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February 27, 2014

The Future of Education: Our Recommended Reading List


We are lucky to stand on the shoulders of incredible thinkers and doers in the education field.

Our approach to personalized, whole-child learning is based on decades of research and insights from educational thought leaders, such as Ellen Galinsky at the Families and Work Institute and Carol Dweck at Stanford. We also look to Tony WagnerHoward Gardner, and Ron Ritchart (all Harvard-based scholars), as well as other bright minds committed to helping children reach their full potential.

Below is a short list of exceptional books that inform our educational philosophy and approach. They are sorted into three categories: Whole-Child LearningBest Practices in Global Education, and Teaching Strategies.

Enjoy! We hope the ideas you read about energize and inspire you to be a part of the future of education with us. 


AltSchool’s Recommended Reading List

Whole-Child Learning

Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World, by Tony Wagner. Wagner discusses the importance of play, passion, and purpose that drive young innovators.


Five Minds for the Future, by Howard Gardner. Gardner talks about the three minds related to the intellect (disciplined, synthesizing, and creative minds) and the two minds related to character (respectful and ethical minds).

Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs, by Ellen Galinsky. Based on child development research and neuroscience, Mind in the Making identifies the skills that help children thrive today and in the world of tomorrow.

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, by Paul Tough. Tough takes an investigative view towards uncovering the qualities that matter most in educational success: perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck. Dweck reveals the importance of a growth mindset that develops early in childhood and helps children become resilient and successful as adults.

A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change, by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown. Thomas and Brown make a case for an innovative, play-based educational culture that treats knowledge as fluid and evolving.

Turning Learning Right Side Up: Putting Education Back on Track, by Russell L. Ackoff and Danial Greenburg. A systems-thinker and an “in the trenches” educator ask the big questions: What is education for? Where should it take place? What is the lifelong learning experience?

Best Practices in Global Education

The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don’t Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need - and What We Can Do About It, by Tony Wagner. Schools have not changed in 100 years, but the world has. Wagner brings attention to the need to teach analytic and creative thinking in schools to prepare the next generation for global leadership.


The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way, by Amanda Ripley. Ripley seeks to understand how children learn to think and problem-solve in the new “education superpower” countries.

Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?, by Pasi Sahlberg. How do the Finns score so high on international achievement tests? Sahlberg gives an illuminating view into a case of educational reform that empowers teachers and students to perform exceptionally well.

Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement, by John Hattie. Hattie synthesizes more than 50,000 studies covering more than 80 million students to uncover what works best to improve learning outcomes.

Teaching Strategies

Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning, by Marc Prensky. Prensky advocates for a “pedagogy of partnering” in the classroom, where teachers look to the students first to design the educational experience.

 Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners, by Ron Ritchart, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison. This book is a collection of teaching practices from Harvard’s Project Zero to help students become deep and expressive thinkers.


Making Learning Visible: Children as Individual and Group Learners, by Project Zero (Harvard Graduate School of Education). Created in partnership with the Municipal Preschools of Reggio Emilia, this book outlines teaching strategies to create and sustain powerful learning cultures in the classroom.

Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding, by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins. Inquiry-based teaching is an art and science. McTighe and Wiggins illustrate how teachers can increase rigor and deepen understanding with the power of questions.

Designing for Living and Learning: Transforming Early Childhood Environments, by Deb Curtis and Margie Carter. Curtis and Carter share best practices for teachers looking to create warm, welcoming, and stimulating classroom environments.

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