After reading the book, I felt compelled to write a post about it because there are so many points in it that align with my thinking and that challenge it. The book is DEFINITELY NOT meant to put the mind at ease. If you are very resistant to change, I would not pick it up. I suggest you find an old pedagogy textbook from your Foundations of Education class and sit back for a comforting evening of industrial model education. However, if you are interested in thinking about the future (and present) of education, then Richardson's book is for you.
One of the most powerful ideas for me is one of which I am acutely aware. Schools and teaching cannot remain the same as we move through the 21st Century. This seems fairly obvious; however, the system within which schools and teachers work does not allow for the kind of change that is needed. In a competition based, high stakes testing environment, where those in charge of educating the young are evaluated by the number on a standardized test, it is difficult to foster the skills that will be needed to succeed in the world the children are creating and inheriting.
Richardson truly hit home with his anecdote regarding the Friday Folder, the essential crux of which is a task completion based idea of education that can be sent home and forgotten in the folder vs. an authentic creation of meaning and skills that would better serve a real audience and the greater good. These two types of learning are different in every way. In an information abundant world we should no longer be expecting students to simply "complete" the learning we assign. We should be learning with them and creating the learning as we move along. This does not mean that we can throw out curriculum and the expectations that students will learn concepts and skills; but, it does mean that we may need to realize that the learning of information that is "Google-able" will not be enough in the world of the future. The greater questions are: How do I discern which information is valid and useful? What do I do with the information once I have it? How can I connect with others to use this information?
I could go on discussing each point in the book; however, I think Why School? is an important discussion starter in figuring out the direction of schools in the future. If we ignore the message that Richardson is sending, we will find our schools obsolete and not able to educate children effectively for the world in which they must thrive.
I highly recommend this quick read and would love to dialogue with anyone about it here or on twitter @PrincipalArc.