As teachers, we know the impact reading can have. Not only can reading help students learn, it can improve our own vocabulary and make us more intelligent. It can also help inspire practical ideas that we can use in the classroom.
Reading has been proven to improve relationships and reduce depression symptoms. And according to research published in Science, it can make us more empathetic. It has also been suggested that reading regularly can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's. For an activity that gives so much pleasure, it provides a lot in return.
Whether you’re an English teacher, science teacher, or a school leader, reading has a positive impact on your life. It doesn’t matter if you read fiction for pleasure, or study non-fiction for professional development. With the school year now over and the summer in full swing, now is the time to really step up your reading for 2018.
We’ve been reading the best books for teachers in 2018 at Celsian so that you don’t need to scour the internet for interesting books to read on the beach or at home. Here are 4 of the best books for teachers to read this summer…
1. Seven Myths About Education - Daisy Christodoulou
When Daisy Christodoulou’s Seven Myths About Education was first released as an ebook in 2013, it proved to be hugely popular. So much so that it was picked up by Routledge and published in print the following year.
One thing that can’t be said about Christodoulou’s book is that it plays it safe. Even today, her ideas are controversial. Some even went as far as to call it a “right-wing moan.” But whatever your political opinions, the questions Christodoulou posits are worthy ones to consider as educators.
As a baseline, Christodoulou’s seven myths about education are:
- Facts prevent understanding
- Teacher-led instruction is passive
- The 21st century fundamentally changes everything
- You can always just look it up
- We should teach transferable skills
- Projects and activities are the best way to learn
- Teaching knowledge is indoctrination
Just reading those seven points is difficult for most of us involved in education. They are certainly challenging, questioning critical aspects of teaching.
Essentially, Christodoulou argues that we need to teach kids a deep and broad level of knowledge in all areas, suggesting that role-play focused teaching is a waste of time. Though you may not agree with everything Christodoulou writes, it’s certainly a book that will get you thinking about our curriculum, teaching styles, and what our education system should look like.
Provocative summer reading for teachers who haven’t already engaged with Christodoulou’s work.
2. Creative Schools - Sir Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica
Many of us are already aware of Sir Ken Robinson from his inspirational 2006 TED talk “do schools kill creativity?”. Viewed by over 300 million people across the globe, Robinson is somewhat of a celebrity figure in the world of teaching.
His 2015 book ‘Creative Schools’ is as inspirational, and as thought-provoking as the TED talk, if not more so. In it, Robinson calls for a revolution in teaching. He suggests that the current education system isn’t producing people who are ready for the digital age. The standardised testing introduced by the current government is, to Robinson, not only dated, it is inhibiting creativity and flexibility. As Robinson himself states:
“Our school systems are now a matrix of organisational rituals and intellectual habits that do not adequately reflect the great variety of talents of the students who attend them. Because they conflict with these systems, too many students think that they are the problem; that they are not intelligent, or must have difficulties in learning.”
If we are to take Robinson at face value, it’s hard to disagree with his focus of argument. None of us want our kids to think that it is their fault they are not achieving. Whilst you may not agree with the call for a complete overhaul of the education system as it is today, like Christodoulou’s book, it certainly provokes questions.
3. Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America - Paul Tough
Taking a step away from the UK education system, and looking at projects across the world can make us reassess how we feel about our own classrooms. Paul Tough’s book on Geoffrey Canada’s ‘Harlem Children’s Zone Project’ is certainly a book that does just that.
The Harlem Children’s Zone Project might not be that well known over in the UK. But over in the US, it is a project that is known across all 50 states. Everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Barack Obama back Canada’s project to improve the lives and learning of disadvantaged kids in Harlem, New York. Meanwhile, investors have pumped so much money into the project that it now has a budget most schools in the UK could only dream of.
Tough’s book charts the Harlem project from its very beginning. Canada sought to increase aspiration, learning and disciplined self-improvement for some of the most disadvantaged kids in NYC. The project takes in every aspect of the education journey. From toddlers to high school, there is an intense and thorough focus on high-level learning. Canada even teaches parents techniques on how to improve education at home. Everything is built to help children succeed.
For some, the very thought of telling parents how to behave will incite feelings of discomfort. This is to be expected. But Tough’s book is a compelling read about what it takes to help the most disadvantaged kids achieve a good quality education.
4. Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’ may be a bit of a wildcard, in that it isn’t specifically about teaching itself. It is, however, a book that everybody should read. Many of you may already be aware of Gladwell. Author of a number of insightful books that investigate how the world works, as well as a leading podcaster, his work consistently makes us look at the world in a new light.
Outliers is not Gladwell’s latest release, but for many (including us) it is his best work. The book questions just what makes the most successful people in society so good at what they do. Taking in people from a number of industries and backgrounds, Gladwell’s intellectual escapades will have you wondering how you can apply some of the concepts in the classroom.
Really, Outliers is a masterpiece in critical analysis of success. However you see success, Gladwell’s book will get you thinking, whether you’re on the beach, at home or travelling.
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