HOW E=MC^sup 2^ SHAPES THE DEBATE ON EDUCATIONAL REFORM

Article excerpt

HOW E=MC^sup 2^ SHAPES THE DEBATE ON EDUCATIONAL REFORM Productive Learning: Science, Art, and Einstein's Relativity in Educational Reform By Stanlslaw D. Glazek and Seymour B. Sarason 2007, Corwin Press Paperback, 269 pages, $35.95

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Reviewer's rating: 2 out of 4

I remember reading Seymour Sarasons landmark book, The Culture of the School and the Problem of Change (Allyn & Bacon, 1971), as a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh. That book was an important part of my education about the nature of change in school systems. Sarasons latest book, coauthored with Stanislaw Glazek, also teaches us about the nature of change in school systems, but it does so by leading us on a torturous journey through Albert Einstein's theory of relativity.

Confessions are best reserved for a confessional, but I must confess here that I had a difficult time getting through this book. I almost gave up. The first chapter read like a personal diary in which the authors recount in a rambling style their reasons for writing the book and explain their process. That process, which at first intrigued me, was for Glazek (a physicist) to teach Sarason (a psychologist) about the history and meaning of Einstein's E=MC^sup 2^ theory of relativity. The bulk of the book, 13 of 17 chapters, then focuses on explaining E=MC^sup 2^ as it was taught to Sarason. Although the authors wanted those chapters to communicate to readers Sarasons principles of productive learning, the chapters were very difficult to get through, especially when complex mathematical formulae were presented. I found those chapters personally unproductive.

But I persevered!

And the perseverance paid off in the last chapter, where Sarason clearly informs us of his concept of productive learning and reiterates his longstanding observation of the unceasing failure of educational reform (and the sharpness of his criticism is not blunted in this new book).

Sarasons concept of productive learning is not a new idea. And although he has been writing about it for years, his ideas are rarely implemented in school systems. He continues to argue for the need to transform school systems to create learning environments designed using the principles of productive learning. Productive learning, as he defines it, has several criteria, which he begins to describe on p. …