Saturday, April 15, 2017

Joy, Grit, and Empathy: Two Book Reviews

I love reading new books about education. I recently ordered these two:  Embracing a Culture of Joy: Solutions for creating the learning spaces students deserve, by Dean Shareski, and The Formative Five: Fostering grit, empathy, and other success skills every student needs, by Thomas R. Hoerr.

Shareski's book is a slim volume of essays on topics such as The Expectations of School, A Sense of Wonder, and Play as Research.  Shareski is Canadian and it makes me happy that we are having conversations about these ideas and others, here.  He does, however, make reference to books by many international educational scholars, and so my list of books to track down from the library or Amazon grows.

Here are some highlights (the pages to which I adhere neon stickies):

  • Quotes my favourite Harvard guy, Dr. Richard Elmore:  "Accountability must be a reciprocal process.  For every increment of performance I demand from you, I have an equal responsibility to provide you with the capacity to meet the expectation."
  • "Students who wake up each morning excited to go to school may indeed be going to a place where joy is the dominant culture.  It's about safety, belonging and hope."
  • "Perhaps the most important thing we can do in our classrooms to create a greater sense of wonder is to simply value questions more than answers."
  • "When you invite folks to play with ideas, tools, and scenarios, it immediately takes the pressure off failure as the end to learning.  Instead, failure becomes accepted as an element to learning and growing."
  • "Communities provide an opportunity to contribute and find meaning with others, and they honour the social experience."
  • "Learning should be about beauty, wonder, and curiosity."

In The Formative Five, Hoerr gives educators very practical ideas for nurturing empathy, self-control, integrity, appreciation of diversity, and grit.  He recommends stories to read with students of all ages, self-assessments for students to complete, advice for principals, and ideas for letters to home home for families.  This is a great book for BC teachers who want ideas and practical suggestions for teaching to the Core Competencies.

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