Off to the Races

Tomorrow I receive book lists for my MAT program. Or so I’ve been told.


Tomorrow I receive book lists for my MAT program. Or so I’ve been told.

Today I’m reading Fostering Resilient Learners by Kristin Souers and Pete Hall. A day or two ago I finished The Tact of Teaching by Max Van Manen. (I’ll admit to some book multi-tasking.) Some few days before that I finished Writing Without Teachers by Peter Elbow. Before that it was Raising Kids Who Read by Daniel Willingham. And Reading Educational Research. And A Peaceable School. And The Flat World and Education. And Rethinking Rubrics in Writing Assessment. And and and… Next I’m planning on reading Shop Class as Soulcraft (thanks Ed).

That last one was given to me, the physical embodiment of well-wishes from my own former English teacher alongside the recommendation for the Van Manen book. The one I’m reading now was recommended to me by Alex Shevrin after I reached out to her and asked for suggestions. I mention these connections because the reading I’ve done fits into a web of connections and influences. While reading Education and the Commercial Mindset I nearly fell out of my hammock when I came across mention of a fellow Grinnellian RPCV and Columbia University alum (where I was accepted and did not attend). Blogger Paul Thomas has pointed me toward still more books, via direct correspondence and also titles mentioned in his posts. The local library even purchased a book in which he appears on de-grading classrooms at my request. I recently sent some titles his way as well.

I’m looking forward to expanding this network of knowledge. And I’m anxious as well.

When I started at Evoke I struggled to maintain “Beginner’s Mind.” It’s complicated enough of a job that while there are experiences from your past that apply, it’s also critical to be open to learning a new way of doing and a new way of being. There were counter-intuitive lessons to learn. For example, sometimes relating to another person’s story of adversity doesn’t help, namely if you’re inadvertently sending the message, you don’t have to feel that way because you’re not alone. That message invalidates. Whatever feelings the story brings up, feel them. Help the storyteller feel them. Relating doesn’t always have that effect, and be cautious for when it might. But I digress…

I’m better prepared for teaching than I was for Evoke, and however well prepared I am, I don’t think that preparation will invalidate the need for beginner’s mind. So, how will I balance openness to new ways of seeing and thinking with allowing my current perspective its place. And how will I negotiate power and authority in the classroom, where my intention will be to act from a place of equality without denigrating the significant experience and knowledge I’ve acquired? Questions for tomorrow. I trust myself to act in good faith.

Who knows, maybe I will discover extensive book list overlap.

And for the curious, here are the education titles I’ve read:

  • What’s Math Got to Do With It?
  • De-Grading and De-Testing Schools
  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed
  • The Teacher Wars
  • The American Dream and the Public Schools
  • Punished By Rewards
  • The Homework Myth
  • Feel-Bad Education and Other Contrarian Essays on Children and Schooling
  • What Does It Mean to Be Well Educated?
  • The Schools Our Children Deserve
  • Death at an Early Age
  • Letters to a Young Teacher
  • Lies My Teacher Told Me
  • Radical Equations: Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project
  • Philosophical Foundations of Education
  • The Life and Death of the Great American School System
  • The Book of Learning and Forgetting
  • The Little Book of Restorative Discipline for Schools
  • Experience and Education
  • Why Don’t Students Like School?
  • The Power of Their Ideas
  • Education and the Commercial Mindset
  • Designing Groupwork: Strategies for the Heterogeneous Classroom
  • Ethical Issues in Experiential Education
  • Rethinking Rubrics in Writing Assessment
  • The Flat World and Education
  • A Peaceable School
  • Reading Educational Research
  • The Tact of Teaching
  • Writing Without Teachers

[Note: One thing I’m experiencing in attempting to get this blog off the ground is a reluctance to post drafts, or to polish them. This post is, in part, an attempt to lower my standards and therefore the bar to publishing.]

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