The book discusses the failed reform initiatives of the 20th century’s “one size fits all” model for American education. A recommendation is made to adopt a systemic change in how, why, and what we teach, which takes the form of a new whole-child framework. This new educational narrative fosters a more learner-centered, constructivist, interdisciplinary, and meaningful approach to learning. Positive education offers educators new strategies to develop character strengths and promote well-being in their students.
James Trifone holds a PhD in education from the University of Lancaster, UK. He is the academic director of the Master of Arts in Learning and Thinking [MALT] degree program, offered at The Graduate Institute in Bethany, Connecticut. This program consists of an innovative and learner-centered approach for preK–12 educators who strive to develop and integrate a holistic twenty-first-century whole-child approach into their classroom teaching.
Part I: Whether to Reform or Transform That Is The Question
Chapter 1: America Needs To Transform Rather Than Reform Education
Chapter 2: Transformation Requires a Systemic Change
Chapter 3: Transforming Education: The Whole-Child Paradigm
Part II: The District-based Influences That Affect Learning & Thinking
Chapter 4: Creating a New Story of Learning & Thinking
Part III: The Educator-Based Influences That Affect Learning, Thinking & Well-Being
Chapter 5: What Are the Teaching Practices of the Teacher –Centered and Learner-Centered Approaches to Teaching?
Chapter 6: Towards a Constructivist Approach to Learning
Chapter 7: What Thinking Skills Foster Meaningful Learning
Chapter 8: The Interdisciplinary Curriculum
Chapter 9: Why Is the Whole-Child Educator Interested in Positive Psychology?
Part IV: Personal Demonstrations Of Learning & Thinking
Chapter 10: The Whole-Child Educator Fosters a Growth Mindset
Part V: Interpersonal Demonstrations of Learning & Thinking
Chapter 11: How Do Students Demonstrate Competency in Interpersonal Skills?
Trifone advocates for transforming, not reforming, schooling in the US. He characterizes US classrooms as suffering from too much lecture-based teaching; the squelching of creativity, innovative thinking, and nonconformity; an over-reliance on standards-based assessment of learning and teaching; and the failure to recognize that students have unique learning skills and needs. He calls for adopting a "whole-child" approach, which would require a systemic change in educational organizations, creating high achievement expectations for all students, aligning educational standards, and fostering dialogue and decision-making among all members of the learning community…. Trifone notes that transitioning from the teacher-centered 20th century to the learner-centered 21st century educational approach will require professional development and the support of all communities for funding and social change. Recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty; professionals.
Expertly researched, the book eloquently challenges the reader's conceptions of American education. A master educator, Jim's passion for teaching and learning engages his readers as they consider his strong case for the transformation of American education from a dated and outmoded factory model, to a whole-child methodology.
This book addresses the Whole Child by detailing the need to also take into consideration the student’s social and emotional intelligences. The manuscript is very concise with explicit language relatable to the novice and veteran educator as well as the non-educator. It is appropriate for early childhood educators and beyond. Administrators should use it as a starting point to address the overall transformation needed in each of their schools.
Trifone’s work puts to paper not what SHOULD happen, but what HAS to happen if education is going to change for the better. Districts may say they focus on the whole-child and appreciate emotional and social learning, but at the end of the day standardized measures still win out. Education does not have an end goal. It’s a process. We should pay attention to the “how” of student learning, not simply the “what”.
James Trifone clearly presents what most educators in the trenches, so to speak, would agree should be the future of education in this country. He is clear on what needs to be done moving forward. Most administrators encourage their teachers top teach 21st century but don’t give them the tools to do so. This is the text Administrators should be exploring with their staff as a guidebook to teaching 21st century skills.
This is the book I have been waiting for someone to write and I am sure many educators would agree. As a teacher who has been in this profession for 27 years and witnessed first-hand the damage and turmoil that has ensued over the two and a half decades, the book validated so many of my beliefs and hopes for change. I am always so grateful that we have people like Jim who continue to speak up and fight for what is best for our children.