Books Teachers Share: Larry Ferlazzo and Rules for Radicals

Educator, blogger and author Larry Ferlazzo teaches high school English and social studies, along with English language development, to a mostly English Language Learner population at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, California. He also writes columns for Education Week and The New York Times Learning Network. Ferlazzo said the book that has made the biggest impact on his life is Rules for Radicals, by sociologist and community organizer Saul Alinsky. Written in the early ‘70s as a successor to Reverie for Radicals, Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals presents what Ferlazzo calls “a very pragmatic perspective on how to make change.” Ferlazzo said that reading the book changed the course of his life, and the book stepped in to articulate what he had been feeling about how to make change in communities.
Ferlazzo recently told MindShift how the book has impacted his life as both a community organizer and educator. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Ferlazzo: Rules for Radicals is a non-fiction book written by a man named Saul Alinsky, and it was written in the early 70s. He is sort of considered the father of modern-day community organizing. I was a community organizer for 19 years before becoming a teacher.
But prior to becoming an organizer, I spent seven years as part of the Catholic Worker Movement. The social justice perspective of the Worker is prophetic witness, that you’ve witnessed the world through civil disobedience and nonviolent protests. I …