Book Review

In Praise of Education

Reviewed by William J. Leary,
Associate Professor and Acting Chair
of Educational Leadership, University
of Mississippi, Oxford, Miss.



The contention that education and teaching are moral endeavors is a frightening one for many people. The word "moral," however, as used by John I. Goodlad in his book In Praise of Education, refers to how education promotes in people the ability to make wise choices and decisions that benefit not only the individual, but the community as well.

Goodlad cites the British philosopher John White, who believes there are moral positions that should be acceptable to everyone in a democratic society, such as fairness, caring, justice, equality and community.

Goodlad believes the public purpose of education ought to include the teaching of those moral dispositions in order that education can nurture and sustain the concept of democracy and that democracy, in turn, will nurture education.

Goodlad also sees education as an inalienable right and considers it immoral to deny anyone self-development by a lack of access to education. But he also understands that personal development takes place within a social context and that the entire community must participate in the education process.

Goodlad has been a thoughtful advocate for public education for decades. In this his most reflective, almost spiritual, book, he takes another step forward in his leadership role in American education.

Goodlad points out to "reformers" that each school has its own individual culture. Furthermore, simplistic models of change often fail to recognize the politics of each school’s everyday existence. Vouchers, charters, school choice and privatization of public schools are critics’ slogans rather than solutions.

(In Praise of Education, by John I. Goodlad, Teachers College Press, 1997, 208 pp. with index, AASA member price $16.50 softcover. Available from AASA Distribution Center, P.O. Box 411, Annapolis Jct., Md. 20701-0411. Toll-free 888-782-2272 or 301-617-7802. Stock #5-002-SA)