Schooling for Life: Reclaiming the Essence of Learning

Schooling for Life: Reclaiming the Essence of Learning

Schooling for Life: Reclaiming the Essence of Learning

Schooling for Life: Reclaiming the Essence of Learning


The activities that transpire within the classroom either help or hinder students' learning. Any meaningful discussion of educational renewal, therefore, must focus explicitly and directly on the classroom, and on the teaching and learning that occur within it. This book presents a case for the development of classrooms in which students are encouraged to construct deep understandings of important concepts.

Jacqueline Grennon Brooks and Martin Brooks present a new set of images for educational settings, images that emerge from student engagement, interaction, reflection, and construction. They have considerable experience in creating constructivist educational settings and conducting research on those settings. Authentic examples are provided throughout the book, as are suggestions for administrators, teachers, and policymakers.

For the new edition of their popular book, the authors have written an introduction that places their work in today's educational renewal setting. Today, they urge, the case for constructivist classrooms is much stronger and the need more critical.


I've written this book backwards. I didn't start at the beginning because I couldn’t find it. A dear friend, Vivian Doremus, and my wonderful husband, Martin Brooks, volunteered to be critical readers, and with each draft, they responded that they followed the writing, but that there was no good beginning. Perhaps that’s a metaphor for the education we all experience as we live our lives. Each of us is thrust into a world that is already in full swing. Our task is to make ourselves into who we want to be while simultaneously fitting ourselves into the world we are constantly constructing. It’s not easy being human.

I eventually found the beginning of this book in the beginning of my own life, recalling memories of myself as a child trying to make sense of a world full of contrasts and confusions. As a youngster, I experienced school as a place to put in time. There were so many things I wanted to know … but there were so very few occasions in school to learn them. There were so many explorations to begin, wonders to analyze, discrepancies to resolve… but it seemed that school was not the place to do this.

Today, as an educator, my primary mission is to make school a place in which my students do not simply “put in time” but one where they invest time and effort in solving problems they see as relevant—problems they want to solve. Living and learning and teaching occur everywhere. This book is about how we might, in the name of progress, blur the distinctions between “school life” and “real life,” between learning and teaching, between learning well and living well.

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