Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Three Important Books

I just finished reading Rafe Esquith's Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire. There are many examples given in the book that I would like to try out in my own classroom. I like the property ownership of their desks, building an environment of trust rather than fear in the classroom, and teaching them valuable problem solving skills. There are many more examples. These are a few I want to begin using. To do what this man does every day would take a serious commitment from the teacher. I noticed in his daily schedule that he doesn't have to teach ELD. I wonder how he got away with it when I am forced to teach it for 30 to 45 minutes a day. Two other colleagues are reading the book and I cannot wait to discuss the finer points of the book with them.

A few days ago, I read Malcolm Gladwell's Blink. Everyday examples from doctors to the military to detectives apprehending a "suspect" were given to illustrate the point of the writing. Snap judgments are not always wrong. Unconsciously, we make decisions that we cannot explain, "thinking without thinking" as the second title of the book says. The Millennium Challenge is a perfect example of a situation where the Blue Team had all of the advantages and planned out everything to a tee. Red Team, who lacked as many resources at their disposal, but was able to defeat Blue Team. The book contends that we accept that when an issue or problem has been thought out that the result will be favorable. The book posits that it may not be the case. Gladwell's new book Outliers might be a future read.

Last week, I finished reading The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. I read it more as a history of technology, but came away with a wealth of knowledge on how the "flat" world works. I gained insight in how a business works - especially supply chains, outsourcing, insourcing, etc. I was amazed that UPS of all companies actually provides services for companies other than delivering packages. Walmart's supply chain is very efficient to the point where they have little inventory. I was astonished to found out after we were losing jobs to Mexico due to cheap labor, they in turn lost out to China through even cheaper labor. Friedman gives many solutions to help our workforce transition in this "flat" world.

My next two books will be Grown Up Digital, I am currently on page 40, and Cultural Literacy, another E.D. Hirsch, Jr. book.