Tenby Educators – Academic Year End

Dear Tenby Educators
Following on from my end of term letter to you all, I promised you some more information here!
As educators who espouse the virtues of ‘lifelong learning’, it is vitally important that we too make lifelong learning a natural part of our day to day life. As educators, we are in a unique position to model the values of the school for our children.
I also happen to believe that this value of ‘lifelong learning’ is a win-win for all of us – growing feels positive, learning is enriching. I also believe that educators share knowledge, so for me that’s the biggest reason why this blog exists.
Vacation time is important for us to recharge our batteries, to reflect on our professional practice and to set goals for ourselves that motivate, inspire and excite. I believe humans are a bit like bicycles – we’re at our best when moving forward and standing still really does us no good at all.
I take this opportunity to share with you my personal selection of great reading, perfect for vacation.

1. Mindset, Carol Dweck
This is a book I’ve been very fond of recommending to both colleagues and parents, ever since I read it for the first time. I believe it deserves to be right up at the top of the reading list. Carol Dweck is a professor at Stanford University. Her book explores, through research findings the impact of the Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset. The starting premise is a simple one, but as the book highlights the implications are massive. Educators and parents who are not aware of the findings in this book can be inadvertently reinforcing fixed mindset that can blight the lives of children as it infects their beliefs about academic abilities, propensity and skill in learning, creativity, sports and physical skills and abilities.
If you choose to read only one of the books on this list, this is the one I recommend.

2. Happier, Tal Ben-Shahar
A small slim book, but one of of my favourite books. The book is a bi-product of Tal’s course that he used to teach at Harvard – the most popular and most attended course there. Yes, indeed, the young under and post-grads of Harvard are smart enough to realise that they can have all the skills, intelligence and ability to get in to one of the world’s great academic institutes, they might be destined for great professional success – but, none of that guarantees them happiness in life. Tal is a part of the ‘Positive Psychology’ movement that is applying the rigour of academic research and thinking to what might previously have been strictly the domain of the self-help movement.
Very thought provoking and well worth exploring.

3. Flow or Finding Flow, both by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
I’ve read both of these books twice, and took something new away each time. Both are fascinating and well written books about how to ‘get in the groove’ so that tasks don’t feel like tasks and we get more done of what we need to do to achieve our goals and aspirations.
These have occasionally provoked some really interesting conversations with students about how to create meaning and purpose in mundane tasks. I talked about how when I had menial manual jobs as a youngster I would set myself targets related to how quickly I might complete a task, how accurately, estimating various aspects and then seeing how close I could get to those estimates. As I did this I found time on task flew by, I avoided boredom, got the job done and felt satisfaction afterwards.

4. Linchpin by Seth Godin
In a changing world, everyone needs to pay careful attention to how they ‘make meaning’ in the world, carve out a niche for themselves and do work that is engaging to them.
On my first reading of this book I found so much that was significant both for us as adults and for children in school, being prepared for life.
In short – it’s about how people make themselves indispensable (and that includes reading and learning!)

5. Disrupting Class by Clayton Christensen
A Harvard Business School professor who has built his reputation on work about how technology does so much more than just lead to incremental changes in any industry, turned his attention to how technology can radically disrupt the field of education.

6. Schools That Learn by Peter Senge
This certainly wins the prize on this list for the biggest and heaviest of the books – maybe a bit too heavy for your hand luggage if travelling. Peter Senge is one of the world’s leading authorities on Systems Thinking. In this book he turned his attention to schools, education and parents. There is an accompanying website that provides more information:
http://www.schoolsthatlearn.com

7. Good to Great by Jim Collins
One of a series of books that looks at companies and organisations from various fields, exploring how they get beyond just merely being good companies or organisations, but become outstanding – and, maybe more important, sustain it.

8. The Leader Within by Stephen Covey
Most people know Covey for the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (and subsequently, the Eighth Habit). In this book he translates the habits in to a set of principles that can be used to create a school culture, following through in some detail some of the first schools in the USA that did so.

9. The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Sir Ken Robinson
The man best known for his groundbreaking TED talk that challenged some of what he perceived as wrong in education today. It’s the most watched TED talk ever and has been the inspiration for many educators to bring meaningful change to schools and their teaching.

10. Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn, or
Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn
A somewhat controversial and provocative, New York based educator who has published many books setting out well-reasoned arguments that challenge some fashionable and accepted orthodoxies when it comes to teaching, schools and parenting. Reading Alfie Kohn’s work leads us to start to question things we may have taken for granted in many ways about children.

Bonuses:

11. Drive, Daniel Pink
As a long time reader of Pink’s books and his blog this book had been on my ‘to be read’ list for quite some time. It’s a fascinating exploration of human motivation. It’s relevant for us to understand our motivation as adults, but also to understand children’s motivation to learn.

