January 20, 2010
Al Boerema asks the question: What are some books that all Christian educators should read?
January 30, 2010
Christian Altena begins the discussion:
I must admit that I don’t find myself reading very much outside my subject area, especially during the school year. So to start, a Christian teacher should be well read within their discipline. As a history teacher, I believe I owe it to my students to be a digger and a researcher. I want to provide them the rich background of stories and opinions that their textbooks are so bad at consistently providing. The teaching of history can be especially lively because of the subject’s constant dance with perspective, opinion, and revision. As a result, a Christian history teacher’s reading should include a multitude of perspectives.
Here’s a partial list of history books that are well thumbed:
- The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln, by Sean Wilentz
- American Colonies: The Settling of North America, by Alan Taylor
- A History of the American People, by Paul Johnson
- A People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn
- Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, by Carl Sandburg
Another book I keep returning to is Creation Regained, by Al Wolters. I have found this book to be invaluable in helping me communicate to my students just what it is that a Reformed and Christian education is all about. Ideas like the four worldview questions (Who are we? Where are we? What’s the problem? What’s the solution?), the concepts of “structure/direction,” and the “sacred/secular” dichotomy frequently find expression in my classroom.
February 15, 2010
New panel member Rebecca De Smith joins the discussion:
I agree with Christian that it is hard for teachers to find time to read outside of their discipline, especially during the school year. But the flexibility of summer offers teachers an opportunity to refocus and refresh themselves as they look ahead to the challenges of a new school year. Here are some books that have helped to shape many teachers and classrooms:
- A Vision With a Task, by Gloria Stronks and Doug Blomberg—A wonderful book to remind teachers of what’s really important in their classrooms and schools.
- Teaching as Storytelling, by Kieran Egan—A short book that challenges teachers to incorporate meaning into their teaching and engage students through using effective storytelling.
- How to Be an Effective Teacher: The First Days of School, by Harry and Rosemary Wong—This book is filled with practical ideas on classroom management for any education student or teacher.
- Strategies That Work, by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis—I had to add this book to the list since reading and comprehension are skills that affect every other subject area.
- Educational Leadership—Okay, I know this isn’t a book, but every time I read an issue, I feel like I’ve been to a mini-conference. Perhaps all the articles aren’t pertinent to my discipline, but I always feel like I’ve gained a new perspective on an issue or trend in education. It keeps me thinking about the educational world beyond my classroom.
February 15, 2010
Bruce Wergeland offers another perspective:
I have been wrestling with this question for some time, and I have decided that I cannot answer it. Let me explain.
First, the question implies that all Christian educators read purposefully: to imagine reality from a different perspective or so that they can assess their own perceptions, biases, or priorities. They don’t. Unfortunately, for some, teaching becomes simply a job and reading is only for leisure, not for learning. However, most Christian educators are lifelong students, and consequently, there are no excuses, no best books, and limited time to read a book twice. Books are purchased, cherished, and reviewed when new thoughts call for the wisdom of a second opinion. The quotes and chapters of books become constant companions that continually challenge educators to perceive the world with a greater sense of empathy.
Second, I do not believe there can be an exclusive reading list for any Christian educator because books represent the ideas and narratives of individuals, and all readers select, critique, and consume books that appeal to their own understanding of humanity.