3 out of 4 stars
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Liberating Teaching and Learning: Turn it Upside Down and Watch African Americans (All Learners) SOAR by Dr. Bettye Chitman Haysbert is a nonfiction book aimed at assisting teachers and learners in restructuring the classroom to ensure the success of all.
Liberating Teaching and Learning: Turn it Upside Down and Watch African Americans (All Learners) SOAR focuses on the need for educational reform. Readers receive a brief history of education, indicating that current classrooms and educational systems benefit European American learners rather than African American and Latin American learners. Research suggests a large number of African American students find themselves placed in special education classrooms due to a lack of understanding of learning style and cultural differences.
In order to reform the educational system to allow engaging and meaningful learning experiences for all learners, two strategies are introduced, explained, and explored. Specifically, Dr. Chitman Haysbert calls for a revolution in classroom restructuring through the utilization of “liberating teaching and learning,” or LTL, and “cooperative learning,” or CL. Through this dual strategy, the author claims that curriculum and instruction will allow African American learners to thrive in the classroom. Besides, the author argues that when African American learners succeed in the classroom, all learners will thrive, but that this does not work the other way around.
The author is passionate about the need for educational reform and raising awareness of the struggles that African American learners (in particular) face while attempting to assimilate into the current educational system. It was interesting to learn that many of these struggles are a result of the lack of cultural awareness on the part of educators and the educational system. Dr. Chitman Haysbert does a phenomenal job of explaining cultural literacy, empowering learners, culturally supportive teaching, and the benefits of cooperative learning.
It is clear that the author has conducted thorough research in the field of education and that she has a firm grasp on the topics presented in this book. Aside from detailed explanations of the LTL and CL strategies throughout the book, the author provides readers with additional resources. These other resources include the use of visuals, tables, proverbs, fables, helpful websites, further reading, and interviews with both learners and teachers. Also included within the book is information about a method of reading instruction that utilizes the LTL strategy, created by the author. The author describes this reading strategy as revolutionary.
What I appreciated the most about this book was the opportunity to explore education through the eyes of an African American learner. This book was eye-opening for me and allowed me to reflect on my educational experiences. It was disheartening to discover the struggles African American learners and other minority learners face in a system that should be fair for all. I now have a better understanding of the reality of the educational system and how to correct this faulty system.
To be critical, while the author states that this book is for everyone to read, there were portions of the book addressed to African American learners, rather than all readers. I think the author intended to address all learners rather than a specific group because, in effect, she wishes for these strategies to apply to all teachers and learners. I found this aspect of the book a bit contradictory.
I am confident that educators will be interested in reading this book. Unlike most educational references, the author is clear that this book is intended for both teachers and learners alike. I found this to be a unique aspect of Liberating Teaching and Learning. The strategies explained in this book apply to both teachers and learners. There are specific sections of the book dedicated to learners and teachers, providing each with the knowledge set to utilize LTL and cooperative learning in the classroom. Furthermore, according to the author, for LTL to be effective, teachers and learners must work together.
For these reasons, I would recommend this book to educators as well as students who are looking to work together to ensure engaging, student-centered learning for all. I would strongly recommend this book to those pursuing a degree in education, as they will benefit from the information explored in this book. Educators who have taught for several years would also benefit from reading this book because they may not be fully aware of the inherent disadvantage African Americans and Latin Americans have in the current educational system.
Liberating Teaching and Learning requires further editing. I noted multiple errors. The majority of these errors were minor and related to punctuation, although I did report additional errors related to spelling mistakes and a table that was illegible. The mistakes typically were not a distraction from my reading.
Liberating Teaching and Learning: Turn it Upside Down and Watch African Americans (All Learners) SOAR was an educational, informational, and illuminating book. I appreciate the accomplished background of Dr. Bettye Chitman Haysbert. She is a wonderful advocate for African American learners; she fully embraces this controversial subject matter, and her desire to allow equal access to education for all learners is admirable. My overall rating of this book is 3 out of 4 stars.
Liberating Teaching and Learning
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