This paper is aimed at reviewing such books as The light in their eyes by Sonia Nieto (2009) and Reflective Teaching: An Introduction by Kenneth Zeichner and Daniel Liston (1996). Overall, it is possible to say that these academic workers offer valuable insights into different educational areas, especially decision-making and promotion of diversity in schools.
One can say that the information provided by the authors of these texts can help teachers improve their work. In particular, the authors help readers to look at the most common problems from various perspectives and modify the strategies that educators use. This is why these books should not be disregarded.
At first, one should look at the goals that the writers want to attain. In their book, Kenneth Zeichner and Daniel Liston (1996) discuss the peculiarities of reflective teaching. In particular, the scholars strive to describe the theoretical underpinnings of reflective teaching and its practical application.
Apart from that, the scholars attempt to develop a set of instructions which can help a teacher elaborate his/her instruction methods and ability to motivate learners (Zeichner & Liston, 1996). In turn, Sonia Nieto examines the importance of multiculturalism for the successful academic performance of students.
One of her major arguments is that a teacher should not view diversity only as a part of the curriculum because this approach can eventually lead to the exclusion of some students from educational process.
Instead, an educator should focus on his/her own perception of other cultures in order to enhance learners’ experience in the classroom and improve their academic performance (Nieto, 1996). Although these works are aimed at examining different questions, they have a similar feature. The authors openly discuss the problems that are faced by teachers and students.
There are several strengths of these books that can be identified. One of them is the willingness to find real-life applications to theoretical models. For instance, Kenneth Zeichner and Daniel Liston (1996) provide many examples which can demonstrate how educators can incorporate the principles into their work.
For instance, the authors compare the strategies of two teachers who have different assumptions about the behavior and performance of learners (Zeichner & Liston, 1996, p. 42). In this way, they explain how a teacher can modify his/her strategies in the course of the lesson. Moreover, they demonstrate that reflective thinking enables a person to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the chosen instruction methods.
These cases are important for the readers who should understand how theoretical aspects of this approach can be translated into practice. Another strength that can be identified is the logical presentation of the material and clarity. Kenneth Zeichner and Daniel Liston describe a set of steps through which a person improves his/her practices in the classroom.
For example, one can mention the framework consisting of such elements as rapid reflection, review, repair, research, and re-evaluation of one’s previous assumptions (Zeichner & Liston, 1996, p. 47). In this way, a teacher can better address the problems which occur in the class.
Yet, there are some limitations that should not be overlooked. In particular, one can speak about the absence of empirical evidence which can confirm the benefits of reflective teaching. Therefore, the arguments of the authors lack empirical evidence.
Sonia Nieto’s book also has several strengths and weakness. At first, it is important to focus on the examples that the author gives. These examples eloquently illustrate the reasons why many attempts to promote diversity are not effective (Nieto, 2009). First of all, this scholar discusses specific cases showing that institutional rules and the attitudes of many teachers lead to the marginalization of learners.
To some degree, this situation can be explained by the use of such terms as at-risk, minority or disadvantaged (Nieto, 2009, p. 25). This rhetoric leads to the marginalization of learners do not belong to the white majority (Nieto, 2009, p. 25). Apart from that, in the second chapter, the author discusses inequalities existing in the education system (Nieto, 2009).
In particular, the author speaks about underrepresentation of black people, insufficient funding, prejudice, and inability of many students to access the prestigious and challenging courses (Nieto, 2009, p. 23). This is one of the main aspects that should be considered. Moreover, Sonia Nieto discusses specific ways in which a teacher can empower learners.
One of them is the need to acknowledge their cultural identity of students without trying to categorize them into groups like majority or minority. In addition, the teacher should not think that diversity is an inseparable element of the curriculum. The main strength of this work is that the writer discusses various cases study illustrating how students can be marginalized.
However, there are some problems that should not be overlooked. In particular, Sonia Nieto does not explain how educators and policy-makers should empower learners and support their academic performance. In other words, the author does not explain how exactly her ideas should be applied by teachers. This is the main limitation that should be taken into account by the readers of this book.
Overall, these texts are relevant to my professional activities. For example, the book written by Kenneth Zeichner and Daniel Liston can help me improve my decision-making in the classroom. I will be able to re-evaluate some of the stereotypes that I have about the behavior of students in the classroom, the learning, and interactions with one another.
By adopting the principles of reflective teaching, I can better find an approach to learners who can represent various age groups. This is why I have found this book very interesting. In turn, the ideas expressed by Sonia Nieto are also of great value to me because they are useful for supporting students who may be disadvantaged due to some reasons.
Sonia Nieto’s work will increase my awareness about social and cultural factors affecting schools and other educational establishments. Thus, these books are informative and thought-provoking. In my opinion, they can be of great use to readers who study theoretical and practical aspects of education.
One can say that these books throw light on some of the most important questions that educators attempt to resolve. They are closely related to decision-making in the classroom and the design of instruction methods. Additionally, they can explain the origins of inequality in educational organizations like schools.
Moreover, these academic works show how teachers should modify their behavior in order to enhance learners’ performance and their experiences in the class. On the whole, these issues are relevant to many teachers who work with students representing different ethnic or cultural groups. Teachers can greatly benefit from this knowledge in order to support children and teenagers. These are the main aspects that can be identified.
Nieto, S. (2009). The light in their eyes: Creating multicultural learning communities. New York: Teachers.
Zeichner, K., & Liston, D. (1996). Reflective Teaching: An Introduction. Mawah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.