The best pedagogy books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about pedagogy and why they recommend each book.

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Music Psychology in Education

By Susan Hallam,

Book cover of Music Psychology in Education

Whether you’re a learner or a teacher, developing an interest in what goes on behind the scenes will naturally reap many benefits. This fascinating book deals with many issues that need to be considered whether music is a hobby or a profession. Susan considers how music is processed in the brain, what musical ability actually is, the psychological side of learning to play an instrument and sing, what feeds into our motivation, and generally the extraordinary impact that music has on our lives.


Who am I?

Paul Harris is one of the UK’s most influential music educationalists. He studied the clarinet at the Royal Academy of Music, where he won the August Manns Prize for outstanding performance in clarinet playing and where he now teaches. He is in great demand as a teacher, composer, and writer (he has written over 600 books); and his inspirational masterclasses and workshops continue to influence thousands of young musicians and teachers all over the world in both the principles and practice of musical performance and education.


I wrote...

You Can Read Music: The Practical Guide

By Paul Harris,

Book cover of You Can Read Music: The Practical Guide

What is my book about?

This is a practical workbook for anyone who has ever wanted to read music notation. It explains the process in clear manageable steps and blows the myth that reading music is difficult right out of the water. It is ideal for anyone wishing to develop this ability whether they are entirely new to reading music or someone who wants to improve and perfect their skill. It works for both players of any instrument and singers. By the end of this book, you will be able to read and understand music notation - you don’t even need a musical instrument!

Harmony In Practice

By Anna Butterworth,

Book cover of Harmony In Practice

Should you decide to work through my book, I’m sure you’ll find reading music a very attainable skill. And having attained this skill, you may now be considering the possibility of writing music. There are quite a number of books on the subject to recommend but a very comprehensive and thorough approach is Anna Butterworth’s Harmony in Practice. She takes you through the process of understanding musical harmony which will form the background of the melody and rhythm you may wish to impose and in a short amount of time you may find yourself writing your first simple pieces. 


Who am I?

Paul Harris is one of the UK’s most influential music educationalists. He studied the clarinet at the Royal Academy of Music, where he won the August Manns Prize for outstanding performance in clarinet playing and where he now teaches. He is in great demand as a teacher, composer, and writer (he has written over 600 books); and his inspirational masterclasses and workshops continue to influence thousands of young musicians and teachers all over the world in both the principles and practice of musical performance and education.


I wrote...

You Can Read Music: The Practical Guide

By Paul Harris,

Book cover of You Can Read Music: The Practical Guide

What is my book about?

This is a practical workbook for anyone who has ever wanted to read music notation. It explains the process in clear manageable steps and blows the myth that reading music is difficult right out of the water. It is ideal for anyone wishing to develop this ability whether they are entirely new to reading music or someone who wants to improve and perfect their skill. It works for both players of any instrument and singers. By the end of this book, you will be able to read and understand music notation - you don’t even need a musical instrument!

Musical Excellence

By Aaron Williamon (editor),

Book cover of Musical Excellence: Strategies and Techniques to Enhance Performance

For anyone who is performing at any level really, this book will help them enhance their performance and manage the stress that sometimes seems to appear in the performance situation. The book looks at ways to approach the music that we have decided to perform a variety of practice strategies and some particularly interesting techniques for all-around improvement taking in both the physical side of playing and the musical side. It’s a serious and quite academic book but well worth the effort.


Who am I?

Paul Harris is one of the UK’s most influential music educationalists. He studied the clarinet at the Royal Academy of Music, where he won the August Manns Prize for outstanding performance in clarinet playing and where he now teaches. He is in great demand as a teacher, composer, and writer (he has written over 600 books); and his inspirational masterclasses and workshops continue to influence thousands of young musicians and teachers all over the world in both the principles and practice of musical performance and education.


I wrote...

You Can Read Music: The Practical Guide

By Paul Harris,

Book cover of You Can Read Music: The Practical Guide

What is my book about?

This is a practical workbook for anyone who has ever wanted to read music notation. It explains the process in clear manageable steps and blows the myth that reading music is difficult right out of the water. It is ideal for anyone wishing to develop this ability whether they are entirely new to reading music or someone who wants to improve and perfect their skill. It works for both players of any instrument and singers. By the end of this book, you will be able to read and understand music notation - you don’t even need a musical instrument!

