope, and Possibility in the Age of High-Stakes Schooling and Daniel Willingham’s When Can You Trust The Experts: How to Tell Good Science from Bad in Education. Both of these books are two sides of the same coin I’ve been flipping for the last five months. They’re both sincere efforts at creating solutions their audiences haven’t heard yet, and both speak to the need for further dialogue about the teaching profession in the 21st century.

On Michie’s book, I said:

“Gregory Michie’s experiences in the classroom and his purview post-teaching make this a good peek into the thoughts of a man willing to challenge the current notions of education reform. Rather than sit in frustration over the current tenor surrounding these so-called reforms, Michie seeks meaningful progress and solutions.”

To expound, anyone who has ever read his first book Holler If You Hear Me knows he provides perspective on teaching in an urban community without the hokey-pokey uber-privilege of predecessors like Freedom Writers or Dangerous Minds. In this book, he expounds on his initial views on education through his new lenses as community activist and education professor.

On Willingham’s book, I said:

“Willingham’s When Can You Trust the Experts? provides teachers with an in-depth guide on how to parse the helpful from the abhorrent. With the plethora of education research today, teachers finally have a book that asks us to challenge the validity of current education products through a simplified scientific approach. Unlike other education research books, however, Willingham prefers to spark conversation and invite educators in.”

Many of you know how much I admire his work around psychology (specifically, learning styles), but he’s also revealed a fair amount of his views on education policy. WCYTTE is an attempt at giving educators a leg up on third-party vendors who have dominated the market with ridiculous claims that only sound reasonable to the gullible. Unfortunately, the gullible happen to occupy a huge space in the education field. Improving educators’ ability to research in the efficient manner Willingham suggests may be one of the best kept secrets for education reform of 2012 …

That is, until now. Here’s hoping both books appear on all your bookshelves. I rarely recommend books to read in this space. Go ahead and get these. Don’t thank me later, though. Thank them.

Jose, who feels so good about this …