This is a short book review; What Schools Are For, By John I. Goodlad. Bloomington, Ind.: PDK Publications, $ 5.50.
"This is not a how-to-do-it book. Many good ones are available. It is a book designed to promote dialogue about what our schools are for and to encourage greater attention to and concern for what goes in schools."
That statement is not, as you might well expect, in the preface or introduction or even in Chapter 1, but is on Page 92 of the 124-page book.
I'm a little puzzled by this book, as I'm sure John Goodlad knows that the public is already very concerned about what does (and does not) go in schools in the United States.He didn't need to write a book to encourage our attention -- he's got it.
What we need to know is what to do with our dialogue; just who it is we should be taking to. Will it do us any good, for example, to bypass our local school boards and talk directly to legislators? Or should we talk to classroom teachers? Or should we just keep talking to one another?
And what are our priorities? That is, each of us knows our personal priorities of what schools are (or should be) for, but we'd like to know if there are some that are national in scope or so compelling that we should set aside our own priorities to deal with them first.
As I was working on this book review no less than three persons bore out my contention that the public is already concerned and already talking about US public and private schools. One phone call from a concerned mother: "Did I know how bad the schools had gotten?" A dean at a large graduate school: "Did I realize that public high school students were boycotting most of their classes?" From a taxpayer: "Don't you realize that the best public schools are worse than useless?"
In case I am wrong, and you haven't been thinking about the purpose and present condition of our schools, then by all means read this slim volume. The rest of us must wait for Dr. Goodlad's next book due out soon.