An Overview of the Book
This book is for anyone who cares deeply about education. It is for anyone who believes education can be significantly improved and who is frustrated with the parade of educational innovations of the past half century that seem to have accomplished so little. During the 1970s, standardized test scores were steadily declining while school budgets were increasing. From 1955 to 1985, per-pupil expenditures rose 300% after adjustment for inflation, and the growth in school budgets continues. For 3 decades, Americans have pumped money into schooling. In 1984, Goodlad wrote in his report on American schools,
There is even a growing mood that some schools are now beginning to improve rather than continuing to get worse. . . . The change in mood may stem from little more than the belief that conditions in our schools have bottomed out. The only way to go now is up. (p. xv)
But the evidence now is that little progress has been made in school improvement. Almost daily we read in our papers reports on new studies that indicate American children lag behind those in most industrialized nations. Our national illiteracy rate and school dropouts rates are also among the highest for all developed nations. Why? Why has progress been so slow even, in the exceptional schools?
Have you wondered why so many people you encounter seem unable to think out the simplest of problems? Indeed, have you wondered why you may have failed to see the solution to a problem that, retrospectively, appeared so simple? Contrast this with observations we all have made where very young children have seen solutions before we have. Why is it that finding and executing solutions to common problems appears to be so uncommon? In short, why do people have so much difficulty in organizing, using, and creating knowledge? This is a question for which