Book Cover of At What Cost


    Of Note: Undoing School

    At What Cost: Defending Adolescent Development in Fiercely Competitive Schools by David L. Gleason
    Developmental Empathy LLC, January 1, 2017

    It is well-documented that in the United States, and around the world, rates of adolescent anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and self-injury are rising at alarming rates. In his timely and much-needed book, At What Cost? Defending Adolescent Development in Fiercely Competitive Schools, Dr. David Gleason describes the conditions under which students attempt to learn in many college preparatory high schools. Gleason has interviewed parents and educators in many of these schools who both worry about and decry the levels of dysfunction within their student bodies, yet simultaneously admit to causing their students distress as they create structures and routines that overschedule, overwork, and overwhelm their young charges. Gleason exhorts schools to look for systemic change to relieve some of the pressure they put on students and he outlines framing questions to promote empathy. Additionally, he offers suggestions to create reasonable expectations and structures that are more developmentally appropriate, based in research on brain development, and that do not create the kinds of pressure that undermines student growth, natural curiosity, and joy in learning. Gleason is deeply cognizant of the bind in which educators and parents may find themselves, but his message is practical and solution-focused with sections on scheduling, sleep, homework, and executive function. Many independent schools will find that this book resonates with them and might find parts useful for reading with particular constituencies as they look at their school through the lens of student wellness.



    Submitted By Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM


    Article Screenshot from the Global and Mail on 5-11-18


    More than Knowing

    A Word to the Wise:  Why Wisdom Might Be Ripe for Rediscovery by Jonathan Rauch
    May 11, 2018

    It may be intuitive to all educators that wisdom is a precious human quality, distinct from any other ways of knowing. It is also affirming to see that researchers have made recent strides in developing a definition of wisdom and its component parts because, with this information in hand, teachers and parents can be better equipped to foster, shape, and directly teach for wisdom. Jonathan Rauch of the Brookings Institute writes about the importance of this research for those who want to contribute to the development of a civil society. He makes it clear that wisdom is not just knowing more; it also entails a package of traits that include not only intelligence or expertise, but also empathy and action. He makes the case for learning how to teach wisdom by pointing to the individual and collective merits of having wisdom’s positive attributes spill over, making life better for all. With a now-more-than-ever urgency, he points to evidence that people in wise-reasoning mode are more positive, see others' points of view more easily, are better self-regulated, and are more forgiving. Then he asks the big question for those prioritizing curriculum, use of time, and values for schools: Has any healthy society ever asked for less wisdom?


    Submitted By Elizabeth Morley, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada


    New York Times Article Screenshot from 4-5-18 on Project Based Learning


    A Call to Imagination

    Building Skills Outside the Classroom With New Ways of Learning by John Hanc
    New York Times, April 5, 2018

    In this concise article, John Hanc explores "innovative school programs and their partners [as they] seek to reimagine the educational system in the 21st century." Without going into much depth on any of these programs in particular, he overviews and highlights some interesting educational innovations across the country: Mayfield Innovation Center (at Mayfield City Schools in Cleveland), Project Lead the Way (a nonprofit in Indianapolis), Toyota’s internships and other recruitment programs for students, career-themed academies in Pasadena, Pathways to Teacher Diversity in Massachusetts, and City-as-School High School in New York City. The emphases are essentially project-based learning, community and industry partnerships, and diversity. Hanc observes that many of the innovative programs he uncovers are STEM-oriented (with the related labs, studios, and advanced technologies), but the larger theme here is inquiry. Hanc quotes the Mayfield City Schools superintendent, Keith Kelly, who says the innovation center there is "about getting kids involved in inquiry, in solving problems, in partnerships, in authentic projects that may be of interest to them." These ideas aren't especially new, but they are finding new forms. Hanc's quick compilation of program examples offers a provocation for independent school educators, as we assess our own schools' programs and innovations against the changing times. The challenges, to which Hanc alludes without naming, are in many ways logistical; the charge, a call to imagination.



    Submitted By Meghan Tally, Windward School, Los Angeles, CA


    Book Cover of The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath


    After the Indelible

    The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impactby Chip Heath and Dan Heath
    Impact Hardcover, October 3, 2017

    Independent schools are often distinguished from other school types by their strong cultures, marked by traditions, rituals, and ceremonies. In The Power of Moments, the authors, brothers who are professors at business schools, aim to change corporate culture to include such practices as a way to enhance business outcomes. Although educators are not their intended audience, the Heath brothers offer recommendations, often backed by studies in social psychology, that could help schools to assess established cultural practices. Their focus is on studying the commonalities of "defining moments," described as short, crystallizing experiences that are both memorable and meaningful in shaping behavior. In analyzing the commonalities of defining moments, the authors uncover four characteristics that include elevation, insight, pride, and connection, and while all four do not have to be present in every gathering or experience, each of these characteristics can contribute to impact. Additionally, such "moments" can be of varying duration – a year, a month, or even a moment – but their effect may be indelible. The book is both thought-provoking and entertaining, a departure from readings about education, and it could make for a good summer read.


    Submitted By Pearl Rock Kane, Klingenstein Center, New York, NY


    Book Cover of So You Want to Talk About Race


    Is It Really About Race?

