How Do You Know?  The Epistemological Foundations of 21st Century Literacy


"The ability to learn and reason is badly taught in our public schools, and deserves a radical upgrade.  The pathway for this crucial improvement is clearly marked out in Beach’s How Do You Know?
Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University


"Beach outlines the kind of curriculum that has long been needed to clarify the mysteries of intellectual culture, a culture that otherwise will remain a secret society reserved for the few.  It won’t help students much to learn masses of factual information unless they learn “how to use” that information, which for Beach (drawing on the important work of psychologist Deanna Kuhn) means being able to use what they know to make arguments, which includes assessing the arguments of others.  This argument literacy lies at the core of Beach’s proposed critical thinking curriculum for the 21st century, and nobody I know has said all this better than has Josh Beach in this book."
Gerald Graff, Emeritus Professor of English and Education, University of Illinois at Chicago, and 2008 President, Modern Language Association of America


"A giant step towards a comprehensive theory of literacy that would help to explain its role in the shaping of mind and society." 
David R. Olson, University Professor Emeritus at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto


"Beach forges a wide and studious path across much of philosophy, science and psychology in an effort to answer the question of how we can know.  His answer -- to commit to open argument, grounded on values of truth and freedom -- doesn't resolve all concerns. But I agree that it is the best one we have, and today's world makes it more urgent than ever that we embrace it."         
Deanna Kuhn, Professor of Psychology and Education, Teachers College at Columbia University


“This is a book that calls for a wide readership – basically, anyone interested in the role of critical and rational thinking in a democratic society, the compelling need to teach individuals to make discerning evaluations of the array of information encountered, and the importance of understanding the premises of scientific theories, methods, and empirically grounded claims. Providing a sweeping (and deeply engaging) historical, philosophical, and cultural context for his argument, Beach makes it clear why an expanded definition of literacy must include a focus on how we know what we know, what psychologists call epistemic cognition. Such a definition of 21st century literacy would be an invaluable one for the muddled and complicated times in which we are living.  Seldom is a book of such scope and depth so imminently readable and engaging.”
Barbara Hofer, Professor of Psychology, Middlebury College


“Beach helps us understand how in a pluralistic society we got to culture wars, alternative facts, the era of post truth, spin and fake news and how to develop an interdisciplinary approach to knowing, judging wisely and acting skillfully.  He explores the relationships amongst subjectivity, biology, culture and the objective world.  Since we can’t trust our subjectivity, our biological brains, cultural influences, authority, or the news, Beach asks what do we do?  How do we distinguish sophistry from truth?  For practical, critical thinking to succeed, it needs to incorporate the foundational elements of science:  empiricism, rationality, and open debate.  Beach proposes that to have respectful democratic deliberations, we need an education that helps us critically understand and evaluate our knowledge and premises about value, offering a way to knowledge and out of our divisiveness."      
Robert Frank, Professor Emeritus of English and Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Oregon State University


"This book makes a critical intervention into a very old problem: what does it mean to be an 'educated' person, to be a citizen in the classical sense? Working in a vein that stretches back from Richard Rorty through John Dewey to Horace Mann, Josh Beach offers pragmatic solutions to the question posed by The Uses of Literacy for 21st century Americans." 
John Cline, Lecturer in Engineering Communication, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin


Gateway to Opportunity?  A History of the Community College in the United States


"Josh Beach is a courageous visionary among those who seriously consider the community college and its place within the larger U.S. system of higher education. This book reflects both his critical nature and the boldness he brings to analyses of higher education.  It paves new ground for re-envisioning the community college and the larger educational system of which it is such a critically important element." 
Robert Rhoads, Professor of Higher Education and Organizational Change, University of California, Los Angeles


"I think this is a thought-provoking book, in the sense that it asks us to think hard about why we construct educational institutions that are so contradictory, and checkered in their outcomes. It’s a 'big' book — it asks us to think expansively about what a particular educational institution accomplishes — and we have too few of these." 
W. Norton Grubb, David Gardner Chair in Higher Education, University of California, Berkeley


"Beach's Gateway to Opportunity? does a fine job of outlining the dilemmas community college administrators face now, the dilemmas they and historians and policy makers need to chew over.  It asks us all to think long and hard about the educational institutions we create and why they seem so contradictory." 
W. Norton Grubb, Forward to Gateway to Opportunity


"Policymakers would do well to take seriously the well-documented and somewhat disturbing findings in J. M. Beach's Gateway to Opportunity?  This book not only raises important questions about the educational practices and effectiveness of community colleges historically, it also provides detailed analyses and case studies that should inform policy debates and decision-making in the twenty-first century.  Educators, researchers, administrators, and government officials concerned about the future of community colleges, and U.S. higher education in general, cannot afford to ignore J. M. Beach's findings and conclusions." 
V.P. Franklin, University of California Presidential Chair, Distinguished Professor of History and Education, University of California


"Josh Beach expertly uses the lens of history to provide a penetrating and insightful account, examining the challenges facing community colleges.  Some will find this an uncomfortable read, but all will find it thought provoking.  Its detailed history and analysis of community colleges is not used to reinforce their current practices, but opens up the 'long conversation' and demands in us a reconsideration of what they might be." 
Martin Jephcote, Senior Lecturer, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences, England


