Smart Review | The New Art and Science of Teaching

In the introduction of Robert Marzano’s The New Art and Science of Teaching, he describes this incarnation of the original book as “much more than an update” and calls it a “framework for substantive change. Indeed, one might even consider it a manifesto.”

The book identifies over 330 specific strategies that converge the artistry of teaching with scientific research spanning decades. The familiar Marzano voice is ever-present in this new edition, but there is an underlying call to action that operates on a larger scale, and I can’t help but note the word choice of “manifesto” as quite appropriate.

As a long time Marzano devotee, I was pleasantly surprised that the book retained the magic of the original while also approaching learning from a new perspective. The three overarching categories in The New Art of Science and Teaching are a shift from the first edition in that the original was what the teacher must do, while this new edition draws from what must happen in students’ minds in order to be successful learners. This shift reflects the changing attitudes in education and the influence of growth mindset.

The highlight for me, as a reader very familiar with the original, is the “Implications for Change” section at the end of each chapter. Marzano does not mince words, and just as a manifesto implies, he lays out exactly what needs to be done in order to craft a paradigm that works for education.

For example, in “Conducting Practicing and Deepening Lessons” he calls upon teachers to provide opportunities for students to learn new sets of skills, not just academic content. He explains, “I believe the the college-and-career-readiness skills embedded in this design area represent a new curriculum that teachers must cover in concert with academic content.”

Marzano is not alone in the world of education with this suggestion, but he is perhaps the clearest in the “how” to make this happen, which he lays out in Chapter 11, “Making System Changes.”

In this chapter, his recommendations will cause many teachers to want to stand up and cheer. Of his eight recommendations, the one that most hit home for me was “Rely on Classroom Measurements,” as it asks us to “rely on teacher-designed assessments, thus altering the almost complete reliance on tests administered outside the confines of regular instruction.” As any teacher who’s experienced the roller coaster of high stakes assessments knows, there are better ways to see what a child has learned. Ultimately, Marzano recommends a measurement process (which he explains in depth in chapter 2) because it allows teachers access to the “rich data that are available from classroom assessments.”

The difficult part of reading Marzano’s amazing recommendations is knowing that it takes an entire organization to make them happen. For example, many of us know the perils of the locked in schedule and struggle with accurately conveying student growth on report cards, yet classroom teachers don’t usually have the authority to make these changes. This leads me to an important recommendation regarding this book: get it into the hands of administrators and policy makers.

Marzano’s extensive research and career-long dedication to best practices lend gravitas to the problems that teacher’s voice. Too often, teachers have ideas that are untested, and we don’t have the data to back up the decisions; however, chapter 11 is just the manifesto we’ve been looking for to explain the “how” to reform education.

For those not familiar with Marzano, or those new to teaching, this is the perfect primer of time-tested, teacher-approved, research-based strategies and the data to support them. It is dense, to be sure, but it is exceptionally readable and user-friendly with a nicely defined structure, great index and likable tone. Marzano ends the book as strongly as he began, reiterating that these pages hold the power to “transform the nature of K-12 schooling.” This reader thoroughly agrees.

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A copy of this book was provided by the author for this review. If you are interested in having review your product or book, please contact [email protected].

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Amber Chandler

Amber Chandler is a middle school teacher at Frontier Middle School in Hamburg, NY.

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