Want Alternative Education Books in Malaysia? Head to Borders

I am currently wandering around KL to meet friends, and I’ve been carrying my bulky laptop all day (I’m in the midst of changing accommodation). I’m actually in the top floor of Sungei Wang, loud pop music blasting from one side, and I took out my laptop just to write this:

If you’re in Malaysia and want books about alternative education or school reform, your best bet is Borders in Berjaya Times Square, Imbi.

It’s not very easy to find non-mainstream or non-trendy books in Malaysian bookstores, particularly in regional cities. Kuala Lumpur and Selangor are fortunate in that they have the bigger branches of the major bookstore chains and can afford to carry a wider selection. Still, books on alternative education and school reform are hard to find. The Education section tends to carry books on teaching, revision, or tips on succeeding in school; there aren’t many books questioning the notion of school.

However, Borders in Berjaya Times Square has an EXCELLENT selection of books on alternative education and school reform. I finally managed to snag a copy of Denise Clark Pope’s Doing School, after searching it high and low in other bookstores in Malaysia and Australia and even considering buying it from overseas. They also have books from major alternative education thinkers John Taylor Gatto, John Dewey, and John Holt – basically the “it” people of alternative education. (I’m sure them all being named John is a coincidence.) Among the other books in their in-store collection are:

  • The Overachievers by Alexandra Robbins, about students who strive to achieve as much as possible in academics and extra-curriculars (which Pope also tackles)
  • The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton by Jerome Karabel, about the culture of admissions standards in Ivy League universities
  • and SO MUCH MORE on teaching at-risk children, class and culture issues, school reform, unschooling, homeschooling, and so much more.

I am in a rush, and my battery is dying, so I will come back to add links and a book list to this post or a later post. I will also post a review of Doing School once I’ve read it. You can find some related books in Times, Kinokuniya, and MPH – Kinokuniya in particular has good books on career choices (including Delaying The Real World, which I reviewed here and bought from there) and activism. But for education in particular, Borders can’t be beat.

BORDERS, if you are reading this – please contact me!

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