We’re Doing it Wrong:
25 Ideas in Education That Just Don’t Work — And How to Fix Them
Coming from Skyhorse Publishing, fall, 2017
Cover coming soon
Master teacher David Slater’s book is a masterpiece! It is written in clear and concise prose that has the impact of a sledgehammer as the author dismantles one myth after another. And makes common sense solutions to seemingly intractable problems. “We’re Doing It Wrong” is a cogent and concise appraisal of the dismal state of American public education that should become mandatory reading for every concerned parent, administrator, school board member, elected public official, journalist, and self-appointed “expert” who profess to know the easy solution to the failures of our schools. His blunt, no-holds barred assessment of the growing crisis in public schools cannot be easily dismissed. Unfortunately, the fact that he is an experienced and successful teacher will probably disqualify him in the eyes of most educational reformers who have never taught a single minute in our beleaguered schools. This is the most important common sense approach to fixing our public schools that I have ever been privileged to read.
Richard O. Davies
Distinguished Professor of History, Emeritus
Academic Vice President of University of Nevada
Nevada Professor and Researcher of the Year
Dean of College of Public Service at Northern Arizona
Former President of University of Northern Colorado
Nevada Writer Hall of Fame inductee
David Slater’s book should be required reading for the new President and Congress. His is a straight-shooting voice with thoughtful and sobering reflections directly from the field. We need to heed the compelling insights and solutions laid out in his new book about our system of education.
VP of Education Programs, Committee for Economic Development
It is perhaps no surprise that in an age of ideologically polarized educational research and politics—matched with a widespread disrespect for teachers and public schools—a book of such straightforward sanity as this one needs to be published and read widely. It will miff people at the poles of opinion, but it is thoroughly supported by empirical research and experienced teachers’ craft knowledge.
James Paul Gee, Arizona State University
Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies
Member, National Academy of Education
From the moment I started reading David Slater’s We’re Doing It Wrong: 25 Ideas in Education That Just Don’t Work – And How to Fix Them, I thought, “WOW….this guy really gets it!” His experience as a teacher gives him the unique ability to connect with his readers in order to help them reflect on the challenges we face as educators and in education today. Not only that, but he also provides thought provoking solutions to those challenges. It would benefit every teacher, administrator, school board member, parent and legislator to read this book. While I didn’t necessarily agree with every solution, I found myself being able to reflect on my own teaching practices and beliefs in order to help me think about what I can do in my own classroom to help my students be successful. This is a book anyone involved in education must read!
2017 Iowa Teacher of the Year
With the perspective of a School Counselor, I am inspired by David’s empathetic and unapologetic acknowledgement that our choice of educational transformation must honor human interaction and encourage passion.
Joe D. Genasci, NCC NCSC
President and CEO GuidEd Fusion Inc.
If you want a book with fresh ideas on perennial issues in education that are commonly and deeply misunderstood, David Slater’s We’re Doing It Wrong is a relentless page-turner. Everything old is reinterpreted with new understandings and invitation to act differently: school choice, merit pay and accountability, scripted curriculum, high needs parents, sage or guide, tenure, and 19 other ideas are sliced and diced in new ways. This is a ‘makes you think’ treatment of major myths and education conundrums—read it, think and act differently.
Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto
Trust me, after you read Idea # 1, you will know that David Slater understands educators and the problems that we face every day. After working for twenty years in education and being force-fed professional development, I finally found a book that I can relate to, ascribe to, and wholeheartedly hand to a colleague without reservations. It is rare that you find a book that contains a “no nonsense” approach to the problems that are prevalent in our profession and solutions that offer a light at the end of the tunnel. A must read for educators in our turbulent educational climate!
La Grande Education Association President
Eastern Oregon Uniserv Council President
Educators and those who believe that educating America’s children is the path to a better future for everyone will find this book insightful, helpful, well-written, and thought-provoking. Every school board member in the country should read this book and start a community discussion about where education goes from here and how we move from a system that fails too many to one that truly serves the needs of children, educators, and the world.
Leigh Anne Jasheway, BA, MPH
Instructor at University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications and recipient of the Erma Bombeck Award for Humor Writing
Occam’s razor states that “…other things being equal, simpler explanations are generally better than more complex ones.” It is with this straight and to the point thinking and analysis, combining actual experience and observations with a common sense approach, David Michael Slater’s solutions address the core problems facing our educational systems. These are not political solutions full of sound bites and headlines, rather approaches that are basic and full of promise. I encourage not only educators and leaders to read this book, but also all policy makers and anyone else concerned or connected to our educational system. We need to remember that complex solutions are not always better. Simple is just as elegant—especially when they work.
Robert O. Davies, Ph.D.
President, Murray State University
David Slater’s We’re Doing It Wrong: 25 Ideas in Education That Just Don’t Work – And How to Fix Them revisits territory that David Berliner and Gene Glass and their associates explored in 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools.
Rather than drawing primarily on research studies, however, Slater uses his own extensive experience as a teacher to challenge ideas and practices he’s encountered during his 20 years in the classroom. The result is a personal, accessible, and at times maddening book about the bad thinking that has invaded far too many schools and how we might move beyond it to create more supportive learning environments for today’s students and their teachers. Although you might not agree with all of Slater’s solutions, you’ll find this book a provocative antidote to the educational “deform” movement and its well-heeled advocates.
Emeritus Professor, Graduate School of Education and Counseling, Lewis & Clark College
David Michael Slater puts the conventional wisdom on education under a microscope and finds much of it wanting. Although I occasionally disagreed with some of his conclusions, more often than not I was appreciative of his clear, direct analyses and their implications. David’s criticisms of age-based grading, our lack of attention to writing, overprotective teaching and parenting, and indefensible school start times especially resonated with me. I found insights on every page of this concise, engaging book.
