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Advanced Educational Foundations for Teachers: The History, Philosophy, and Culture of Schooling

reviewed by Jim Vandergriff - 2005

coverTitle: Advanced Educational Foundations for Teachers: The History, Philosophy, and Culture of Schooling
Author(s): Donald K. Sharpes
Publisher: Routledge/Falmer, New York
ISBN: 0815338619, Pages: 522, Year: 2002
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I wish my responses to this book were not so negative. In fact, as I initially browsed the Table of Contents, my responses were very positive. I particularly liked that chapters 2 through 7 covered the history of education prior to the colonizing of the Americas . Most of the foundations texts I know seriously slight everything prior to Comenius. I also liked that chapters 9 through 12 focused on the history of minority education, something else that is generally slighted.

However, I hit my first stumbling block on page xi where a line reads, in part, “develops secret a brotherhood.” Such typographical errors trouble me because they suggest poor editing, and they distract from the content. However, we all miss one now and again, so I continued on. I noticed another one on page 21 – “from dating back to,” then on page 25 comes “protect their stored harvests by pillage from invading peoples.” (That last one took me awhile to decipher! Oh, it’s “from pillage by invading peoples”!) Two more such syntactic/grammatical errors occur on page 27, then four more on page 29. On page 30, more such infelicities occur. By now, I’m out of forgiveness. This is just sloppy work.

As a writing teacher for many, many years, I understand that it is quite difficult for writers to edit their own work because they tend to read what they meant rather than what they actually wrote. So, I’m inclined to forgive them. However, I’m much more sanguine in regard to publishers. That very human failing is why, for generations, publishers have hired people to do the editing (whom, interestingly, they’ve called “editors”). This quantity of errors – some of which seriously impede comprehension – should never have made it into print. I fault the publisher for that – and am quite surprised to find this quality of editing from a major publishing house.

The second stumbling block I hit involved the “Teaching Applications.” Generally, I like the idea of the author offering such applications, but I have a couple of problems with these. First, they vary widely in both quality and structure. For instance, the one on page 28 ends thus: “Now walk like an ancient Babylonian trader.” Even if I assume that “walk like” means “pretend that you are” (and I’m not sure it does!), I don’t think very highly of the educational value of this particular exercise. On the positive side, though, the application does relate directly to the preceding text material, unlike the application on page 31. Furthermore, I don’t see a common structure to the applications. The one on page 28, for example, seems to be a set of inter-related progressive learning activities, but the one on page 31 seems more like advice than an application.

The second problem I have with these “Teaching Applications” is that in general they seem inconsistent with the idea that this is an “advanced foundations” text. Some of the applications such as the one on pages 20-21 seem to be intended as things readers of this book can pass on to their own students. So is this a “foundations” book or a “methods” book? I don’t think it can be both.

Ultimately, I gave up on this book. As I mentioned above, my initial responses were positive, especially to the organization and contents of the chapters. While I continue to like those aspects of the book, it certainly is not one I’d use in my classes or recommend to others.

My advice to the writer/publisher: (1) edit more carefully; (2) either remove the Teaching Applications, or revise them for consistency and perhaps relegate them to the ends of the chapters; (3) ditto for the Case Studies; and (4) eliminate the tables (who, really, is the table called “Egyptian Contributions to Civilization and Education” targeting?). There is just way too much material interrupting the text, and there far too many typographical errors.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 107 Number 2, 2005, p. 322-324
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11379, Date Accessed: 12/6/2021 7:13:56 PM

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