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

By Paulo Freire,

Book cover of Pedagogy of the Oppressed

With this study, the legendary Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, delivered a manifesto for a critical pedagogy that continues to undergird the mission statement of many university departments all over the world, and in particular in the Global South, from the Humanities to the Social Sciences. The book tells the story of the eternal struggle between the ruling classes and the underprivileged castes in society, and their resistance against the oppressive power of that system. I read this book at SOAS University of London. It has informed my understanding of civil resistance as a form of democratic empowerment which is so crucial to keep any form of authoritarianism at bay.


Who am I?

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam is a world-renowned scholar and author. A double graduate of Cambridge University, he received his Professorship in Global Thought at SOAS as one of the youngest academics in his field. Since then he has been elected to several honorary positions all over the world, some of them with the royal seal and including at Harvard University and Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences in Kunming, China.


I wrote...

What is Iran?

By Arshin Adib-Moghaddam,

Book cover of What is Iran?

What is my book about?

What is Iran is the first book of its kind, as it comes with a playlist to read by. Likened to the “School of Love”, that Adib-Moghaddam adopted from Persian poetry, the book sheds fresh light on everything there is to know about Iran, the region that it is embedded in and the global politics affecting it. Adib-Moghaddam uses musical pieces as a way to offer a holistic understanding of the full spectrum of Iranian affairs. As a result, even the general reader is invited to traverse a wide array of topics in an interactive format which merges approaches from the social sciences with philosophy, poetry, and art.

These topics include a variety of themes, issues, and personalities: from Trump, Khomeini, the Shah, Saddam Hussein, and Qasem Soleimani, to Israel, Syria, Latin America, China, and the Gulf monarchies. Ultimately, this book demonstrates in clear and accessible prose the impact of Iranian politics on a global scale, and offers solutions to the various crises enveloping the country in the region and beyond.

Understanding the Beauty Appreciation Trait

By Rhett Diessner,

Book cover of Understanding the Beauty Appreciation Trait: Empirical Research on Seeking Beauty in All Things

Most scientific books on aesthetics focus on universal and generalizable principles. Rhett Diessner also does so in reviewing the psychological and neuroscience of the human experience of beauty. What sets this book apart from many others is that he also considers individual differences and how personality traits affect our aesthetic sensibilities. If you wonder why people vary in their appreciation of beauty, this is a book worth reading.


Who am I?

I have always been fascinated by beauty and art. As a child growing up in India, I sketched frequently. Later, I became obsessed with photography. In 1999, I moved from my first academic job to join the newly forming Center of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania. The move was an opportunity to rethink my research program. In addition to studying spatial cognition, attention, and language, I decided to investigate the biological basis of aesthetic experiences. At the time there was virtually no scholarship in the neuroscience of aesthetics. It has been an exciting journey to watch this field grow. And, it has been exhilarating to start the Penn Center for Neuroaesthetics, the first research center of its kind in the US.


I wrote...

The Aesthetic Brain: How We Evolved to Desire Beauty and Enjoy Art

By Anjan Chatterjee,

Book cover of The Aesthetic Brain: How We Evolved to Desire Beauty and Enjoy Art

What is my book about?

The Aesthetic Brain takes the reader on a wide-ranging journey through the world of beauty, pleasure, and art. Chatterjee uses neuroscience to probe how an aesthetic sense is etched in our minds and evolutionary psychology to explain why aesthetic concerns are central to our lives. He addresses fundamental questions: What is beauty? Is beauty universal? How is beauty related to pleasure? What is art? Should art be beautiful? Do we have an instinct for art?

Chatterjee starts by probing the reasons that we find people, places, and even numbers beautiful. At the root of beauty, he finds, is pleasure. He then examines our pleasures by dissecting why we like and why we want food, sex, and money and how these rewards relate to aesthetic encounters. His ruminations on beauty and pleasure prepare him and the reader to face art. 

