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Book Review: Reimagining Education: Essays on Reviving the Soul of Learning, edited by Dennis Patrick Slattery and Jennifer Leigh Selig

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Education is one of the most important things in the life of every single person on this planet. After all, man is a mine rich in gems of inestimable value; education alone can cause it to reveal its treasures. However, the definition of education is very broad; it varies from culture to culture, and even within each culture, it varies according to background and school of thought. It also varies according to the needs of the person being educated; some people like to learn by reading, others by seeing, other by doing, etc.

In an attempt to control just about everything around us, the definition of education in places like North America has drastically been reduced. Education has become more about efficiency and results, through such tools as standardised and impersonal tests, rather than nurturing of individual talents.

The fundamental argument at the heart of Reimagining Education is that we need to get back at the essence of what teaching is about: polishing the inner gems that every individual has. What happened to the nobility of the teaching profession? How can we, as a society and, for those of us who are teachers, bring it back? How can we make education about mining and polishing inherent gems within each human being, rather than making it about filling human beings with knowledge?

Reimagining Education is a collection of 18 essays that each share reflections on the aforementioned questions. The diversity of the book’s contributors add depth to the topic, as we are given insight into the question of the nobility of teaching by teachers of different ages (the youngest are in the forties and the oldest, in their eighties), from different disciplines (including but not limited to philosophy, English, history, science and, yes, mythological studies), to different educational venues (public and private schools, workshops, institutes and home schools), different age groups (from elementary school all the way to adult education), and different positions within the educational field (teachers, principals, school presidents and teacher educators amongst others).

One of the best things about this book is the fact that, beneath the global theme of reimagining education that brought them together, are many differences of opinions. And so, reading this book becomes an educational process in itself, as the reader must strive to develop his or her own understand of what is needed to bring the nobility of the profession back into teaching.

Reimagining Education is not only for teachers; parents, those who have children in their extended family and those interested in their own education should pick up this book and reflect on their participation in the process. After all, a teacher is there to accompany the student in his or her learning; even the best of teachers can only do so much if the student doesn’t participate wholeheartedly. Reading these essays will definitely affect the way you choose to participate in your education. Who knows; maybe it will even make you a far better student that you ever imagined you could be.

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