Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World by Tony Wagner (© 2012, Scribner: New York, NY) explores what parents, teachers, and employers must do to develop the capacities of young people to become innovators. Tony profiles innovators to identify patterns in their childhood that made them what they are. He shows how to apply his finding to education and tells parents how to compensate for poor schools. Keys include collaboration, interdisciplinary problems solving, and intrinsic motivation. Sixty original videos are included that you can access via a smart phone. Go to Creating Innovators for a trailer, then click the icon below to purchase this vital book from Amazon.
Archive for the ‘Book Summaries’ Category
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants is Malcolm Gladwell’s fourth best selling book to be summarized here. I’ve been a big fan ever since I summarized The Tipping Point. If you like to give books as gifts, please click below and get copies for yourself and your favorite book worms.
- Malcolm has been a staff writer with The New Yorker magazine since 1996. From 1987 to 1996, he was a reporter with the Washington Post, where he covered business, science, and then served as the newspaper’s New York City bureau chief. He graduated from the University of Toronto, Trinity College, with a degree in history. He was born in England, grew up in rural Ontario, and now lives in New York City.
- He is also the author of The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference, (2000), Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, (2005), and Outliers: The Story of Success (2008). They were all number one New York Times bestsellers. Click the above links for my summaries.
Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work (©2013) by Chip & Dan Heath, Crown Business: New York, NY shares research and cool stories that show how our decisions are disrupted by an array of biases and irrationalities. They go on to introduce a four-step process designed to counteract these problems. Their fresh strategies and practical tools will enable you to make better choices at work and beyond. If you want to increase your chances of making the right decision at the right moment, this book is for you. Click the icon at the bottom of any page to buy this important book for yourself and your key colleagues.
Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives by Michael Specter deals with how large sections of our society are in denial about things that science supports. Included are topics like child immunizations, genetic engineering of our food supply, alternative medicine, and race-based medication. The following quote should give you some idea of what to expect:
“Denialism is not green or religious or anti-intellectual, nor is it confined to utopian dreamers, agrarians, or hippies. It is not right- or left-wing; it is a fear expressed as frequently and with as much fervor by Oxford dons as by bus drivers.”
Although the book is science centered, you don’t have to be a scientist to follow it.
Click here to see the excerpted summary of this book.
In the Discipline Survival Guide for the Secondary Teacher, 2nd Ed, (©2011, Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA) Julia Thompson takes on what may be the most unpleasant part of the profession and a top reason why teachers leave. She draws on up-to-date research and theory that can help students become more self-disciplined, goal-oriented, and successful learners as teachers enhance leadership skills. She focuses on student motivation, classroom management, relationships, instructional techniques, safety, and high expectations. This 350 page effort is easy to read and can be used as a desktop reference. My summary contains key ideas, but there is a lot more I left out. Every student teacher, beginning teacher, and veteran teacher with discipline problems should have this at their side. Lots of advice for parents too. As a former secondary teacher and elementary principal, I can assure you most of this applies to students of all ages.
Do You Know Enough About Me to Teach Me? A Student’s Perspective by Stephen G. Peters (©2006, The Peters Group Foundation: Orangeburg, SC.) provides insight from students he gathered during extensive interviews and uses this perspective to let teachers know what they may have missed in college. His goal is to help teachers learn how to care for all students by listening with all their hearts to the voices of students. Click the icon at the bottom of any page to purchase this fine book.
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink (Riverhead Books: New York, NY ©2009) is a must read for educators and parents alike. Dan summarizes current research and does a great job turning it into interesting and understandable prose. Every school should have this on the shelf.
Driven by Data: A Practical Guide to Improve Instruction by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo offers a step by step approach to preparing your students for high-stakes tests while students work to master standards. While you may be hoping for the current testing madness to end, Paul offers a practical way for your school to out perform other schools with similar demographics while the current tests are still with us. Part two includes specific workshop activities for data leaders.
- Paul is managing director of Uncommon Schools, leading six schools in the North Star Academy network that have achieved some of the highest results in the country. He has trained over 2,000 school leaders nationwide, and is the Data-Driven Instruction faculty member for New Leaders for New Schools, an urban school leadership training program.
Physicals or Autopsies?
