Book Review

Dear Josie

By Joseph Featherstone, Liza Featherstone and Caitlin Featherstone

Reviewed by Sherion Hudgins Jackson
Assistant Professor of
Educational Administration,
Texas A&M University-Commerce

In Dear Josie:Witnessing the Hopes and Failures of Democratic Education, Joseph, Liza and Caitlin Featherstone, all of them educators and journalists, have compiled some of Joseph Featherstone’s best essays over the years, including his famous letter to the new teacher, Josie.

Featherstone’s writing is woven with qualitative details of the education system in its best moments and its worst. These authors have pulled together a combination of essays that reflect the thought-provoking questions that teachers, administrators and the school system must wrestle with as children are educated for their future in America.

One section of Dear Josie, which deals with school and society, considers the impact of desegregation on children and learning. Though teachers often overlook the political aspect of teaching, through Featherstone’s essays the authors suggest this is a serious oversight. They contend children’s lives require freedom to make educated decisions and schools should be considered as “apprenticeships to freedom.” Another section, titled “Teachers and Classrooms,” looks at the decision-making process of teachers in their own classrooms.

The Featherstone team (father and daughters) provides plenty of examples that could serve as the basis of in-depth discussions. The essays challenge teachers and administrators alike to develop foundational philosophies that support the need to leave no child behind and the power of education.

(Dear Josie: Witnessing the Hopes and Failures of Democratic Education by Joseph Featherstone, Liza Featherstone and Caitlin Featherstone, Teachers College Press, New York, N.Y., 2003, 185 pp. with index, $19.95 softcover)