Three Book Suggestions

[ December 07, 2008 ]

Outliers, the new book by Malcolm Gladwell, is directly related to some of the work we are doing with the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center and the KIPP NYC schools (in fact, the final chapter looks at the KIPP schools and,  Riverdale alumnus,  Dave Levin on of the KIPP founders. Gladwell looks at people who are successful and provides a significantly different view of success–that it is more due to hard work and perseverence than innate ability and that our society is prone to view success as something beyond one’s personal control. I have always believed this and hope that we will, with the aid of some outside researchers, become more intentional in developing these “non-cognitive” capacities in our students. 

I am in the midst of reading The Starfish and The Spider, a book by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckman. It is a book about organizational leadership and the implications for organizations that are “leaderless” or use a much more distributed model of leadership. I think that the hypothesis is rather extreme, but I certainly agree with a more distributed model of leadership where everyone in the organization feel some involvement in the decision making. I have been moving in this way with Riverdale, but I am interested to see how far we can move with this and have the students more engaged in determining with the adults in the community the future of the school. 

Finally, I am reading for a second time a very provocative book Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns by Christensen, Clayton and Horn. This book proposes that new technologies linked with research in neuroscience is actually changing the way that people learn with massive consequences for schools and education. I am very interested in these hypotheses, but I am not clear what are the consequences for a school like Riverdale. If anyone is interested in discussing this book, I would be very happy to set up a book talk about it.


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