great books on teaching

Since I have less than two months until I start working in Korea as an elementary homeroom teacher….(YIKES, wot), I’ve been reading as much as I can. My library has some great resources, so I thought I’d share some recent reads that really stood out to me.

real Talk

Real Talk for Real Teachers by Rafe Esquith (And anything else he wrote)

This book was incredible. If you’re in the education field in the US, chances are you’ve heard of Room 56 and the Hobart Shakespearians. Fifth grade students put on an annual Shakespeare play complete with custom classic rock accompaniments and dances. Ian McKellen was impressed. But apart from this astonishing side project, Rafe has a totally awesome and wonderful way of connecting with his students and inspiring them to become competent beings who always behave. Teacher’s dream. Definitely give it a read, or anything else by him.


The End of Education by Neil Postman (Also anything else by him, education related or otherwise, this man is a genius)

Postman is one of those prophetic writers who seem to be able to understand humanity better than most of us would like. My other favorite book by him, Amusing Ourselves to Death, is an eerie and honest look at how close we are to Huxley’s Brave New World, where people are controlled by their addiction to amusement. Sound familiar? The End of Education is less doomsday, but just as honest. It’s main theme is to discover what the point, the end, of education currently is and what it should be. To briefly summarize, currently most schools encourage the theme of economic utility (school = great job = lots of money), but Postman argues that schools must have a better theme for them to work and really inspire students. I agree.


Creative Schools by Sir Ken Robinson (I should just stop putting these in parentheses. Just read everything, eh?)

I actually first read Robinson’s books on finding your element; self-improvement style books all about finding where your passions meet your talents. Those books are incredible, but I was even more enamored of him when I heard his views on education. Most of his books are about those geniuses who do poorly in school or don’t go at all but end up becoming world renowned artists and figures. Pretty much any book of his will share something of his views on how important that arts, music, and dance are to good education.


The One World Schoolhouse by Salman Khan

I never used Khan Academy growing up. I wish I had. I did fine in math in school, but I never understood it. I had what Khan calls a “swiss cheese” education in math, full from the outside by full of holes. Fortunately, lots of children have benefited from his videos, and plenty of adults too. Khan promotes a totally new way of doing school, and while the book is kind of a journey of how he created Khan Academy, he has some remarkably insightful ideas about how education will change, and how it should change. I was totally chomping on the bit to make something cool after reading this.

These are just a few of the many I’ve read lately – I’ve also been reading about child development, disabilities, theories by Piaget, Montessori, and Waldorf, and basic guides to teaching elementary. If you have any recommendations for me, share them! There’s so much out there it’s hard to know what’s good and what’s not.



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