…summer reading recommendations…

Hello edugleaners,

This past month I have had the pleasure of listening to a series of podcasts from my Superintendent discussing reading lists for this summer.  His podcast can be found in iTunes starting at podcast number 179.  As the ‘traditional’ school year is winding down, summer hobby time is winding up.  Teachers are busy creatures, so summer can be the time to peck away at the titles we have come across during the year.

Since I listen to his podcast every week I thought I’d send in a few titles for consideration.  These are three recommendations I sent him to include in his book review.  Here are a few of my favourite reads over the past while:

The Element: Why Finding Your Passion Changes Everything written and read by Sir Ken Robinson. This book is pretty much a ‘must read’ for any educator looking to partner with students – trying to see them grow into their live calling & passion.  As an Education expert, Robinson articulates what good teachers are able to do: open their students’ eyes to a grater world that awaits them.  This book is a non-Christian take on what our Global Citizenship Program (GCP) program strives to do:

  • help kids find their God-given gifts & abilities
  • help kids find their passions, and
  • help kids find ways to serve their world for the kingdom of God
I gave The Element to my high school staff this past June.  I felt the theme & ideas shared in this book were powerful enough to help shape where I want our school to go.  As educators, really, we need to be in the process of allowing our students to come alive – to find their passion – to try/ask/fail/learn/grown into their vocation & life path.  This book helped me see each individual student as an individual.  And, it reminds me to celebrate them each day.

Another book I highly recommend is Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? written & read by Seth Godin.  Everyone should read at least one Seth Godin book in their lifetime…and if only one, then this is it.  I have made a personal declaration to read every book he writes (Note: I am also doing this for Malcolm Gladwell *read the next book review, and Sir Ken Robinson *read the previous book recommendation, and haven’t yet publicly declared this for C.S. Lewis yet…).

Linchpin is for anyone looking to increase their circle of influence at work, home, or community.  It really pushes the reader away from laziness & fear and pushes them towards personal mastery.  It talks about finding the areas or space that exists between the lines of your job description and makes a case for going beyond the physical labor of your job to the emotional labor of giving ‘gifts of creative work’ to those around you.  Really, this is a must read for people looking to take their personal role, influence, and leadership to the next level.

The above two books are great reads, but my top book in the 24 titles I’ve read on Audible.com which sits a-top my ‘most recommended reading list’ is Outliers: The Story of Success written & read by Malcolm Gladwell.

Arguably, I would read Gladwell for his writing (and narration – he reads all his own audio books and heaven knows I love books narrated by the authour).  But it is his take and synthesis on common questions that really had (and have) my thinking.  Outliers‘ subtitle is: The Story of Success.   Gladwell does a masterful job at challenging the everyday notions of success while considering a different topic or case study each chapter.  He looks at why most professional hockey players have birthdays in the first 1/3 of the year; he considers the 10,000 hour rule and shows it at work in the lives of The Beatles, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates; he considers cultural implications regarding communication, power differentials, and levels of entitlement; and he also looks at length of school year, the language of counting, and cultural background as contributing factors to why some students are better than others at Math.

I have listened to this book three times on audio – and doing this short review makes me even more excited to read/listen to it again.  I own all his titles for my eyes and ears respectively yet I still have Blink and The Tipping Point on my ‘next-reads’ list.  I love his style and his delivery.  Check out his Ted talk or YouTube videos if you’d like to get a flavour.

The ideas shared in Outliers are ones I think about daily as I work with individuals trying to ‘achieve’, ‘make it’, and ‘do better’…  Really, I think about them most when I’m honest about my own life since so many of Gladwell’s conclusions have a link to self-discipline.

If you do happen to read Outliers, or any of his other best sellers – I’d love to chat with you about your key gleanings & take-a-ways!

So, have you read these?  If not, check them out – I think they’re great.  If so, would you please post your key gleanings or take-a-ways?  I’d love to hear what you found meaningful in them.

God bless, and happy reading this summer!  See you on Twitter!


4 thoughts on “…summer reading recommendations…

  1. Pippa Davies

    Hi Paul,
    Thanks for your post and recommendations on summer reads! i am definitely going to read Linchpin as I have not read any of Seth Godin’s books! I loved Outliers, and found Gladwell an easy author to read, because he mixes business, common sense and his own stories with such style. His other books are also on my to read book shelf. Hmm too many to choose from:) Have a wonderful summer and thanks for all you do in our learning commons Paul! Blessings Pippa

    1. eduglean Post author

      Yes, reading time is just around the corner. I’ve yet to read Blink and What The Dog Saw, but I now have them on audio so that will make things more ‘readable’ for me. Stay tuned – this week I’m going to post my 10 summer reads – a bit of everything in there! Thanks for reading, and for taking the time to comment. Paul

  2. Erin

    Thank you for stopping by my blog and your comments on Outliers. I greatly respect your opinion and agree with what you have shared. While I do believe that a lot of his conclusions are rooted in self-discipline, I felt that the core of his findings was a strong support system and a great deal of luck. In each story/case study, Gladwell emphasized that the success of that individual was strongly rooted in a supportive and embracing family unit and/or community. I believe these things are highly correlated – self discipline is most often taught as a moral value during your upbringing (either in your family, community, or schooling). However, working in the environment I do (inner city elementary/middle school students who are homeless or severely impoverished), I also saw what was beneath Gladwell’s findings: a truth my coworkers and I fight against every day: my students, my babies, are handicapped in ways we could never fathom. Not only does society look down upon them, but now “research” is showing them they can never be successful simply because of the environment they were born into. I don’t disagree with Gladwell, but rather choose to hold to the truth that there are many other factors that play into a person’s success. Just because one of my students doesn’t meet his recipe for success, doesn’t mean they will not rise above their current situation and shine.

    Thanks for entertaining a different point of view. 🙂

    1. eduglean Post author

      Erin, I have spent a long time thinking about your comment. Thank-you for it.
      Although I also work with children (as a teacher and principal), I do not have the same degree of hands-on experience that you do with children at risk. I appreciate your words and trust in the greater aspects of life that for some, for those long-lost kids who have every statistic pushing agains them, that they would find themselves, as Aladdin makes such a great reference here, as a “Diamond In the Rough”.
      Isn’t this why we work with kids – to be encouragers, coaches, listeners, positive role-models? Perhaps even just one child will raise above their expected outcome… How humbling and rewarding would it be if that miracle happened in some part through our contributions?
      So, here’s to the Outliers-in-the-rough that we work with, the ones who, through any means, quoting you, will ‘rise above their current situation and shine’.
      Bless your work in your situation. Paul


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