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A Reason to Teach

Creating Classrooms of Dignity and Hope

By James Beane

I loved A Reason to Teach. It challenged me to think about how to infuse democratic principals into the intellectually charged reading and writing workshops that thrive in our best schools. Every thoughtful educator needs this book.
—Stephanie Harvey, coauthor of The Comprehension Toolkit

This book shows why James Beane's work is so crucial to all of us. It needs to be read by anyone who is both deeply concerned with countering the challenges coming from conservative movements in education and committed to building an education that is worthy of its name.
—Michael W. Apple, coauthor...

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I loved A Reason to Teach. It challenged me to think about how to infuse democratic principals into the intellectually charged reading and writing workshops that thrive in our best schools. Every thoughtful educator needs this book.
—Stephanie Harvey, coauthor of The Comprehension Toolkit

This book shows why James Beane's work is so crucial to all of us. It needs to be read by anyone who is both deeply concerned with countering the challenges coming from conservative movements in education and committed to building an education that is worthy of its name.
—Michael W. Apple, coauthor of Democratic Schools

Over his long career, James Beane has worked with teachers at all levels and been a voice for progressive reform in American education. In A Reason to Teach, he brings together many of the best ideas about teaching, learning, curriculum, collaboration, and community. Not only does Beane show us how to make deep learning happen in the classroom, he also challenges us to enact our nation's noblest ideals in our work with young people.

A Reason to Teach is written for teachers who want to bring democratic teaching to their classrooms and schools. The book not only explains why teachers should choose this point of view, but tells how, offering a wide range of practical resources for classrooms and schools at all levels, including tools for:

  • involving students in planning and assessing their work
  • embedding social issues in classroom content
  • arranging projects and collaborative activities
  • organizing integrative curriculum units
  • building classroom communities.
All of these ideas are illustrated with vibrant examples from real classrooms around the country, including an extended case study of how one teacher and his students in a large city organized their curriculum around the goal of getting a new school for their neighborhood. Throughout A Reason to Teach, Beane offers specific guidance on instructional strategies that emphasize students' choice, participation, and critical inquiry. The book offers suggestions on how to get started in the classroom, how to think in new ways about what we already do, and how to reach out to colleagues for support.

Eminently practical and thoroughly principled, A Reason to Teach shows the how, the why, and the power of the democratic way. In a time when national educational policy is drifting away from its founding principles, James Beane takes us back to the real basics, building upon the long history of progressive education with insights, encouragement, and hope for renewing our commitment to it in the classroom and the nation.

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Contents

Introduction
  1. Choosing the Democratic Way
  2. Teaching for Democracy's Sake
  3. Living the Democratic Way
  4. Being a Democratic Teacher
  5. Sustaining the Democratic Way
  6. Reclaiming the Democratic Way
Appendix: Reflecting on the Democratic Way of Teaching
References
Index

Samples