Teachers College Press 
 









Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way
Lessons from an Urban Classroom

Brian D. Schultz
Foreword by Carl A. Grant
Teaching for Social Justice
Pub Date: March 2008, 192 pages

Paperback: $24.95, ISBN: 0807748579
Cloth: $45, ISBN: 0807748587
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• AERA Division B Curriculum Studies Outstanding Book Award, 2009
• ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award Finalist, 2008
• AERA Critical Issues in Curriculum & Cultural Studies SIG Early Career Award, 2008
• AERA Narrative and Research SIG Early Career Award, 2008

“Renewed my belief that it is possible to write authentic narratives about urban schools. . . . I plan to make this book required reading for my teacher education students.”
—From the Foreword by Carl A. Grant, University of Wisconsin–Madison

“Once I began reading, I couldn't put it down. The power here is in the details. It’s a marvelous, important book and is badly needed at a moment when the values it upholds are under an unrelenting assault from forces of reactionary ignorance.”
Jonathan Kozol, author of Amazing Grace

“In a time of ever more testing and standardization, Brian Schultz demonstrates in powerful ways what the critically democratic alternative looks like. Anyone who wants to make a difference in urban education needs to read this book.”
—Michael W. Apple, author of Educating the “Right” Way

“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 Education Equity, UCLA

“The lessons about curriculum and teaching are powerful and the story is absolutely inspiring.”
James A. Beane, author of A Reason to Teach

“Carr Community Academy is a crumbling elementary school in Chicago next to one of the largest and most perilous public housing projects—Cabrini Green. It also is the location of one of the more spectacular fifth-grade classes in the country.”
Ralph Nader, consumer advocate, author, and founder, Public Citizen research group

“This fifth-grade class illustrates some important lessons about America: The neglect of the inner-city poor, the virtues of creative public service, of teaching to educate-not just to pass a test-and of perseverance.”
Robert Siegel, All Things Considered, National Public Radio

“When city kids are thought to be nothing more than a tangle of pathologies and deficits who must be ‘saved’ by crusading, missionary teachers the result is always some form of colonization. In this extraordinary book, Brian Schultz, a courageous teacher writing here with clarity and passion, performs a radical reversal and provides an alternative.”
William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education, University of Illinois at Chicago, and author of To Teach

“Through their compelling school improvement efforts, Schultz and his fifth graders clearly counter the colonizing policy that says only the privileged can be educated through freedom to pursue personal interests and collective commitments.”
William H. Schubert, University Scholar, University of Illinois at Chicago

A fresh take on what happens when a teacher says enough is enough and does the unthinkable: design a curriculum based on their students’ actual needs and aspirations. Flying in the face of reason, Brian Schultz did just that when he challenged his 5th grade class in urban Chicago to name a problem in their community that they wanted to solve. As the students of Room 405 focus on replacing their dilapidated school building, a historic voyage of repair and healing begins. Ultimately, it is their own questions and incredible accomplishments that make them realize their commitment and ability to change the world around them. This gem captures the remarkable transformations of everyone involved.

Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way is a significant reminder of the influence of our nation's determined teachers and what they can achieve whe they go against the grain of rigid curriculums and authoritarian standardized testing. Schultz’s debut work is a must-read for anyone who believes in the power of challenging convention, the authority of human compassion, and finding solutions that work for America's youth.

Brian D. Schultz is an assistant professor of education and honors faculty at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) in Chicago. He also taught in the Chicago Public Schools and in 2005 received the Educator of the Year Award from the Illinois Computing Educators. Brian is the recipient of 2008 Early Career Awards from the American Education Research Association in both Critical Issues in Curriculum & Cultural Studies, and Narrative & Research.

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