12. Giving Voice to Values, Mary C Gentile
I originally received this book as a gift from a professional colleague. Ms Gentile is a professor of Babson College, USA and the book explores the issues of finding courage to lead through values and inspire others. It explores how values can be the driving force for an organisation and for leadership.

Inspiring Leaders

Want to take in a few new ideas on leadership? Looking for inspiration or ways to raise your game to the next level?

Here’s a pretty good list of the 30 leadership writers who are currently considered to be most inspiring and having the biggest impact in the world:

Global Gurus – World’s Top 30 Leadership Professionals for 2016

I’m not sure I wholly agree with the list. For example, I think Robin Sharma a bit too ‘light weight’ to be taken seriously in this company whilst Dr Stephen Covey is still having a massive impact, even after his death, as is Peter Drucker. I also don’t agree with the suggestion that Tom Peters and Jim Collins are mainly only known about in America.

Nevertheless, a good starting point list for anyone looking for ideas.

Stephen Covey on Lifelong Learning

http://www.12manage.com/video.asp?TB=covey_seven_habits&S=8&RS=vn&AC=up&EM=markp.india@gmail.com

Those of us in education will know when we’ve really made a difference – when people like Dr Stephen Covey no longer have to make such statements to adults.

Posted from WordPress for Android

Another Book List

More high quality reading – another great list of business books to enhance personal and professional growth.

Agenda – 30 Business Books Every Professional Should Read Before turning 30

I might be a little past that age right now, but I still think there’s a lot of quality in this list. Personally, I’ve read 13 out of the list so far and have a further 9 of them on my ‘To Read’ list.

Habits – Who’s In Charge?

Many writers and trainers over the years have rightly focused upon habits as a key determinant of success in a person’s life. Of course, Dr Stephen Covey put great emphasis on this in his work with his ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ and subsequent works.

So, I was very interested when I came across this Fast Company article recently;

Fast Company – How to Make Long-Lasting Changes to Your Unconscious Habits

The first thing that struck me was the way that these consultants were working with companies to deal with employee habits at both the individual and collective level. When I thought about it, this made a great deal of sense when you think about the way certain workplace habits become norms passed down between employees without real conscious thought about how well they serve the organisation.

Then, there’s that extraordinary statistic – 40-50% of all that we do in a day is made up of habits – but we just don’t know it! Too often we’re following habits unconsciously, so they are leading us, rather than the other way around. To my mind, the most important act if we want to change our habits or to be master over them is to become consciously aware and questioning about our habits.

We can’t tackle them all, and wouldn’t want to. If you brought every daily habit in to conscious thought, firstly you’d be in significant conscious overload, but secondly, you’d probably disturb and upset lots of very positive habits that serve you very well in getting through the day.

Much to ponder on here.

Then Along Came Pre-Crastination

In the pursuit of doing more, achieving more and generally being more (in the same amount of time), procrastination has been the big bad enemy of productivity and effectiveness for a long time. So, we all set about trying to slay the demon of procrastination. We equipped ourselves with productivity software and other tools, focused on making daily ‘to Do’ lists and all the other tricks that the ‘experts’ said would save us, make us more productive and increase our success.

But, all along, there was another peril lurking that didn’t even have a name – until along came ‘pre-crastination!

Scientific American – Pre-Crastination: The Opposite of Procrastination

Now, usually, logic says if something is the opposite of something bad – then it must be good. However, not in this case. Here, we’re talking about the kinds of tricks we play on ourselves where we put tasks on the ‘To Do list that are easy, enjoyable, fun and sometimes quick – and then do them first! Then, we may get to the end of the day with half the list completed and tell ourselves what a great job we did. After all, look how much of the list got completed!

As the article says – we’re very tempted to grab the low-hanging fruit.

I guess the answer is continuous rigorous self-analysis and honesty coupled with the Stephen Covey maxim to ‘Put First Things First’.

Nobel Prize for Literature – Alice Munro

I have to confess that, a few days ago, when i saw the announcement that this year’s Nobel Laureate for Literature was Alice Munro, I wasn’t familiar with any of her work. However, the article i read about her intrigued me, so I went looking and came across this wonderful short story that was published in New Yorker;

New Yorker – Alice Munro – Short Story

I loved the imagery, the sensitivity to find something good and worthy in all five of the main characters. At the same time, it carries something of sadness – a wistful way that people reach the latter years of their lives having failed to be and do what they had always wanted. I was left remembering the well-known quote from Thoreau – “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

As mankind evolves, shouldn’t progress be about bringing that song out to be sung, not just in ourselves, but also in others. Maybe Stephen Covey was really on to something with his Eighth Habit – find your voice and help others to find theirs.

%d bloggers like this: