At recent conferences I had promised to put up a fuller Bibliography for people wishing to pursue further the issues raised in presentations. To publish such a list in itself is not difficult; I do this below, and have double-asterisked what I think could be the twenty most useful books to read.
But simply to leave it at this is not sufficient for those of you determined to so understand all this that you yourselves can make the case that (a) the whole purpose of education is give the learner the confidence not to remain dependent on teachers, (b) the present structure of schooling is upside-down inside-out, and (c) that the very nature of the curriculum in Western education has recently evolved primarily to enable young people to fit into a consumerist approach to life, rather than equipping them to develop an approach to their own lives which would lead to personal, global and ecological sustainability.
In 1994 Education 2000 published a booklet entitled “Learning Makes Sense; recreating education for a changing world”. This was the first attempt by the predecessor of the Initiative to show how economic, social and biomedical issues come together. A year later the 21st Century Learning Initiative was established and in 1996 we published what was ambitiously called “The Synthesis”. It was a bold attempt to do what I subsequently do in my lectures — namely to make as coherent a synthesis of all the recent writings on how the brain learns, and how humans function, as a group of some sixty people working over a year, could produce. Although it is now more than ten years old it is still worthwhile reading, especially for those new to all this material. It is available on this website as a PDF file.
Nearly four years later we produced a paper more related to the implications of this for formal schooling. This useful document — “The Policy Paper” — is also available as a PDF document on this website. Now, in 2007, it is still widely referred to by groups worldwide.
About the same time, responding to the comments often made at conferences — “This is particularly useful because you make things all the more understandable by setting them in terms of your own life experience” — I wrote “The Child is Father of the Man; How humans learn and why”. The aim of this was not so much to flood the world with my own experience, as to help readers appreciate that they probably each had life stories of their own to tell that would illuminate the way they were trying to explain the theory. That book, which has now sold more than 10,000 copies, is still available from the Initiative office in Bath for £15 inclusive of post and packaging.
A year later I and my colleague Terry Ryan wrote “The Unfinished Revolution; Learning, human behaviour, community and political paradox” as an attempt to draw all this together. Teachers and administrators have found this very useful. It is a serious read; it is challenging of much of what we currently take for granted, and makes excellent follow-up reading to a lecture. That is also available from the Initiative for £15 while in the United States and Canada it can be purchased from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) priced $25.95, and in Australia from Hawker Browlow Education (www.hbe.com.au).
In late 2001 I started to write a book aimed at making it easier for the general public to appreciate all these issues. As it grew it became an ever more ambitious attempt to combine theory and practice in a user-friendly way. It was entitled “Master and Apprentice; Reuniting thinking with doing”. Just as it was finished the potential publisher was taken over by another company. In seeking a new publisher I was persuaded to rewrite all this material, modelled on Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses of 1517. This became known as “Towards Finding a New Order in Education”. Eighteen months later, in the summer of 2006, this was finished. While many people thought that I should have persevered and gone ahead with the publication of “Master and Apprentice” in 2004, the later book “Towards Finding a New Order in Education”, is, at 100,000 words, more concise, and of more immediate use to current practitioners. Both of these are available, as extended PDF files, on application to the website organiser at this address. (This is necessary to do it in this fashion for copyright purposes).
However, neither book, as yet, does what I believe is really essential — produce a book that would appeal both to the general and the academic reader. That is the market I’m determined we should reach. It’s not a market which is at all well defined. Hardly ever has a book on education made it to the “best seller” section of a book store.
Consequently, I have recently (March 2007) set about distilling all this into a much shorter (and hopefully highly useable) book of 60,000 words which I hope will be published before the end of the year. This is to be entitled “What is wrong with Education: A guide for the perplexed”.
Into these three books has been put all the experiences of the Trust over a very full and exciting five years (much of which is contained in the various articles also to be found on this website). However only when this, my third attempt, is published will the Initiative have a book that is able to quickly guide readers in how to make full sense of the expanded bibliography, which in itself remains a distillation of the 6,000 books the Initiative has accumulated over the past twenty years.
In addition to the publication of this new book, an important further development of the Trust’s work will occur later this year (2007) when the Canadian 21st Century Learning Initiative, as supported by the Canadian Council for Learning, will set up a properly structured electronic, distance-learning website to be entitled “Responsible Subversives — Why Education isn’t Working; A guide for the perplexed”. This is a massive undertaking, well able to deal with the complexities of the user demand that we are aware is waiting to be satisfied. It will eventually contain direct tutorial support for those people beginning to take a serious interest in these affairs.
Until finally the book is published, and secondly the Responsible Subversives website is functioning, the Initiative will have to leave it to the individual reader to find their own way through this rich array of resources.