GLP Summer Reading List 2015

Here it is! GLP’s summer reading list is ready to go--whether at the beach, in your office or snuggled up, we think you’ll find these books are as entertaining as they are inspiring and informative. And all are highly readable. We hope you enjoy these books as much as we did. Please let us know what you think! And if you missed out on our list from last summer, check it out here.

Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential within us all - Tom and David Kelley

This book made me happy and ready to go to work. David and Tom Kelley hooked me from the start with the most important takeaway: creativity is in all of us. Better yet, it can be developed. The authors write: “Creative confidence is like a muscle--it can be strengthened and nurtured through effort and experience”

Grounded in the principles of design thinking and their experience at the at Stanford and IDEO, the authors showcase examples and distill methods for sparking and practicing creativity. For educators, the transferability to learning design are immediately apparent, exciting and inspiring. And the message is even more profound: our students are born to creativity and there are ways to expand rather than diminish that in learning. For anyone else, the book empowers you to pursue your interests in new ways and with greater confidence. Read it as a leader, a creator, a facilitator and as an individual looking for new ways to pursue and express passions.


Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon? Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the WorldYong Zhao

This marvelous book tells the story of high stakes skill and drill learning through the lens of Chinese history and culture--and leaves us with a much deeper understanding of what we gain and what we lose as we chase test scores in the battle for global educational victory. Yong Zhao, born and educated in China, handles his subject with sensitivity and insight. He acknowledges the efficacy of an ancient Confucian tradition of rote learning to produce the best test scores (owned by 15 year olds from Asian nations and cities) but uncovers the more interesting reality of what has been lost: innovation, creativity, integrity and advancement in research, scholarship and invention. He explores China’s explosive growth and cleanly decouples it from China’s authoritarian educational system--exposing China’s current conundrum--a nation lacking in the capacities needed for a global innovation economy and scrambling to course correct.

Read this book for its history of Chinese culture, its insight, and for its clear and wise counsel for any one interested in better understanding the trade offs in the current educational reform debate. Independent schools will benefit richly; while conformity to a centralized curriculum or assessment model may not be their problem, there is much to recognize and learn from the predicament China’s education system has found itself in and the resulting costs to children and society. A great read for parents too--who wonder at the mainstream media reports about our global standings.


The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession - Dana Goldstein

Emily Bazelon calls Dana Goldstein “one of the best education writers around” and with good reason. The Teacher Wars is a remarkably readable historical account of education in America and how the teaching profession reflects America’s larger political and cultural controversies. Goldstein organizes her material by chapters examining important periods in public education but creates a compelling narrative by “telling” those stories through the lens of the significant people at the center of the action. She looks at the historic roots and earlier experiments with many of today’s “new” reforms to improve teaching and analyzes the causes of their success and failure, closing her 200-year overview with some of the promising trends and critical challenges she sees today. This is a must-read book for anyone who cares about public education.


Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone) - Elizabeth Green

Elizabeth Green, a gifted writer and reporter, has written a thoroughly engaging book about what it takes to develop highly effective teachers. She begins her book with the story of Deborah Ball, now the dean of education at the University of Michigan, who in the 1980’s transformed the teaching of math to young students. In the context of the millions of teachers the United States will need to train in the next ten years, Green makes the argument that good teachers are not “born” or necessarily blessed with personality and charisma but—like any other profession—require intensive and ongoing professional training.

Green’s concludes that we must provide new teachers with “best practices” that are then instilled through intensive, supervised classroom coaching and preparation and that all teachers require ongoing supervision, self examination, and perhaps most importantly, peer collaboration and coaching. It will take a transformation in our schools and long-term commitments to provide the time and support for the coaching and collaboration that builds a better teacher. Even our wealthiest private and public schools have failed, thus far, to provide the type of professional training Green describes. Her report from the front lines is a must read for aspiring teachers and school leaders.