    So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
    Seal Press, January 1, 2018

    Talking about race is not easy. But talking about race is the first step in dismantling systemic racism, argues Ijeoma Oluo in her impactful new book, So You Want to Talk About Race. In 17 chapters with questions as their titles, Oluo directly answers the questions she is most often asked. For example, "Is it really about race?" (if it disproportionally affects people of color, yes), and "What if I talk about race wrong?" (it's ok, talking about race is uncomfortable and necessary). Oluo's explanation of privilege is particularly nuanced, covering any and all advantages that one has and others do not. Another way of thinking about privilege, she says, is to ask yourself, "who doesn’t have this same freedom or opportunity that I’m enjoying now?" In chapter 13, "Why are our students so angry?", Oluo says that students are angry because they see inequality in the systems in which they and their families live. Further, she states, "Our kids have seen that, no matter what individual progress we make, the system remains." In Oluo's view, the call to actively engage students in race talk at school is clarion.



    Submitted By Jessica Flaxman, Nashoba Brooks School, Concord, MA


    Book Cover of The Guide for White Women who Teach Black Boys


    As Uncomfortable as They Are

    The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys by Eddie Moore Jr., Ali Michael, Marguerite W. Penick-Parks
    Corwin, October 1, 2017

    The recent Philadelphia Starbucks arrests, where a White female manager called the police to arrest two Black male customers, is just a recent example of the historically racialized relationship between White women and Black men in American society. It is a contentious relationship driven by fear, violence, and the privileging of Whiteness over Black experiences. This same racialized dynamic is the context for American education. White women make up the majority of educators, and Black boys are one of the most vulnerable demographic groups in schools. How do teachers begin to recognize these inequities, as uncomfortable as they are, in order to better serve Black boys? The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys provides a first step. The book is a thought-provoking anthology of researched articles, personal testimonies, questions for purposeful self-reflection, and classroom strategies for all educators to begin recognizing our own individual frameworks for understanding, respecting, and connecting to Black boys' experiences. The authors lead readers on a personal journey that closely examines the racialized, historical, and political context of the White Women/Black Boys power dynamic while highlighting the diversity of Black boys' experiences and identities. This book is not only a must-read for personal and institutional reflection about race and Black boys' experiences in schools, but also it provides educators a powerful tool to better serve and understand all students.



    Submitted By Tina Yen, Abington Friends School, Jenkintown, PA


    Book Cover of Little Soldiers


    A Child's Schooling, A Parent's Chronicle

    Little Soldiers: An American Boy, a Chinese School and the Global Race to Achieve by Lenora Chu
    Harper Collins, January 1, 2017

    When journalist Lenora Chu and her husband relocated to Shanghai for work, they made the choice to enroll their son in the Chinese equivalent of pre-K, and they thought they had a decent idea of what awaited him. Finding herself sometimes delighted, sometimes disquieted by aspects of her son's experience, Chu embarked on a multi-year journey to chronicle her child's education and development through a parent's eyes. In Little Soldiers, she details that experience while also looking at the Chinese culture of education as a whole. Chu is forthright about her struggle to reconcile that which is appealing about the Chinese early education system with those aspects that bristle with her more "American" sensibilities about individuality, creativity, and free will – ultimately landing in a place that sees both value and detriment in aspects of Chinese and American ways of schooling. A key takeaway relates the role that sustained, deliberate effort plays in academic achievement in Chinese culture versus American culture. Educators who work with Chinese international students or American-born children of Chinese immigrants will find Little Soldiers both entertaining and insightful for its window into the systemic, familial, and cultural factors  that come to bear on a child in China, and how those factors may impact his/her experiences at school.


    Submitted By Eileen Neville Marceau, Tabor Academy, Marion, MA


    Book Cover of The Death of Expertise


    Fake Out

    The Death of Expertise by Tom Nichols
    Oxford University Press, March 1, 2017

    "But how do we know Caesar really even existed?" While the question could be probing how we obtain knowledge, it also implies a distrust of history books, of teachers, and of the entire Western tradition. But in The Death of Expertise, Tom Nichols claims that this arrogant skepticism is not isolated but instead growing. We no longer view expertise as an ideal, especially as the gulf grows between experts and citizens. Although Nichols concedes that human nature itself causes some resistance, he argues that the problem now deepens for three concurrent reasons: higher education treats its students as customers; endless information is available instantaneously; and journalism entertains rather than informs. These circumstances have endowed us with a willful and arrogant ignorance. Much like his ideal of an expert, Nichols offers no single solution but rather insight into the problem. The death of expertise should matter to and inform our school curricula, especially as we attempt to develop informed citizens. We have a responsibility not only to make our students savvy to "fake news," but also to avoid cultivating arrogant skepticism. Moreover, we need to be mindful of how the shape of education can implicitly value (or not) expertise. In short, we need to make sure the education we provide doesn’t undermine our own expertise as educators.


    Submitted By Cynthia Swanson, Westminster School, Atlanta, GA


    CompetingAgainstLuck


    The Products We Hire

    Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice by Clayton Christensen, Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, and David Duncan
    Harper Business, October 4, 2016

    For the entrepreneur: Why do customers decide to buy one product over another? For the hungry commuter: Why might somone buy a milkshake on his drive to work rather than grabbing a bagel? And for the independent school leader: Why do students and their families decide to attend one school rather than pursuing an alternative option? In the book Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice, Clayton Christensen, the author of Disruptive Innovation, returns with co-authors Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, and David Duncan to elaborate on "Jobs-to-be-done" theory. Jobs Theory, the authors explain, is a framework that aims to explore why consumers hire products and services to perform a certain function – a job – in their lives. Through stories that range from McDonalds' milkshakes to the rise of Southern New Hampshire University, the authors compel readers to critique their own understanding of a jobs' primary function while offering an enlightened view on how we can better understand the competitive landscape within which products and services exist. With implications that range from admissions and enrollment management to student engagement, Competing Against Luck is a captivating read for educational leaders interested in exploring theories in strategic innovation.



    Submitted By Sean Duncan, The Winchendon School | Brooklyn, Brooklyn, New York

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