Culture & Criticism Since 2003
From the Editor: The Electric Review recommends that instructors in the following disciplines investigate these titles as possible frontline teaching texts, notable for their clarity, presentation and accessibility to the student reader. These selections mark references that are clearly defined and expertly edited, comprising the most up-to-date voices in their respective fields. In addition to our snapshot-listing, we are providing links directly back to the appropriate publisher’s page: Please follow the publisher’s specific link-cues for further information regarding these laudable classroom resources.
In this important resource, Barbara Ann Nilsen looks at children in terms of individuality and not as mere ‘case studies’ in an attempt to show students contemplating a career in childhood education that teachers must take nothing for granted when assessing a toddler.
Nilsen has formatted her treatise to cover both aspects of emotional and intellectual development for the child-learner. For example, in chapter 1, the author examines separation anxiety and the adjustment of child-to-school; and later, in chapter 5, she examines the best methods to use in order to accurately assess the level of emotional development on the part of the child.
In essence, the whole point behind this text is to help the prospective teacher to see that each child is utterly unique (requiring the instructor to assess them as individuals and not as ‘pieces of the whole’).
Week by Week proves Nilsen to be an accomplished academic writer whose work resonates with order and depth. In fact, organization is one of this text’s brightest points. Specifically, the author sets a strong foundation for how to properly document a child’s core development (such as creating weekly plans of action and honing behavioral observation techniques) before looking at ways to record the growth-progression of the child (anecdotal recordings; logs; checklists; standardized measurements in relation to cognitive development) – thus creating this linear and logical roadmap that moves through multiple levels of the subject matter in a thorough yet fast- paced manner.
Going further, what’s best about Nilsen’s prose style is that it is economical without sacrificing content. In my professional capacity as a book reviewer, I have found that many times academic writers will over-state their subjects, stuffing chapters with facts until they swell well beyond the student’s scope of comprehension. Or, academic writers will go to the other extreme: Trying to write so sparsely that they leave gaping holes in chapters, effectively destroying a student’s ability to develop an intimate understanding with the author or the data.
However, here, Nilsen reaches a happy medium – giving her readers the information they need without overwhelming them with too many words or too many long-winded passages – her mission to streamline the idea of the ‘teaching process’ into digestible portions.
Week by Week is recommended for use in Child Education programs as either a supporting or primary textbook based on its primary strengths – organization and the author’s ability to write effectively for the student-audience.
Once new parents confirm that the child they’ve just had is healthy, focus turns to issues of development as they seek to find a path through which to teach their child fundamental life-skills. However, the learning process only begins at home, and in today’s fast-paced world of working parents, the task of ushering a tot through these formative years often falls to dedicated child-care providers.
Here, authors Watson and Swim have updated their reference for an all-new 6th edition – this child-centered approach designed to help infants and toddlers to quickly become comfortable with the life-long process of learning.
As the reader moves through this text, it becomes readily apparent that teaching a young child requires preparation, empathy and skill. Accordingly, a definite and ordered approach must be undertaken that allows the toddler to confront challenges and assimilate bits of information at a pace that promotes deep retention. Basically, the caregiver must attain a complete understanding of the way the child-brain functions before they can ever hope to succeed as ‘teachers.’
In Infants and Toddlers, the authors have gone to great pains to analyze this subject from its foundational perimeters, moving from the basic tenants of the discipline to specific elements of child education. Topics of coverage include infant and toddler developmental characteristics and proper caregiver preparation (with in depth overview of the history and theories that create the core of early child education); how to create a positive learning environment relevant to the young mind in its first 36 months of life; and the path caregivers should take to match teaching strategies with age-level/development level (as a means to give the child only the information they are ready to absorb).
Infants and Toddlers is an important text for many reasons – the writing is superlative, while the breadth and reach of its material transcends the often narrow constraints that plague books about teaching. Here, Watson and Swim are able to show that those providing child-care and instruction to infants and toddlers must develop a kind of partnership with the young learner so as to influence positive intellectual development.
This 6th edition is noteworthy for the multitude of new information it imparts, including exploration into aspects of brain development (as well as dissection of Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory). In addition, in depth case studies augment the chapters, providing a platform from which the student-reader can quickly apply the core principles they have just learned to a practical setting.
