I’m reading a “professional book” that I am really interested in and plan on reviewing. The name of it is The Power of Their Ideas, by Deborah Meier. I just wanted to take a minute to write a little about this text because I think it is very important, and it relates to a lot of what we have been talking about this semester.
Meier opens the book by writing, “I knew that human beings are by nature generators of ideas, what I didn’t understand was how it was that some children recognized the power of their ideas while others became alienated from their own genius” (3). She then goes on to suggest that the nature of poverty and racism in schools is real, but will argue that schools could “loosen rather than tighten them” (3).
What Meier is suggesting, I would argue, is that children can be inventors of their own theories, they can be critics of many ideas and could analyze evidences. Overall, she writes that they can be “[…] makes of their own personal marks on this most complex world” (4). In the early chapters of this book, I haven’t read too far into it, this is the argument that she is making, and she is just starting to get into the deeper complexities that are evident.
One of the other main questions she asks is “[…] how the children at the bottom of American’s social ladder could use their schools to develop rather than stunt their intellectual potential, how to provide at public expense for the least advantaged what the most advantaged bought privately for their own children” (19).
A potential response to this question, Meier argues, is that learning is all about ideas. We need to, in classroom life, include more participation by children in the decisions than traditional schools allow. She writes “We have to become better observers of our own practice, better collectors of information, documenters of practice as well as users of expertise. We thus have more to bring to the collective table” (26).
One of the most interesting quotes for me was when she writes, “A good school for anyone is a little like kindergarten and a little like a good post-graduate program–the two ends of the educational spectrum, at which we understand that we cannot treat any two human beings identically, but must take into account their special interests and styles even as we hold all to high and rigorous standards” (48).
The ideas that Meier presents are very intriguing to me; they are a lot like what we have discussed this semester. However, I would argue that she hasn’t really given me any substantial suggestions as to how to remedy a lot of what she writes. Sure, she tells me what’s wrong, but she hasn’t yet given me any concrete ideas on how to improve. Granted, as the text progresses, she presents more and more ideas to contradict my argument; therefore, I have to read-on before I can make a claim like that.
This is a book filled with some very interesting ideas and statements, and I look forward to finishing it. I would recommend it already. Especially to those who are curious about racism and socioeconomic status in high schools. More to come…