Minds on Fire

By Mark C. Carnes,

Book cover of Minds on Fire: How Role-Immersion Games Transform College

Carnes wrote this book about ten years ago as a reflection of his experiences in using role-immersion games—simulations—since the 1990s. It recounts the tremendous enthusiasm of students as a result. Perfect attendance, coming long before and staying long after classes. Student reflections on how much deeper their learning experiences were. It inspired me to write my book based on my use of simulations in the classroom. 


Who am I?

Gaming led to my career as a history professor. When I was about ten, I discovered some of the first commercial board games, Gettysburg or Diplomacy. Hooked, I delved into the history behind such games and discovered a passion for delving deeper. After I began teaching, I thought I could share that passion with my students through historical simulations. My “sim” courses became among the most popular in the university. 


I wrote...

Can You Beat Churchill? Teaching History Through Simulations

By Michael A. Barnhart,

Book cover of Can You Beat Churchill? Teaching History Through Simulations

What is my book about?

Can You Beat Churchill? is an essay and a guidebook about using historical simulations to immerse students in actual historical roles and learn for themselves what they can (or cannot) change about the past.

Instead of Education

By John Holt,

Book cover of Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better

Holt writes that the best learning experience in his life wasn’t a “learning experience” at all, but serving on a submarine during World War 2. Success – and sheer survival – manifestly hinged on quickly bringing even the rawest and supposedly least educable of the crew to function at the highest level. In such purposive settings, everything about “teaching and learning” is different. School as we know it, Holt argues, is hypocrisy-inducing and soul-crushing, plus stupendously inefficient, but you can take this angry book as also a provocation to rethink pedagogy in a radical but still constructive way... even in, yes, something like school.

Who am I?

I’ve taught Philosophy graduate students at the same time as assisting in kindergartens when my kids were in community co-op schools... staging both classes the same way. Proud to be named Elon University’s 2002 Teacher of the Year, I have led classes “on the edge” ranging from “Millennial Imagination” and “Life in the Universe” (students just called it “Aliens”) to a Philosophy of Education course taught with a totally different pedagogy – embodying a different philosophy – every single session. I also work in environmental philosophy and am deeply involved in designing and building Common Ground Ecovillage in central North Carolina.


I wrote...

Teaching as the Art of Staging: A Scenario-Based College Pedagogy in Action

By Anthony Weston,

Book cover of Teaching as the Art of Staging: A Scenario-Based College Pedagogy in Action

What is my book about?

What I call “Impresarios with Scenarios” are teachers who make themselves class mobilizers, improvisers, and energizers, setting up self-unfolding learning challenges and adventures – off-beat and unexpected problems, unscripted dramas or role-plays, simulations that might take ten minutes or maybe a whole term – provoking and trusting students to run with them. Illustrated by detailed narratives from my own practice as well as others’, here is a conceptual framework as well as class-planning strategies for “teaching as staging”, in multiple settings and across the disciplines, differing sharply not just from “teaching as telling” but also from the supposedly opposite model of the teacher as facilitator or coach “guiding on the side”. Everyone active, no one on the side!

Musicking

By Christopher Small,

Book cover of Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening

This book explores music in a delightfully refreshing way where the author considers music essentially an activity and develops his concept of ‘musicking’ or ‘doing music’ in all its various ways. He gives much confidence to those who may think ‘they are not very good at music’ to take part in a much more enthusiastic and practical way. It’s a lovely way in to the exploration of this wonderful art.


Who am I?

Paul Harris is one of the UK’s most influential music educationalists. He studied the clarinet at the Royal Academy of Music, where he won the August Manns Prize for outstanding performance in clarinet playing and where he now teaches. He is in great demand as a teacher, composer, and writer (he has written over 600 books); and his inspirational masterclasses and workshops continue to influence thousands of young musicians and teachers all over the world in both the principles and practice of musical performance and education.


I wrote...

You Can Read Music: The Practical Guide

By Paul Harris,

Book cover of You Can Read Music: The Practical Guide

What is my book about?

This is a practical workbook for anyone who has ever wanted to read music notation. It explains the process in clear manageable steps and blows the myth that reading music is difficult right out of the water. It is ideal for anyone wishing to develop this ability whether they are entirely new to reading music or someone who wants to improve and perfect their skill. It works for both players of any instrument and singers. By the end of this book, you will be able to read and understand music notation - you don’t even need a musical instrument!

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