Recommended as a primary course text in all childhood education classes dedicated to developing effective curriculums for infant and toddler. Further recommended to all college-level libraries as a general reference manual with long-term research value.
FOUNDATIONS OF EDUCATION. 10th Edition. Allan Ornstein. Daniel Levine. Houghton Mifflin. This text, now in its 10th installment, adds to an impressive addition to the canon of education-based literature. Here, Ornstein (St. John’s University) and Levine (University of Nebraska) have built the consummate resource delineating the mission of the teacher in the classroom, with thorough discussion of all perspectives of the process (social, legal, historical and philosophical). What is best about this resource is found in the fact that the authors have glazed these chapters with a contemporary sheen, insuring that prospective teachers are confronted with real issues that pertain to today’s classroom, the book’s ultimate goal to insure that its readers use the knowledge they acquire to extend the boundaries of education in our society.
CULTURAL COMPETENCE. A Primer For Educators. Jerry V. Diller. Jean Moule. Thomson/Wadsworth. This slim volume will prove invaluable to students in the midst of completing their credential programs in education. Diller (a master educator who has served on the faculty of U.C. Berkeley and The Wright Institute) and Moule (Oregon State University) have come up with a text that presents the things an instructor is likely to find in school rooms across America. As we move into the 21st century, the operative word is diversity; to this end, Cultural is a first-rate manual dedicated to helping young instructors reach out to students of varied cultural backgrounds. What’s best about this text is that it focuses the student-teacher on the idea that a typical classroom is filled with 30 kids from 30 different environments – some rich, some poor, some black, some white, some Latino, some Asian. Accordingly, the teacher has to be able to create a program that can reach each of them in a compassionate, empathetic and meaningful way. Although they touch on myriad concepts in this treatise, the underlying idea here is about molding teachers who understand that the key to the process is in (1) awareness of the cultural differences between students; and (2) in the acceptance of those differences as a first step in building trust between instructor and pupil. Readers of this text will embark on a rich journey that uses educational theory in conjunction with real-life vignettes (and practice exercises) to create a classroom tool with true long-range reference value.
Recommended to instructors in programs that prepare the student-teacher for the actual battle-lines of the classroom. Further recommended to all college-level libraries as a general reference text with both educational and sociological value. One of the top reference books of the year so far in the realm of teacher-education.
THE SCHOOL COUNSELOR AS CONSULTANT. An Integrated Model For School-Based Consultation. Richard D. Parsons. Wallace J. Kahn. Thomson/Brooks-Cole. This text serves nicely as a companion text To Cultural Competence in that it provides a model for the school counselor, offering direction on how a person in this role can deal with the various demands of the position. Often, a student’s problems in school are directly tied to cultural differences and to the inability to assimilate into a typical educational environment. Here, Parsons and Kahn offer new insight, encouraging the counselor to change their personal approach to confronting student-problems in an attempt to break down old walls of resistance.
Recommended to all school counselors at both the high school and college level. Further recommended to all college-level libraries as a general reference text.
SO YOU WANT TO BE A TEACHER. Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century. Janice Koch. Houghton Mifflin. In this text, Koch (Hofstra University) shifts gears slightly, putting the onus on the student to examine his personal role in the process of education. In essence, So You Want To Be A Teacher is meant to compel the student to examine the reasons behind why they want to teach, forcing them to examine the elements of what makes a good teacher. Once they reach this point, students should be able to assess whether they actually possess the skills-set to excel in the classroom. Noted for its direct tone and for the breadth of information it conveys; and noted for the way Koch poses tough questions and commands honest answers, imploring students to confront the expectations of a demanding profession.
PSYCHOLOGY APPLIED TO TEACHING. Twelfth Edition. Jack Snowman. Rick McCown. Robert Biehler. Houghton Mifflin. In this text, prospective teachers are offered a deep glimpse into educational psychology. Here, the authors synthesize a bevy of complex psychological theories into a tight narrative to show how these principles meld with the everyday duties of teacher in classroom. This volume is noteworthy because it causes the student-teacher to trace the correlation between the mechanics of the mind and the ways that we learn, showing the fledgling teacher that they must approach the classroom in a comprehensive manner that considers all aspects of the student-experience. Furthermore, in terms of style and depth, Psychology Applied is unrivaled — its authors demonstrating the true ability to infuse complicated theories with modern-day relevance.