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Changing Schools: alternative ways to make a difference

Terry Wrigley, Pat Thomson & Bob Lingard (eds.) 2012 Abingdon: Routledge

In a review of this book, Michael Fielding wrote:

We need more books like this. Not only does it demonstrate the practicability of socially just, humanly fulfilling, intellectually demanding and creatively compelling alternatives to the dreariness and desolation of dominant models of education in many school systems across the world, it does so in ways that inspire and enable.

With contributors from Australia, Brazil, England, Germany, Norway and the USA, its 14 case studies of teachers, students and communities working successfully and vibrantly, often against considerable odds, provide a wonderful resource. Both theoretically rich and empirically enabling, this is a book that demonstrates ‘the difference education can make’ (p.212); a book that wrestles with injustice through naming it, confronting it and transcending it; a book that demonstrates, in one of Tim Brighouse’s favourite phrases ‘It does not have to be like this.’

Read this book, lend it to friends, tell colleagues about it, get your library to buy at least one copy. It is a practical book that illustrates not only the inspirational power of telling each other stories of how the world could be different now; it is also testimony to the well-known adage that ‘there is nothing as practical as a good theory.’ It is a book which, in the words of the editors, is offered as ‘evidence of small narratives of progressive school change, and as thinking towards a reimagined future, which would result in reworked schooling systems and different policy frames, as part of a new democratic social imaginary’ (p.12). Above all else, this is a book of hope, one that demonstrates ‘ways of working that hold promise for renewed educational possibilities’ (p.8).

[published in FORUM 54. 3. pp 485-8]