"Buy this book...then purhcase an extra copy or two to give to adminstartors, parents or anybody whose voice might be productive rasise for saner literacy instruction."
Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy
"Tom Newkirk is a masterful writer. . . . Through the many examples from his own life and years of teaching, he shows how important it is to bring relevance and choice into students’ lives so they will want to read, write, and learn."
Voices from the Middle
"Holding On to Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones is my new favorite book about how to live as a teacher. Finishing it, I experienced what I can only describe as a state of grace—moved, renewed, and grateful that a mind like Tom Newkirk’s has been intrigued by classroom matters for almost forty years now. In this new book Tom invites teachers to decide and lay claim to what’s worth fighting for, and he offers us substantive ammunition. His eclectic scholarship, spanning ages and disciplines, pierces the dogma and cant that can cloud our professional vision. He reminds us that we are professionals, not technicians, and he illuminates teaching as an intellectual endeavor: a continuous process of observations, small experiments, and reflections that inform and change what we do in the classroom. His realistic, humane argument for “the wisdom of practice” dignifies the work of a teacher. Both the classroom veteran and the novice will be heartened and braced by this brilliant book."
Author of In the Middle, Second Edition
"Lately, we teachers have been suffering through some truly bad times. But as Tom Newkirk observes in this brilliant and stirring book, we and our educational forbears have been fighting this battle for centuries. There is always a struggle to put children first, to honor knowledge over compliance, and to place humanity above the aims of the state. Newkirk’s good news: today we have an extraordinary opportunity to get things right. Always one of the most distinctive and thoughtful voices in education, Newkirk asserts that no curriculum can ever work unless it fits on the back of an envelope. And then he offers his own envelope-sized curriculum for teaching writing, four questions and sixteen focal points. That’s it. Classic Newkirk: direct, incisive, and brimming with wisdom."
—Harvey “Smokey” Daniels
Coauthor of Comprehension & Collaboration
"Rich with pedagogy and human enough to make you burst out laughing, Thomas Newkirk's thoughts made me feel both heartened and head-slapping awakened. This book is one of the best teacher books ever. I'll be giving copies of it to lots of teacher friends as we find our way back to trusting what we know about kids, about learning, and about teaching writing. The book is written for anyone who grapples with the modern quagmire: the chasm between why we became teachers and what schools have become. The discussions have already begun, and Thomas Newkirk's book will shed light and warmth where they're so sorely needed."
Author of Crunchtime
This is the first review I've ever written…. I'm moved to do it because I teach high school English, and this book spoke to me on a level that few other literacy guides have. I don't know Mr. Newkirk, although a colleague of mine had him for a teacher at UNH. I borrowed the book from our local college library and marked it up in pencil so extensively it was almost unreturnable. I then ordered three copies on Amazon—for me and my two closest teaching colleagues. Clearly, this book was forged from a lifetime of being in the trenches with student writers—on the good days and the not-so-good ones. It is painstakingly honest, and it doesn't kowtow to the "experts"—no matter what their agendas. If you want straight talk about how to teach writing and reading, at the high school or college level, with a wonderful mixture of common sense, practical guidance, laugh out loud humor, and overarching wisdom—do not miss this one.
SnowDog, March 7, 2010
"This is a wise, insightful, and thought-provoking book that offers important and useful perspectives on many of the central issues in literacy education. What I like best about Holding On to Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones is (1) it’s a BIG book, not in word count but in range, scope, and ambitiousness, and (2) it practices exactly what it preaches. In other words, the goals that Tom argues for--such as, suggesting that literacy educators should de-clutter our curricula by identifying and focusing on just a few key goals, that we should connect and balance reading and writing, that we should accept and encourage the role of pleasure and personal connection in learning--are supported by evidence and research but are also modeled by the way this book is written."
Author of Reading Student Writing