We asked Joshua P. Starr about books that have influenced his thinking on education. He mentioned recent titles by Linda Darling-Hammond and Diane Ravitch, as well as some he had read in graduate school or earlier in his career. The following is adapted from our conversation. We also wanted to know what he reads for fun. His recent picks are on the right.
“Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire. The author worked in Latin America and taught peasants to read. He writes about liberation through education and what education can mean for people.
“A Talk to Teachers” by James Baldwin. This isn’t a book; it’s an amazing speech about teaching black children. He says that the purpose of education is “to ask questions of the universe, and then learn to live with those questions.”
“Black Teachers on Teaching” by Michele Foster. The author talks to teachers who worked during and after segregation.
“Power/Knowledge” by Michel Foucault. I’m not really into post-structuralist philosophy, but this book made me think about how institutions reflect the norms we have created in our society and how we can change them.
“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins. A young-adult science-fiction novel about a post-apocalyptic world where children battle to the death in a televised event.
“Life” by Keith Richards. The autobiography of the founding member of the Rolling Stones.
Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen. A novel about a modern marriage.
— Michael Alison Chandler