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Throughout history, adventurers have chronicled their journeys though strange territories to the great benefit of mankind. Marco Polo's journals introduced the West to the Orient. Columbus' logs opened the western hemisphere to European exploration. Magellan, Cook, Lewis and Clark, Shackleton ... their journals were invaluable to those travelers who came afterwards.
In a similar manner, Dr. Engelmann's gripping journal of his forty-two year travel through ed land and his novel discoveries and fascinating inventions could serve us well. We may view his book as a travelogue with a wealth of "how to" information for those who may seek to follow him. He guides you successfully around the quicksand of Paiget-spawned mythology and the infamous truth-devouring bandersnatches who inhabit the dark underworlds of the treacherous territory we call our education system.
Or a second perspective of 'Teaching Needy Kids in Our Backward System' could be as an informal revelation for the layman of Dr. Engelmann's theories, now scientifically proven beyond any dispute, which should occupy a place in education similar to Newton's Principia Mathematica in physics or James Clark Maxwell's A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field dealing with his field equations.
Finally from a third point of view, Engelmann's 'Teaching Needy Kids' could rank with Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle' which exposed the horrors of the nation's meat packing industry and resulted in the establishment of the FDA and the closure of many food processors. It could even rank with Abraham Flexner's 'Report' in 1910 that produced a national outcry to revamp the country's medical standards causing nearly half the country's medical schools to close.
If you want to go to the South Pole, you must read Shackleton. If you want to journey in ed land, become familiar with cutting-edge technologies, or learn about the real child abuse that undergirds the ed industry, you must read Engelmann.
This book tells the truth about Direct Instruction. It is a highly effective research based approach which proves itself in study after study. If you are trying to shift the paradigm in education then you must read the inspirational story of people who were pioneers in education. In this age of accountability, is important to understand these fearless educators who stood for what was right and took full responsibility for student achievement. It is the work of these highly intelligent and amazing people that guides me in providing literacy instruction in my classroom today. Read this book and spread the word. I only wish I had learned about Direct Instruction earlier in my career.
Teaching English to Spanish-speakers in Colombia for nearly 10 years using a variation of Direct Instruction, I felt the exact same pain that Zig felt through this book, trying in vain for years to convince educators to adopt a proven methodology that teaches more information, more deeply, to both the ‘weak’ and ‘talented’ students in a fraction of the time of traditional methodologies. The story of this book has helped motivate me to carry my cross and keep pushing forward anyways.