PART FIVE: WHAT WE ARE READING
Over the years, I have found that sharing books on relevant research and best practices in education provides a community with a common language to begin dialogue. Toward this end, I have suggested that the faculty, staff, and board read Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner and Good to Great by Jim Collins. I invite the parents to read these books as well so we all can develop a shared language. It is true, that we all will not agree on everything. We will, however, be able to engage in dialogue and develop a shared language that we can utilize next year as we get to know one another.
Tony Wagner’s book Creating Innovators is one of the most popular educational books of our time and has been recently translated into Chinese and Korean. I spent the day with Tony last year at Harvard and we discussed how the importance of stressing innovation as a 21st Century skill. Tony’s work is inspiring leaders around the world to re-imagine how they view children and role that schools play in developing 21st Century skills. Dr. Wagner makes a case that children develop through an educational sequence where play, passion, and purpose emerge as central themes.
Jim Collin’s book Good to Great is probably the most read book in education today. Jim makes a very clear and well-supported case for how good institutions move from good to great. The essential components are simple but difficult to achieve.
In Chapter five, Collins suggests that institutions must understand what they are most passionate about, focus on what they can be the best in the world at, and understand what makes their economic engine work. This vision may seem simple, but the fact is many institutions lose their focus and as a result struggle to become great. We can have some fun and gain some insight reading about how good institutions move to become great institutions. The Good to Great book will be particularly informing during Laurel’s exciting and challenging phase of transition.
Creating Innovators speaks to educational philosophy and pedagogy, and Good to Great focuses on how we will operate as an institution. Together, these books hold the promise of motivating us to create an atmosphere of inquiry and dialogue. I would love for all of us to discuss the books as a community in different forums during next year. In time, these discussions will provide a forum and foundation to envision how we envision the future of the Laurel School.