Jonathan Plucker, PhD
Author of Intelligence 101 and Julian C. Stanley Professor of Talent Development at Johns Hopkins University
David Michael Slater’s We’re Doing It Wrong: 25 Ideas in Education That Just Don’t Work – And How to Fix Them is an articulate, accurate, meaningful book. It provides a unique contribution to current educational discussions in that it is spot on in identifying twenty-five present problems for schools, and it offers reasoned, practical solutions for improvement. With refreshing candor and insights Slater proposes ideas that are straightforward and workable. As a teacher he speaks frankly about current policies that are detrimental to both educators and students and as an insider he proposes ideas that are actually attainable. This book is a must read for teachers, administrators, and policy makers. Let’s hope that it will ignite a call for teacher voice and common sense in future educational reforms.
In David Michael Slater’s We’re Doing It Wrong: 25 Ideas in Education That Just Don’t Work – And How to Fix Them, many issues that teachers and students face today are addressed with possible solutions offered. Although no one child, teacher, or school faces all these problems at once, these issues are nevertheless important to consider. Some ideas will take total revamping of our current system and others have easier fixes. However, all require contemplation of anyone involved in public education, from parents to school boards to district and school administration to teachers and students. When given that wide spectrum of participants, addressing these issues really becomes the opportunity of every person who lives in our society. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people…The only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” I would add, it behooves us to do this with the best methods possible. Slater’s book is a step in the right direction towards improving education of the next generations.
2017 Nevada Teacher of the Year
As a former classroom teacher from a large urban school district, I found myself nodding in agreement with much of David’s analyses of what is keeping America’s public schools from reaching its full potential. The book is deeply honest, compelling and real and should be read by every education policymaker, leader, teacher and community member. David highlights many of our schools “fixable” problems and offers the makings of sound solutions. But first, we must dare to commit to actualizing the quality public education those on the frontline know is possible with adequate resources and support. Thank you David for this provocative call to action.
With a passionate voice, David Michael Slater identifies the challenges we face in education and addresses them one by one. His words encourage the visionary administrators and courageous teachers who meet these challenges head-on, and they provide a starting point for others to activate conversations that move education forward. David’s guidance is essential, but not exhaustive—our approach to the future of education depends on the creativity of those who care deeply about the future of our communities.
President, National Association of Secondary School Principals
National Principal of the Year, 2015
Education is ripe for a change. If we continue down the same path we’ve followed for decades, we’ll fail in preparing students for a constantly changing workforce and an unpredictable future. David Michael Slater provides an inspiring, useful blend of 30,000-foot flyovers and boots-on-the-ground practical ideas. Any stakeholder in education — teachers, parents and especially policy makers — will benefit from his vision and suggestions.
Teacher, Speaker, and author of Ditch That Textbook
David Slater does quite an impressive job of writing in a perspective that all teachers can relate to. The content of this book is on target to the plethora of concerns that all classroom teachers have. Slater shares 25 pertinent strategies that are critical to successful classrooms and effective teaching. His problem/solution approach is a progressive step toward a more adequate education for all. As an educator, I am grateful to see these vital concerns addressed by a classroom teacher. If we want to see changes in education, we have to speak up. Slater shows no hesitation in letting his voice be heard. This is a must read for any educator that is looking for change.
2017 Louisiana Teacher of the Year
As I read through We’re Doing It Wrong, I recognized many of my own observations amassed over nearly 50 years in the field. One of the most amazing ideas is in the opening words, “Everyone blames teachers.” How strange to read these words after growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s when teachers were revered for their talents and contributions. The world has clearly changed in the last few decades. Slater’s initial four ideas encapsulate many of the changes in our society that have interfered with the delivery of a quality education in our public and private schools. We must take note of the 25 issues that he highlights as we move forward in addressing the future of our schools and the educating of our children and youth in the 21st Century.
Paul A. Flexner
Instructor in Educational Psychology, Georgia State University
Co-editor of What We NOW Know About Jewish Education, winner of the National Jewish Book Award
As someone who has provided workshops in hundreds of schools or school districts and who has had the opportunity to listen to the frustrations, rewards, joys, and insights of countless teachers, I was immediately captivated by David Michael Slater’s We’re Doing It Wrong. It is rare to find such a passionate, articulate, honest, insightful book about our educational system. His description of different educational beliefs and practices that are counterproductive and that serve to undermine rather than enrich the process of teaching and learning, are thought-provoking. The fact David has served as a middle and high school teacher and been recognized for his work as an educator, adds even greater credibility to his understanding of what is transpiring in our schools. Each of the 25 “wrongs” and David’s “solutions” to these wrongs deserve to be carefully considered. Similar to myself, not everyone will agree with all of David’s solutions, but whether one agrees or disagrees is less important than his inviting us to engage in a dialogue about how best to address the problems he identifies. I hope that this book will be read by those just beginning their careers as teachers and administrators as well as those with years of experience. It deserves as far-reaching an audience as possible.
Robert Brooks, Ph.D.
Psychologist and faculty (part-time), Harvard Medical School
Co-author: Raising Resilient Children and Creating Sustainable, Resilient Classrooms
Drawing from years of experience in the classroom, David Michael Slater explores how bad ideas find their way into classrooms and negatively impact learning. He highlights the danger of allowing people with little, to no, training or experience in the field of education to make decisions that directly impact our schools. This is particularly timely in our current political climate. Slater shines a light on important issues like the role of students in the classroom, the presence of advertising in schools, the inequity of traditional homework, and the impact of class size. This book opens the door to important conversations about education and how we can improve learning for all students.
Teacher, International Trainer, Speaker & Bestselling Author