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Reviewed by:
  • Transformational Teaching in the Information Age
  • Brian Caughie (bio)
T. R. Rosebrough & R. G. Leverett. (2011). Transformational Teaching in the Information Age. Alexandria, Va.: ASCD. 178 pages. ISBN: 978-1-4166-1090-8. $24.95 paperback.


The Information Age in which we currently live poses a unique challenge to educators. Although access to information is a good thing, we have reached the point of information overload. Although knowledge and information have always increased, the rate at which they are increasing now is unprecedented: "We are in danger of consuming huge amounts of information divorced from purpose and meaning" (ix). Increasingly, educators face students who have unlimited access to information but limited skills to understand or process that information. In Transformational Teaching in the Information Age, Rosebrough and Leverett explore how to keep learners at the center of the classroom and ask teachers to think about why we teach our learners. In order to address these issues, the authors propose a transformational approach to teaching that deviates from the more traditional informational approach.

They write, "U.S. education seems to be at a watershed moment. Transformational teaching as a concept can assist. As we worry about teaching the basics in our schools, we tend to deprioritize socialization and omit enriching ideas that come from student inquiry" (113). Teachers can no longer be in the information gathering business: "The best teachers are the most human teachers, but the modern era can conspire to deny our best qualities" (ix). A hyperfocus on standards and high-stakes testing conspire against the best teachers. However, teachers can turn to the Transformational Pedagogy Model (discussed in this book) to help them focus on what is most important to students in the Information Age.

Essential Ideas

"Teaching should be about transforming learners through a synergy of academic, social, and spiritual goals" (95)—this main idea is repeated throughout the book. Teachers need to consider their "value added," which considers what difference they make in the learning and lives of their students. As technology continues to expand and the rate of change increases, teachers can return to the question of "why they teach" in order to make sense of things.

The transformational teaching model represents a major shift from the informational teaching model. Informational teaching involves presenting ideas without regard for a student's ability to make connections to them. High-stakes tests and standards are hallmarks of informational teaching that lead to huge [End Page 66] curricula that do not afford students the opportunity to consider concepts in depth. The focus on standardized test scores has obvious consequences: "Focusing on the intellect alone denies children's complete identities. A fulfilled life requires more than intellectual pursuits" (5). The Information Age has led to informational teaching, which has little concern for deep understanding or values of socialization. Currently, most educators tend to approach teaching from an analysis level, rather than a synthesis level.

Most educators like to start with the small details, instead of the big picture. To facilitate a shift away from the informational model, the authors "propose a return to schooling where education begins with learners and their transformation, where the teacher-student dynamic is spotlighted, where the academic and the social are meant to be connected and combined, and where the social is once again joined with spiritual meaning and transcendence" (14): "Transformational teaching includes a concern for a person's ultimate welfare and potential, for teaching as well as subjects. This means the way teachers think and learners feel in school transcends the curriculum" (17). They "define transformational pedagogy as an act of teaching designed to change the learner academically, socially, and spiritually" (16).

Primary and Secondary Audiences

Transformational Teaching in the Information Age is written primarily for teachers. The authors implore teachers to change their philosophies regarding what good teaching is. They invite teachers to reflect on their current beliefs and practices and consider if they are appropriate for today's students. The book includes anecdotes and stories that teachers are likely to relate to. The secondary audience for this book is administrators. Although the authors rarely mention school leaders, many of the policies and practices that may inhibit transformational...


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