Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Now, for non-fiction, which separates into the professional and personal categories, the books that relate to my work and those that I am compelled to read for interest.


Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn by John Hattie and Gregory Yates (2014)
This is the most comprehensive, readable, and visionary book on learning I have read.  It’s a must-read for pre-service teachers and those new to the profession.  Hattie and Yates analyze data to support effective pedagogy and to debunk some myths.  You’ve always thought that multi-tasking brings benefits?  Think again.

Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives by Peter H. Johnston (2012), the author of Choice Words.
In this seminal book that every single person with a stake in education needs to read, Johnston demonstrates the link between the language we use daily, whose implicit messages most often escape us, and the mindset we inculcate in our students or children.  The phrasing of questions and statements cultivates either a fixed mindset, he maintains, a black and right world of right and wrong answers and ways of doing things, or a dialogic approach that recognizes the gray, that is uncomfortable with uncertainty, and leaves room for creativity and new knowledge. 
It’s the difference between these statements, Johnston says: ” ‘The three reasons for the Civil War were . . .’ [and] ‘From the perspective of the white male living in the twentieth century, the main reasons for the Civil War were  .  .  .’ ”  In the first case, he says, “there is no uncertainty.  The knowledge is already made.  It is fixed.  There is nothing to be done, no sense to be made, no possibility of agency.” (p.  59)
Johnston cites Ellen Langer to state that people trained in this way “ ‘do not reconsider what they mindlessly accepted as true.’ ”   He goes on to make connections between these mindsets and political and social phenomena of our time.


The Power of Why by Amanda Lang
Amanda Lang, formerly of the CBC’s The Exchange, explains with concrete examples the critical importance not only of asking questions, but of asking the right questions, especially why.

The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King
A Canada Reads selection for 2015 defended by Wab Kinew, The Inconvenient Indian traces the history of First Nations in Canada and the United States.  In this parallel perspective, this book is different from other books on this subject.  King’s language is colorful and straightforward, making this an interesting but disturbing and often shocking read.

Running the Riders: My Decade as CEO of Canada’s Team by Jim Hopson with Darrell Davis
Confession:  I will read anything about the Sasaktchewan Roughriders.  I enjoy all the backstories, in film or video.  Although I enjoyed this book, I wonder why, in the section on the 2008 season, there is no mention of Weston Dressler named as the CFL rookie of the year that year, and getting the opportunity to become a go-to receiver when many receivers were sidelined in an epidemic of broken legs.  That is odd, given the enormous impact Dressler had on the Riders during his years there, from 2008 until just this winter, 2016. 

These books, along with a plethora of articles and comments I read, shaped my thinking during the past months.  If they pique your interest, I know they will also stimulate your reflection.

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