When it comes to what we call preparing talent – teaching and learning – the books that best help me understand the big picture are:
Disrupting Class by Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn and Curtis Johnson. For those interested in how education should look in the future this is the best book I have read. It goes far beyond the increasingly trivial debate we have about education (public vs. charter, should we require Algebra II?, etc.) to the real transformation that is needed to provide a quality education for all. A transformation they believe will be enabled by software that increasingly is being customized for individual learning styles. Which will drive a complete reinvention of schooling. The book also makes a convincing case that existing schools (public and charter; all, not just urban) are unlikely to deliver the kind of change we need.
The Race Between Education and Technology by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz. A warning: this is an academic book, with lots of statistics. But its worth getting through. It makes a compelling case that the slow down in American economic growth as well as rising income inequality are caused predominantly by stagnating education attainment. That what drove America to be the world’s most prosperous economy was our human capital advantage, which we are now losing. College attainment has basically been stagnant for a generation. Unless that changes we are in for years of slow growth and stagnant income for many.