Afterword by: Sonia Nieto
Publication Date: October 12, 2018
This celebrated narrative shows how a teacher, alongside his 5th-grade students, co-created a curriculum based on the students’ needs, interests, and questions. Follow Brian Schultz and his students from a Chicago housing project as they work together to develop an emergent and authentic curriculum based on what is most important to the 5th-graders—replacing their dilapidated school. The persuasive storytelling that captured the attention of educators and the media depicts the journey of one teacher in an urban school and his students juxtaposed against the powerful and entrenched bureaucracy of Chicago’s public education system. In this second edition, Schultz examines how school reform continues to fail students in urban contexts, reflects on his teaching and writing from a decade ago, and offers compelling updates on students and what became of the school. A lot can be learned from the young people of Room 405, then and now. Not only did these particular 5th-graders push back against the city and school board in their pursuit for a better learning environment for themselves and their community, but they also learned about the power of using their voices in purposeful ways.
Brian D. Schultz is professor and chair of the Department of Teacher Education at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He is the author of Teaching in the Cracks: Openings and Opportunities for Student-Centered, Action-Focused Curriculum.
“We can only hope that educators will read the new edition of Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way and be inspired to make similar choices themselves.”
—From the Foreword by Pedro Noguera, distinguished professor of education, UCLA
“In this eagerly awaited second edition, Schultz has reiterated what it means to be a courageous and caring teacher, one who plants seeds, encourages deep thinking, and nurtures students’ creativity and intelligence….When that happens, spectacular things do happen along the way.”
—From the Afterword by Sonia Nieto, professor emerita, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
“Still a compelling, insightful read that continues to remind us how much a better world depends on our ability to foster learning and teaching experiences that recognize, nurture, and honor young people's capacity to think deeply, to be agentive, and to hold us all accountable for improving our world.”
—Denise Taliaferro Baszile, vice president, American Educational Research Association-Division B–Curriculum Studies
"Blending humility with razor-sharp analysis, Brian Schultz invites us into a classroom where students ask, imagine, research, collaborate, and act to problem solve, all in the service of learning and of justice for themselves and their communities. This second edition highlights the ongoing dismantling of urban public schools in the name of ‘reform,’ even while fueling our sense of possibility and hope."
—Kevin Kumashiro, author of Bad Teacher! How Blaming Teachers Distorts the Bigger Picture
Praise for the First Edition!
“This project acknowledged and defied the obstacles that face urban classrooms, and the work of Schultz and his students ultimately stands as a model of pedagogical excellence.”
—Schools: Studies in Education
"A must-read for current and future teachers who wish to engage their students in democratic practice. Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way is also an excellent anchor for learning about and discussing methods of preparing students to become active citizens who engage in political, civic, and economic realms of society.”
—Journal of Educational Controversy
“Schultz has accomplished an extremely important goal in his work as a classroom teacher with these youth, and now as a scholar promoting this story. It is one that should be heard loud and clear by future teachers.”
“Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way will challenge and encourage educators to begin their own journey of implementing democratic teaching into their classrooms, one step at a time.”
—International Journal of Multicultural Education
“This is a marvelous and important book.”
—Jonathan Kozol, author of Savage Inequalities
“An amazing tale of incredible fifth-grade citizen activists that reveals what education in America's inner cities could and should be.”
—Jeannie Oakes, Presidential Professor in Educational Equity, UCLA
“Anyone who wants to make a difference in urban education needs to read this book.”
—Michael W. Apple, professor, University of Wisconsin–Madison
“Clearly counters the colonizing policy that says only the privileged can be educated through freedom to pursue personal interests and collective commitments.”
—William H. Schubert, professor emeritus, University of Illinois at Chicago
Table of Contents
Foreword to the Second Edition: A Lesson for Teachers on Making Choices and Making a Difference by Pedro A. Noguera
Foreword to the First Edition by Carl A. Grant
Preface and Acknowledgments
Prologue to the Second Edition
Touchstones and Pushing Back
Curriculum Definitions and Pushing Back
Storytelling and Pushing Back
Chapter 1. Embracing Students' Interests for Schoolwork
What's Worth Knowing?
"Inverting" the Curriculum
Education as a Two-Way Street
Chapter 2. Our School Is a Dump!: Identifying a Problem That Needs Solving
This Ain't No Schoolwork, This Is Important!
Feelin' Like a Big and Powerful Grown-Up
Needin' Them Pizza Things
3. Getting the Word Out: Sharing Authority in Room 405
You Wouldn't Let Your Kids Come to a School That Is Falling Apart
When Are We Going to Do Work?
Just Like a Record Deal
Chapter 4. Seeking a Perfect Solution
The Chicago Tribune
Carr's "Savage Inequalities"
Television, Radio, and Protecting the Kids
Chapter 5. Process as Product
Practicing What I Preached
Do You Have Any Pets?
The Bestest Year Ever
Nader Comes to Carr
Bittersweet Final Days
Chapter 6. Justice-Oriented Teaching
Theorizing with Students
Education with Authenticity and Purpose
Developing Classrooms for Social Action
Progressive Education in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods
Complicating Good Intentions
Chapter 7. Conclusion
How Ya Gonna Help Us?
Understanding Each Other
Let Those Voices Be Heard!
Enduring Achievement and Impact
Epilogue to the Second Edition
A New School for Other People's Kids
The Context of School Reform in Chicago and Beyond
Learning from Students
Some Current Situations
Activist Teachers, Activist Students
Empowering Teachers, Empowering Students
Afterword to the Second Edition
On Teaching with Hope and Humility by Sonia Nieto
About the Author