"J. M. Beach critically and comprehensively reexamines this well-worn territory in an effort to connect the origins of community colleges with the institutions that they have become in today’s higher education milieu…Beach elucidates provocative questions that educators, colleges, and policy makers must consider…This book provides thoughtful background for conversations on how community colleges can again change and, perhaps, become institutions that support rather than undermine increased justice, equality, and humanity in society." 
Harvard Educational Review (Winter, 2011)


"A well-researched critique of the history of the community college - one that will prove valuable to faculty trying to understand the critical issues facing the community college as it moves into the second decade of the twenty-first century.
Keith Kroll, Teaching English in the Two Year College (March, 2012)


"A concise survey of the longstanding debates over these two prongs of the community college mission…Although the book seems primarily intended for policymakers and administrators, Gateway to Opportunity nevertheless makes two important contributions to the history of the community college…First, Beach extends The Diverted Dream into the more recent past… Second, Beach emphasizes racial segregation to a greater extent than Brint and Karabel.
Scott Gelber, History of Education Quarterly (Feb, 2012)


"Beach’s focus on the community college as an evolving social institution offers a perspective not found in earlier literature… a concise treatment of its subject with numerous references to many important articles and texts… Approaching the community college as a social institution offers a perspective that should be used more often to better understand the development, changes, and dilemmas in the history of this uniquely American experiment in postsecondary education." 
Douglas A. Smith, Community College Review (July 2011)


"An interesting portrait of the community college present and past.  Beach’s thesis is on target." 
Philo Hutcheson,  Community College Journal of Research and Practice (March, 2012)


"An excellent contribution to the history of community colleges...Beach offers a fresh analysis of the “institutional complexity and contradictions of the community college”, which is the central focus of the book...The book offers a very important contribution to this topic by discussing how racial segregation existed in community colleges. Beach points out how previous scholarship on the history of community colleges has largely ignored racial segregation in community colleges...Much can be learned from A Gateway to Opportunity about the dilemmas that shape community college history and future.
Aaron Modica, Education Review/Reseñas Educativas (May 3, 2012)


"Beach's book is an aid for educational professionals and policy makers who want to make sense of the history behind community colleges and to better understand the potential for the future…[It is] an excellent historical backdrop for further conversations to improve future outcomes of community colleges…This book is well-written, although it is easy to get lost in the detailed nuances of some historical events and lose the larger view. I recommend this book; it displays ,the historical viewpoints of this social institution and can help decision makers understand the implications of their decisions." 
Ryan R. Nausieda, Comnnunity College Enterprise  (Spring, 2012)



Harvard Educational Review

Community College Review

Teaching English in the Two Year College

Community College Journal of Research & Practice


Children Dying Inside: A Critical Analysis of Education in South Korea


"I found this book to be an excellent read for anyone with an interest in broadening their understanding of the cultural, financial and political factors in South Korea which have created a privatized education market and the implication it is having on this nation’s youth.  Moreover, this book is for educational leaders who are not willing to accept that American schools are failing at face value and are passionate about making informed decisions about how to improve them.  This book is for anyone who is concerned with the current political climate in the United States to privatize our public education system based solely upon standardized test scores that would allow free and competitive market forces to determine the future of our children’s education." 
Terese M. Boegly,  AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice (Feb, 2014)


General Acclaim


"Beach is brilliant, possibly the most brilliant undergraduate and master’s student whom I have taught in thirty years of teaching.  His intellect is a rare combination of analytical attention to detail along with a remarkable synthetic ability and a passion for “the big picture.”  His interests and competency range over a wide intellectual landscape: literature, philosophy, religion, history, rhetoric, cultural theory, poetry, and politics...Beach is a multi-disciplinary thinker." 
Marcus J. Borg, Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture, Oregon State University, 2002


"Beach is sui generis and not an easy man to write for because his activities are so diverse and his interests and skills to many and varied.  He is also not the sort of fellow who does anything in a conventional way.  But he is one of the most passionate, caring, and thoughtful people I have run into... I believe that Beach has something to contribute to literature and thought.  His poetry is occasionally quite beautiful, his writing shows flashes of true insight and brilliance, but the whole is subservient to a vision of the world and a way of thinking that is completely personal." 
Robert A. Nye, Thomas Hart and Mary Jones Horning Professor of the Humanities and Professor of History, Oregon State University, 2002


"Beach might well be the brightest student with whom I have worked; he certainly is the most intellectually curious, ambitious, and intellectually aggressive...He is also an autodidact...He is a prolific writer...For Beach reading, critically thinking, searching, writing, and living a full life are all of a piece.  His academic life is not an academic exercise or process...[He has] an energetic curiosity, indeed, craving for sense and significance, and the concomitant omnivorous reading (s) that often results in fresh perspectives and multiple readings... Beach is self-confident but not arrogant, amazingly wide-read without being pedantic, and challenging but not confrontational." 
Robert Frank, Professor of English, Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Oregon State University, 2002


"Beach's industry, dedication, and commitment to excellence are truly extraordinary...What is by far most remarkable about Beach is his amazing industry and independence of mind.  I've never seen anything like it." 
Robert Wess, Professor of English, Oregon State University, 2008