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What Works May Hurt—Side Effects in Education

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Yong Zhao shines a light on the long-ignored phenomenon of side effects of education policies and practices, bringing a fresh and perhaps surprising perspective to evidence-based practices and policies. Identifying the adverse effects of some of the “best” educational interventions with examples from classrooms to boardrooms, the author investigates causes and offers clear Yong Zhao shines a light on the long-ignored phenomenon of side effects of education policies and practices, bringing a fresh and perhaps surprising perspective to evidence-based practices and policies. Identifying the adverse effects of some of the “best” educational interventions with examples from classrooms to boardrooms, the author investigates causes and offers clear recommendations.“A highly readable and important book about the side effects of education reforms. Every educator and researcher should take its lessons to heart.” —Diane Ravitch, New York University“A stunning analysis of the problems encountered in our efforts to improve education. If Yong Zhao has not delivered the death blow to naive empiricism, he has at least severely wounded it.” —Gene V. Glass, San José State University“This book is a brilliantly written analysis of well-known educational change efforts followed by a concrete call for action that no policymaker, researcher, teacher, or education reform advocate should leave unread.” —Pasi Sahlberg, University of New South Wales, Sydney“Nothing less than the future of the republic is dealt with in this wonderful and crucial book about the field of educational research and policy.” —David C. Berliner, Arizona State University


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Yong Zhao shines a light on the long-ignored phenomenon of side effects of education policies and practices, bringing a fresh and perhaps surprising perspective to evidence-based practices and policies. Identifying the adverse effects of some of the “best” educational interventions with examples from classrooms to boardrooms, the author investigates causes and offers clear Yong Zhao shines a light on the long-ignored phenomenon of side effects of education policies and practices, bringing a fresh and perhaps surprising perspective to evidence-based practices and policies. Identifying the adverse effects of some of the “best” educational interventions with examples from classrooms to boardrooms, the author investigates causes and offers clear recommendations.“A highly readable and important book about the side effects of education reforms. Every educator and researcher should take its lessons to heart.” —Diane Ravitch, New York University“A stunning analysis of the problems encountered in our efforts to improve education. If Yong Zhao has not delivered the death blow to naive empiricism, he has at least severely wounded it.” —Gene V. Glass, San José State University“This book is a brilliantly written analysis of well-known educational change efforts followed by a concrete call for action that no policymaker, researcher, teacher, or education reform advocate should leave unread.” —Pasi Sahlberg, University of New South Wales, Sydney“Nothing less than the future of the republic is dealt with in this wonderful and crucial book about the field of educational research and policy.” —David C. Berliner, Arizona State University

47 review for What Works May Hurt—Side Effects in Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    Seán Mchugh

    This book is great, the perfect antidote to book's like Dylan Wiliam's recent retrogressive missive with it's admonishment of progressive education and it's lauding of traditional content/knowledge driven teaching, with the only metric of efficacy worth considering being standardised test scores. Zhao's book isn't too long, a wish more author's would consider that, despite its short length it is rather repetitive, and too focused on NCLB for a non American like me. Still the best far outweighs t This book is great, the perfect antidote to book's like Dylan Wiliam's recent retrogressive missive with it's admonishment of progressive education and it's lauding of traditional content/knowledge driven teaching, with the only metric of efficacy worth considering being standardised test scores. Zhao's book isn't too long, a wish more author's would consider that, despite its short length it is rather repetitive, and too focused on NCLB for a non American like me. Still the best far outweighs the rest. We need more writers like this, resisting the tendency to encourage the extremes of pendulum swings from traditional to progressive educational practices. Finding a balance between them is difficult, maybe impossible, but that's exactly what most teachers have to do, no matter what their leaders expect from them. I finish with this great quote from the book—I live an work in an international school in Singapore, and I'm sick of pedants in the UK who are convinced the PISA international comparisons are a useful metric for determining effective teaching. If that was true, why would expat parents in Singapore pay tooth and nail to keep their kids OUT of local Singaporean schools? Because those schools may well excel at teaching kids how to be great test takers, but 'what works hurts'. [Remember this is written by a Chinese man] "East Asia has admired American education for its effectiveness in producing a diversity of innovative and creative talents, happy and confident children, and socially adept and emotionally mature students. East Asian parents and students also are jealous of American children for their opportunities to participate in sports, music, and free play; their relaxed school life; their equal status with teachers; their freedom from anxiety and pressure; and their interactions with society and nature. If at all possible, they don’t want to care about test scores. This is why many East Asian parents, given the opportunity, pursue an American-style education either by coming to America or having their children attend an American-style school in Asia..."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jean Schram

    The author presents an excellent explanation of side effects in education with specific examples and a call to action. “When looking for evidence of effectiveness of educational interventions, we must take a holistic and long-term perspective. We should look not only at the effects on intended outcomes, but also at the impact on other outcomes. We should look at the effects not only on all students, but also on individuals in different situations. This is the lesson we should learn from medicine The author presents an excellent explanation of side effects in education with specific examples and a call to action. “When looking for evidence of effectiveness of educational interventions, we must take a holistic and long-term perspective. We should look not only at the effects on intended outcomes, but also at the impact on other outcomes. We should look at the effects not only on all students, but also on individuals in different situations. This is the lesson we should learn from medicine, but that has been missed in the current movement to transform education into an evidence-based field” (32). I actually got chills reading the chapter of the unintended side effects of (the bipartisan) No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act (on students and on teachers such as myself, as we were perceived to be the cause of the achievement gap). We MUST take a holistic and longitudinal look at each of the choices we make in education on the large- and small-scale levels. I look forward to reading this book again, as well as reading other books by this author.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Whaley Whaley

    Extremely dry, but a necessary read and call to action for anyone interested in finally fostering the best educational opportunities and strategies for ALL students at the INDIVIDUAL level. Counting What Counts impelled me more, but this text dove into much more of the failed attempts at education reform than CWC. Panacea doesn't exist, and it's time to start treating each student's education as just that: individual.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

  5. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ericca

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carmelo

  8. 4 out of 5

    Matt Esterman

  9. 5 out of 5

    Scott

  10. 5 out of 5

    Marte Van Oort

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marietta

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael Crawford

  13. 4 out of 5

    Barb Cherem

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kirk Savage

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey Franson

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jean Gunderson

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    Daniel Scott

  18. 5 out of 5

    Hollyl

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Harkness

  20. 5 out of 5

    Adam Eastley

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah Helbley

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nurlan Imangaliyev

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Heath Nash

  24. 4 out of 5

    Callum Philbin

  25. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Williams

  26. 4 out of 5

    Chris Friend

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Rowse-Borrelli

  29. 5 out of 5

    MARK H GONZALEZ MD

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen P

  31. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  32. 4 out of 5

    Sean Hickey

  33. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Anderson

  34. 4 out of 5

    Christine

  35. 5 out of 5

    Aubrey

  36. 5 out of 5

    حسن حجازي

  37. 5 out of 5

    Erin

  38. 4 out of 5

    Amin Senin

  39. 4 out of 5

    Michael Barton

  40. 5 out of 5

    Josh

  41. 5 out of 5

    Hugo Duregård

  42. 5 out of 5

    Shaina Gaglione

  43. 5 out of 5

    Guillem

  44. 4 out of 5

    Dana

  45. 5 out of 5

    Spencer Smith

  46. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Mangler

  47. 4 out of 5

    Jayme Carruthers

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