Customized Schooling: Beyond Whole-School Reform
The back-cover blurb for this book characterizes it as “ambitious”—and the word couldn’t be more fitting. Within its ten chapters, nineteen of education’s big thinkers (yes, including Checker Finn and former Fordham VP Eric Osberg) challenge our basic conceptions of education—starting with the foundational unit of educational delivery (it’s not the school, but the student). After identifying and explaining this education customization (or “unbundling”), the book presents the challenges faced around service delivery, quality control, and policy implications. The authors major foci are parent choice (at the course-level, not simply the school-level), differentiated instruction (both the content and the form), harnessing technologies, and data collection. Throughout, the authors infuse organizational and district case studies to drive home their points—a necessary addition as the book itself asks the reader to reconceptualize ingrained notions of schooling. Customized Schooling is sure to ruffle feathers—not only does it force readers to think outside the education-provision box, it asks them to tear apart the sides and throw them in a shredder. But the conversation it will incite is long overdue.
Frederick M. Hess and Bruno V. Manno, eds., Customized Schooling: Beyond Whole-School Reform (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2011).
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