- Paul likens the analysis of end-of-year and high-stakes state testing to an autopsy where the purpose is to find out why the patient died. He prefers that educators spend their time looking at the results of interim tests and use them to inform instruction. This is similar to how a physician would use the results of a physical to determine treatment and recommend lifestyle changes. Paul also warns that data-driven instruction is not an elaborate stratagem for promoting “test prep.” While he sees many faults in the NCLB testing culture, he is happy to see educators focusing more on accountability for student achievement, and interim assessments hold them accountable throughout the year.
Excellent Interim Assessments
- In order to be effective, interim assessments must be of high quality, which is seldom what you get when individual teachers slap something together at the end of a unit. The tests need to be in place prior to the start of the school year and be available to the teachers. Every teacher at the same grade level or subject should be using the same tests at the same time. This allows teachers to analyze the results together. Paul recommends assessments every six to eight weeks. Too seldom allows weaknesses to go unrecognized. Too often and teachers may not have time for satisfactory analysis. It is also important that teachers be involved in test creation or selection. Paul is ok with purchased tests as long a teachers get to see them. Some vendors don’t allow this in order to maintain test validity.
- The tests are not seen as an end, but as a beginning. This is because they let the teachers know what needs to be taught and the desired level of rigor. When they are given, the results need to be available soon. (Doug: When I taught I always graded assessments the day they were given, and the students got the results as part of the next class. With some kinds of computerized testing, students can see their results immediately.)
Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life by William DeresiewiczFriday, December 19th, 2014
Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz uses abundant qualitative research along with his own experience to paint a picture of a dysfunctional system and offer suggestions for how to fix it. There is serious advice for students and parents so they can avoid the traps the system offers. The system does a disservice to elite students who are almost uniformly wealthy as it screens out children from lower classes. While the rich have always had educational advantages, the disparity is worse than ever. Click the icon at the bottom of any page to purchase this thought provoking book for yourself and any policy makers, parents, and students you know.
- William was a professor at Yale until 2008. He is the author of the landmark essays The Disadvantages of an Elite Education, and Solitude and Leadership, and the book A Jane Austin Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter. He is a frequent speaker on campuses around the country, a contributing writer for The Nation, and a contributing editor for The New Republic and The American Scholar.
- William believes that our elite universities have produced students who are smart, talented, and driven, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose. They are trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they do, but with no idea why they are doing it. His real critique in the book is aimed at the adults who’ve made them who they are. He also aims to help students rescue themselves from the system. Even though it’s aimed a college students, there are good lessons here for high school students, their parents, and educators everywhere.
1. The Students
- The students in this book appear to be the winners of the race that adults have made of childhood. While they appear healthy, beneath the surface we often find toxic levels of fear, anxiety, and depression. Surveys indicate that emotional well-being has fallen to its lowest level in the 25-year history of the study with half reporting feelings of hopelessness, and a third saying that depression has made it difficult to function. There is also an increase in the use of antidepressants, antianxietals, and stimulants like Adderall.
- Starting in grade school they are constantly jumping through hoops that include school work, athletics, music, and other activities that leaves them no time and no tools to figure out what they want out of life. Once they get into a selective school, they often have no idea why they are there. They have learned how to be a student, but not how to use their minds. Most are good at coloring inside the lines with little or no passion about ideas. There life is all about the accumulation of gold starts, and they can’t imagine doing something that can’t be put on a resume. Rather than learning as much as possible, they seek to do as little as possible as long as they get A’s. Most students dress, look, and act the same so what passes for diversity looks more like 32 flavors of vanilla. The selection process produces students who have only experienced success, but this hides the fact they live with a constant fear of failure. They are risk adverse and are increasingly seeking fewer and fewer different majors.
The Standards Movement: Success or Failure? Two articles from Critical Education by Lawrence C. Stedman
- How Well Does the Standards Movement Measure Up? An Analysis of Achievement Trends and Student Learning, Changes in Curriculum and School Culture, and the Impact of No Child Left Behind - V1 No.10 Dec. 20, 2010. http://bit.ly/muBrDO
- Why the Standards Movement Failed: An Educational and Political Diagnosis of Its Failure and the Implications for School Reform – V2 No.1 Jan. 20, 2011 http://bit.ly/mN6vMe