Reading Chapter One of Leaders of Learning

Michael L. Umphrey, Oct 15, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I don't like this style of criticism, because it's not credible, and so while I agree with Michael L. Umphrey characterization of Dufour and Marzano's Leaders of Learning I think it could have been done much more effectively. In a phrase, it's important to keep your exposition separate from your criticism. Critics should present the books case in the most compelling way possible, then respond with the counterpoints that really matter. When you read a critic write, "Chapter One begins with sky-is-falling prognostication..." you know they're not going to give the book a fair shake; the criticism has been made even before the text has been presented.

What's worth reading in this review is at the very end: "The chapter ends with the 'three big ideas that drive the PLC process.' (1) The fundamental purpose of schools is that all students learn 'at high levels,' this requires us to work in a collective, and the collectives need to be focused on data–'every policy, program, procedure, and practice needs to assessed' on the basis of such data. What is most notable about these ideas is that they deal entirely with process, and that everything that matters is left undefined and undiscussed. Everything that matters is outside the scope of the collective." See? If he had started with this, imagine how much more compelling the chapter summary could have been.

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