Recommended Reading

Would you like to learn more about education in America, classical schools, or liberal education? Or, would you like to prepare for a career teaching in or leading a Hillsdale-affiliated classical school? Here are some places to begin.

What is classical education? How does it compare to the education students receive in most American schools today?

The Ten Points
Ten things that make schools affiliated with Hillsdale College distinctive.

“Common Core Common Sense”
Daniel Coupland
An explanation of Common Core and the initiative to centralize K-12 curriculum in the U.S., with a brief history of K-12 education in the country.

“Limits of the Trivium” 
Terrence Moore
Why classical education is about more than studying the trivium.

Awakening Wonder: A Classical Guide to Truth, Goodness, and Beauty
Steve Turley (Classical Academic Press, 2015)
This book outlines history and development of the transcendent values of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty and how they redeem our senses and sanctify our imaginations.

Why are teachers so important? What is the role of a teacher in a classical classroom?

What’s So Great About Teachers?
Louise Cowan (Dallas Morning News)
Teaching is about more than helping students learn facts and skills. Teachers are representatives of a civilization who hand on wisdom and virtue to the next generation.

The School of Trust
Ian Lindquist (National Affairs)
What do teachers — those who are responsible for ensuring students’ education — actually do on a daily basis? What does the world of the classroom look like from the teacher’s perspective?

How do classical schools treat technology in the classroom?


“The Digital Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected”
Nellie Bowles (The New York Times)
America’s public schools are promoting technology in the classroom, even for students as young as preschool. Meanwhile, the rich are banning devices altogether.

“Silicon Valley Execs Get Your Kids Hooked On Their Gadgets, But Not Their Kids”
Jessica Burke (The Federalist)
A reflection upon a trio of New York Times articles that presents both the irony of tech makers placing limitation upon their own children’s screen time and the dire need for most to follow suit.

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?
Jean Twenge (The Atlantic)
A look into the power the smartphone has over adolescents’ social lives and mental health.

What is the state of education in America today? What is the classical education movement?

Classical Schools in Modern America
Ian Lindquist (National Affairs)
Great recent overview of the state of classical education in America. Includes a brief history and describes the landscape of classical schools today. 

Charter Schools and Their Enemies
Dr. Thomas Sowell (Basic Books, 2020)
A case study highlighting the fight against education reform and the forces unified in eliminating school choice.

How to Educate a Citizen: The Power of Shared Knowledge to Unify a Nation
E.D. Hirsch, Jr. (Harper, 2020)
A manifesto of sorts on an educational foundation to better our country.

Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms
Diane Ravitch (Simon & Schuster, 2000)
A history of the progressive shift in education from 1890 to 2000, including the belief that schools can solve any social and political problem and that only certain children can benefit from a high-quality education.

The Making of Americans: Democracy and Our Schools
E.D. Hirsch, Jr. (Yale University Press, 2010)
An analysis of how American education has lost its way and what must be done to right the course, including an argument in favor of a content-based curriculum to combat social and economic inequality.


I have a liberal education and want to become a great teacher. What should I read?

Teach Like a Champion 3.0: 63 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College
Doug Lemov (Jossey-Bass, 2010)
Newly updated version that provides clear guidance on the art of teaching.

The Seven Laws of Teaching
John Milton Gregory (Canon Press, 2014)
A useful guide offering practical application for the experienced or the novice classical teacher.

The Elements of Teaching
James M. Banner, Jr., and Harold C. Cannon (Yale University Press, 1999)
Squarely presents teachers with the intellectual, moral and emotional characteristics the authors deem indispensable to the art of teaching.

The Art of Teaching
Gilbert Highet (Vintage, 1989)
An historical approach to education from the Sophists to the modern teacher.

I feel confident as a teacher, but I’m new to the great books and classical curriculum. Where should I begin?

The Great Tradition
Richard Gamble (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2009)
An anthology of the classical and Christian tradition presenting seminal works that collectively reiterate the true purpose of education in guiding one’s soul toward wisdom and goodness.

Hillsdale College Online Courses
Free online courses on literature, history, mathematics, science, American civics, and economics. Also a course on the principles behind classical K-12 education.

I am interested in becoming a school headmaster or principal someday, but I want to learn about leadership. Where should I begin?

Leadership: Theory and Practice
Peter G. Northouse (SAGE Publications, 8th edition, 2018)
An international leading read that is an accessible yet academically robust, covering the major theories and models of leadership. The new edition also includes case studies and a new leadership style questionnaire.

Ethics 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know (101 Series)
John C. Maxwell (Center Street,  2005)
Maxwell is a widely known as one of the lasting drivers on the subject of ethical business practices. This book simplifies it into one observation—following the Golden Rule.

Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization
John Wooden (McGraw-Hill Education, 2005)
One of the most influential books on genuine leadership on the market. Includes a discussion of his 12 Lessons in Leadership and his Pyramid of Success which so many coaches, executives, and powerhouse managers rely on for daily guidance in their work and personal lives.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: 30th Anniversary Edition
Stephen R. Covey (Simon & Schuster, 2020)
One of the most influential business leadership books of the twentieth century, read by presidents, CEOs, educators and parents. A step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity—principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates. This book is most about getting yourself right before leading others.

The Effective Executive: A Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done
Peter F. Drucker (Harper Business, 50th Anniversary edition, 2017)
A timeless read for series executives where Drucker identifies the five practices essential to business effectiveness that can, and must, be learned: managing time, choosing what to contribute to the organization, knowing where and how to mobilize strength for best effect, setting the right priorities, and knitting all of them together with effective decision-making. Another of Drucker’s might be The Practice of Management which was the first of its kind, separating the discipline of management in a fundamental and basic way.

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Simon Sinek (Portfolio, 2011)
A paradigm shift in the way modern leaders think that started a universal movement to reset the bar for the lives of leaders everywhere. Sinek examines what has inspired the best leaders in modern history to reveal the driving force behind initiative.

Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition; Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
Daniel Goleman (Bantam, 2006)
A persuasive account explaining emotional intelligence of the “two minds”—the rational and emotional.

Biographies of Leaders

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin, Joyce E. Chaplin (W. W. Norton & Co., 2012)
One of the most influential memoirs in the history of our country, a study of excellence dedicated to forming practical life habits and disciplined time management.

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Clayborne Carson (Grand Central Publishing, 1998)
Although absent of any of the personal controversies, this is a timeless study of the leader of a massive movement and how man, when fired by an unquenchable objective, can persevere through challenges of one’s own beliefs and the limits of one’s understanding and wisdom of a changing world to drive revolutionary change. Liked for his views or not, MLK was a distinctive leader.

Abraham Lincoln
Godfrey R. Charnwood, Lord Charnwood (Cosimo Classics, 2009)
The classic Lincoln biography from 1916.

Washington: The Indispensable Man
James Thomas Flexner (Back Bay Books, 1994)
A portrait of the Father of our nation, a canny political genius who knew how to inspire people to a revolution that changed the world forever. It succinctly discusses GW as a man of contradictions, but always a towering historical figure, at once a fallible human being made of flesh and blood and spirit – not a statue of marble and wood…a great and good man.

Churchill’s War Leadership
Sir Martin Gilbert (Vintage, 2004)
From Churchill’s official biographer, a look at Churchill from a human perspective and insights into how he struggled to find the strength to lead his nation forward from its darkest hours in the height of the Second World War. I defer to better selections from the College if appropriate.

I want to work in school leadership, but I need to learn more about the nuts and bolts. What should I read?

Time Management

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
David Allen (Penguin Books, 2015)
A guide to approaching both professional and personal tasks that has widely become known as “the definitive business self-help book of the decade.”

Fundamentals of Public Finance and Budgeting

The Basics of Public Budgeting and Financial Management: A Handbook for Academics and Practitioners
Charles E. Menifield (Hamilton, 2020)
This book blends budgetary theory and practice in a volume that is easy to understand.

Public Education Law

Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education
Susan Wise Bauer (W. W. Norton & Co., 2018)
A view of the American school system and the need for reform through the eyes of a concerned parent. 

Education Law: Sixth Edition
J.C. Blokhuis (Routledge, 2021)
A comprehensive survey of the legal problems and issues confronting school leaders, teachers, and policymakers today.

Hiring and Staffing

Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching and Keeping the Best People
Bradford D. Smart (Portfolio, 2005)
A strategic look at identifying what your organization needs and wants, starting with its ethos, and driving hiring decisions through cultural fitness and mission alignment. Finding or developing genuine A Players. There are others here, too. This is one I have experience with and believe in its effectiveness as a model.

Special Education

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law
Peter W. D. Wright & Pamela Darr Wright (Harbor House Law Press, 1999)
A reference book for lawyers, parents and educators that presents a comprehensive overview of special education law, including the complete text of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act in addition to related Supreme Court cases.

Board Governance

Boards That Make a Difference: A New Design for Leadership in Nonprofit and Public Organizations, Third Edition
John Carver (Jossey-Bass, 2006)
This book is the “flagship” explanation of the Policy Governance model as it relates to nonprofit and governmental boards. It is the single most inclusive text on the model. No need for the other books once this is digested and understood.