Book Review

Giving Wings to Children’s Dreams

Making Our Schools Worthy of Our Children

by Paul Houston, Corwin, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2010, 162 pp., $25.95 softcover

I had the good fortune of working for Paul Houston in my first job as a principal, which is like having John Wooden as your first basketball coach. He was an inspiration as an education leader and as a person, and now his latest book gives everyone a chance to capture the essence of what I learned from him and more.

Giving Wings

Houston went on to become AASA executive director, increasing his status as an articulate advocate for education. In Giving Wings to Children’s Dreams: Making Our Schools Worthy of Our Children, he says education “isn’t something you ‘invoke’ and pour into children. It is something you ‘evoke’ and draw out of them.” He is not afraid to challenge federal policy, calling it “misdirected or mistaken,” and he doesn’t let educators off the hook, either.

School district leaders, he argues, can’t be adherents of “command and control” but instead should be promoting “collaboration and communication.” That requires education leaders who can “work both inside and outside the school to bring all the players together.”

Houston strongly believes that education must be more about creating than acquiring knowledge if students are going to become the lifelong learners they must be to meet ever-changing societal and workplace demands.

In page after page of Giving Wings to Children’s Dreams, any public educator will recognize that this is written by someone who understands and articulates our frustrations, but more importantly our dreams of “making our schools worthy of our children.”

Reviewed by Bob Schultz, consultant, Association of California School Administrators, Davis, Calif.