With the holidays soon upon us, I thought it appropriate to provide a list of what are arguably the most historically influential books in education, as we ponder gifts for colleagues, friends and loved ones who are educators.

This list came from a crowd-source appeal via Twitter and an email to colleagues and friends. Each book on the list received at least 5 votes from the 50 or so folks who responded; good enough for me. Yes, I know – it’s subjective. Yes, I know – it’s almost all men. Yes, I know – you are appalled at the inclusion of x and the failure to include y. Yes, it probably reflects educators ‘of a certain age’.

But, hey – it’s my blog, and that’s why there is a REPLY box: make your case! But recall the criterion: influential, not merely “I liked it”.

In case you are interested, my choices were: Plato, Rousseau, Dewey, Polya, and Tyler. It’s truly shocking to me how few math teachers have read Polya, IMHO; it’s sad how few people read Dewey anymore (admittedly not easy reading) since his vision framed the mission for most modern educators. And Tyler is my guru – the author of ‘backward design’ thinking, 70 years ago. I would not have included Lortie, Callahan, or Silberman even though I like all 3 books, because they are more of about history/sociology than a theoretical or practical guide. I wanted Alvin Toffler for Future Shock – no one else selected him, alas.

I can honestly say I had read all of them except one: I was initially unfamiliar with the Rosenblatt, a surprisingly modern view of teaching English from many decades ago, and have now read it – good stuff.

Note that there are no books on the list from 1990 – present.  Too early to make the call, in my humble opinion. The books that follow are thus ‘classics’, deserving of your time and thought. All of them, even the ones with which you might have issues, provide great food for thought. So, bon appetit!

Adler, Mortimer Paideia Proposal
Apple, Michael Ideology and Curriculum
Bloom, Benjamin Taxonomy of Educational Objectives Vol 1
Boyer, Ernest High School
Bruner, Jerome The Process of Education
Callahan, Raymond The Cult of Efficiency
Dewey, John The Child and the Curriculum
Dewey, John Democracy & Education
Freire, Paulo Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Gardner, Howard Frames of Mind
Goodlad, John A Place Called School
Hirsch, E. D. Cultural Literacy
Kozol, Jonathon Death At An Early Age
Kuhn, Thomas The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
Lortie, Dan School Teacher
Montessori, Maria The Montessori Method
Neill, A. S. Summerhill
Piaget, Jean The Language & Thought of the Child
Plato Meno
Plato Allegory of the Cave from The Republic
Polya, Georg How To Solve It
Postman, N & Weingartner, C Teaching As A Subversive Activity
Rosenblatt, Louise The Poem, the Text, the Reader
Rousseau, Jean Jacques Emile
Silberman, Charles Crisis in the Classroom
Simon, S; Howe, L; Kirschenbaum, H Values Clarification
Sizer, Ted Horace’s Compromise
Taba, Hilda Curriculum: Theory and Practice
Tyler, Ralph The Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction
Vygotsky, Lev Thought and Language
Whitehead, A. N. The Aims of Education & Other Essays