This book reviews Eisner's ground-breaking theories on aesthetic intelligence—theories that have helped us rethink the connections among art, literacy, research, and evaluation. A full section devoted to cognition and representation explains how the process of education expands and deepens the kinds of meaning people have in their lives. Schools must therefore help children learn to encode and decode the many forms of meaning they encounter, be they visual, auditory, linguistic, kinesthetic, or mathematical. It is precisely because those meanings are often expressed through the arts, that Eisner believes the critical methods employed in the arts have broader educational relevance. That relevance is explored in a section entitled "Rethinking Educational Research," which examines how the arts can be used to study, understand, and improve educational practice.
In an era when school reform movements are sweeping the nation, Eisner's organic or "ecological" approach is more cogent than ever. He discusses this approach in detail in the final section of the book, "The Practice and Reform of Schools," making problematic beliefs about the utility of fixed and uniform standards in a nation whose schools serve fifty million students. It is fitting, then, that with The Kind of Schools We Need
, teachers, school administrators, and scholars will find a connection to one of the most influential thinkers in education today.