Book Review                                      Online Exclusive


Breaking Free From Myths

About Teaching and Learning  

Innovation as an Engine for Student Success  

by Allison Zmuda, ASCD, Alexandria, Va., 2010, 196 pp., $26.95 softcover 


In Breaking Free From Myths About Teaching and Learning: Innovation as an Engine for Student Success, Allison Zmuda argues that school is not working — for students, teachers, professors or employers. She contends the intractable dysfunction of K-12 education stems from nine myths about teaching and learning. If schools “break free” from these myths, they will transform into 21st-century learning organizations that engage students and inspire educators.

Zmuda begins her book by explaining each of the nine myths. These focus on the tendency of teachers to dominate classroom discourse and control content, thus reducing teaching and learning to something like a bartering experience. Students quickly figure out the answers that teachers want. Teachers reward efficient and compliant answer-finders with good grades. The contrived nature of the experience leaves teachers feeling frustrated and uninspired and students feeling disengaged and bored.

Zmuda suggests teachers and leaders can break free by developing meaningful mission and vision statements, designing authentic learning tasks that require students to apply prior knowledge and personal interests to solve relevant problems and establishing learning principles that align with how students learn and how their brains function.

While the book was organized well, the ideas about improving schools were not fresh or innovative. Mission and vision, authentic learning, and aligning pedagogy with neuroscience represent conventional wisdom, not innovation.

Reviewed by Anne S. McKenzie, executive director, Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative, West Springfield, Mass.



Give your feedback

Share this article

Order this issue