Book by Andy Hargreaves & Dennis Shirley
Review by Anthony Smothers
Academic Advising
University of Northern Iowa

Andy Hargreaves and Dennis Shirley’s book The Fourth Way is a critical read for all educators for two reasons. First, their book discusses in detail the need for a cultural change in education that affects social, economical, and development of our country.  The second is that holistic change must have engaged participation from students, parents, teachers, administrators, schools, social programs and government.  Examples from Finland, the United Kingdom, South Korea, and Singapore are supported and guided through government resources and not from government control.

The book describes three dynamic dimensions starting as innovative teaching methods where the student is the center of all creative teaching.  This resulted with inconsistent success across the country in which becomes critical with eroded public trust and economic recession.  The second way is the time period developing competitive markets like charter schools and standardizations from the scare of the 1981 “A Nation at Risk Report”.  The third ways attempt, to merge the first two ways by government control with “No Child Left Behind (NCLB).”  The issues of temporary success and long term problems of school systems with decrease of teachers, student achievement, school budgets, and social change gives advisors a brief historical look at our ever evolving student’s history and needs. 

The authors support their urgency and concern for our educational system accountability with examples of misleading data, misinterpreting data and misused data.  Academic advisors should carefully read and critically think of the research data we seek on major-changers, advising practices, and how college affects students.  We must examine educational studies with open-mindedness and objectivity when using information to plan advising mission, vision, goals, and programming.

The greatest hope that the authors provide are the guiding principles that inspire teaching. You will recognize the passion for teaching as advising through the authors principles as similar to the NACADA Core Values and CAS Standards.  The collective social need and responsibility that is shared not only between a college culture but in all of higher education is shared through our professional networking that is one of the principles that the authors share as one improvement with public education.

Lastly, the authors frame their fourth way, through the “Six Pillars of Purpose and Partnership” addressing the vision of cultural change.  Advisors may find it helpful in thinking of their own practice in advising, working on committees, participating in the community. Engagement and inclusion from all community members are critical to this change.  There are times that we all forget that not only more students should be involved in the process, but alumni, business leaders, community leaders, citizens, and other partners we tend to take for granted.  Thinking beyond what advising and the university do for the community, but how are the universities engaged, participating and partnering (just being a good neighbor) in the community.

This short book is packed with a concise description of opportunities with our educational system.  At first glance, this book may not be applicable because it emphasizes K-12; however, this book is a great start to understanding and formulating a cultural change in education that advisors as teachers need to reflect upon.

The fourth way: The inspiring future for educational change. (2009). Book by Andy Hargreaves & Dennis Shirley. Review by Anthony Smothers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press (SAGE Publications) 145 pp., $25.95 ISBN # 978-1-4129-7637-4
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