Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention and How to Think Deeply Again

My friend Jenn loaned me this book. That means I read it as a paperback, instead of Kindle-ing it. I read less than 10% of my books in hard copy. This was a perfect one to choose to be part of that 10%.

This is a book about why we are distracted, and the forces at work doing their best to increase our levels of distraction. It’s not a conspiracy theory book, but it is an “open your eyes and know that there are forces at work trying to keep you from being your best” book.

There is nothing shocking about this book, but the way Johann Hari keeps piling it on makes it clear that we have true problems in our society, and most of us, myself included, have big problems we have to overcome as individuals.

Some of my takeaways:

  • I am sad that we are not a nation of readers. I see it. So many people I talk with don’t have the time to read books. Even a five-minute essay is too much for most. I am surprised that magazines like The Atlantic or The New Yorker, with their long and in-depth articles, continue to survive. Hari emphasizes that the world is not simple, and it cannot be understood in brief scannable messages.
  • The best part of the book focuses on how interrupted our lives have become. Most of us do not have time for thought, silence, day-dreaming, reflection, or problem-solving. And interruptions are more disruptive to our thinking than we think. He pushes the idea of flow – one of my favorite concepts and always a goal in my life – and how flow is the opposite of our normally distracted life. “Slowness nurtures attention. Speed shatters it.” (p. 36) “Fragmentation makes you smaller, shallower, and angrier. Flow makes you bigger, deeper, calmer.” (p. 62) 
  • The forces behind the Internet – the engineers and profiteers – are actively trying to get, then keep our attention. Outrage works. People click on outrage. Infinite scrolls work. Rabbit holes work. Be aware and avoid them. “As we get manipulated by the outrage, we become, as a species, less rational, less intelligent, and less focused.” (P. 141) And . . . it’s threatening our democracy.
  • The big societal idea in this book is to ban surveillance capitalism. Like lead paint and CFCs from aerosol cans, it is hurting or threatening to hurt us. Companies who surveil us know who we are and what makes click (literally), and they work tirelessly to manipulate us for purchasing or voting reasons. It’s too much. I think it’s hard to ban – if it’s not Facebook or X developing profiles on us, it’s going to be a foreign entity. I think it’s worth studying, and I need to learn more.

Overall, a fantastic read. Hari put a lot of different ideas together and made an impact through his synthesis. I recommend it highly. (If you’re into books. 🙂 )

You can purchase this book on Amazon by clicking here.

Fish!: A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results

If you have ever been to the Pike Street Fish Market in Seattle, it’s a fun and joyful place. These three authors researched what makes it such a great place to work, and then they started using it as a motivational tool for individuals. This is a super quick read, and here are the four main lessons they learned:

CHOOSE YOUR ATTITUDE – This is a theme in books I’ve been reading in 22 and ’23. It all starts with that.

PLAY – I’ve been criticized for this, but I’m all in. I try to have as much fun as I can in a work day. There’s a time and place of course, but we can laugh and enjoy ourselves. In fact, I think we are far better off when we do just that.

MAKE THEIR DAY – This was a new one for me. Every day, go out of your way to make someone’s day with an unsolicited complement, gesture, or something that will make them stop and marvel. I have this on my goal list as something I can do as a part of my every day routine. I love it.

BE THERE – This is another theme of so many books I’m reading. Be in the present moment. Yoda was trying to hammer that in to Luke’s head a long time ago. (“This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away…to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was.) Be there.

So simple, so positive, so fun, and so life changing. We have the power to do it.

Purchase the book here.

The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy

This is a super fun book. Even though it was published before The Power of Positive Leadership, I read it afterwards. This is written as a fable – a tale of a bus full of positive people with positive energy and their impact on a rather negative man whose life is not going the way he wants it to. I smiled so often while reading it. It’s over the top in terms of of how positive the people on hte bus are, but the lessons are real.

I love rule #1: You are the driver of your own bus. I had a therapist tell me something like that: I am responsible for my own happiness. Victor Frankl figured that out in Man’s Search for Meaning, stating, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Joy, the bus driver in the book, works to help everyone realize that about themselves.

I won’t go into all 10 rules, but they all reinforce the idea that attitude matters. It matters for you, and for those around you. Every day, I aspire to be positive. I know those around me are better for it, but the secret is, I am way better for it.

I’m a fan of this book and recommend it highly.

Click here to purchase.

The Power of Positive Leadership

When I started as superintendent of the Placentia – Yorba Linda Unified School District, they had already adopted the theme of positive leadership for the year. I read Jon Gordon’s Positive Leadership as I explored the theme. Those of you who know me know that I am extremely optimistic and relentlessly positive. Unlike Candide, I do not believe that things just work out for the best. I believe though that if we work hard, and work through failure, we can make things better. I believe in Martin Luther King’s arc of justice idea, and that we will continue, through ups and downs, to build a society where all people are treated equally and where there is true justice. So with that belief in mind, reading Jon Gordon was an absolute pleasure. I’m with him.

Some highlights:

“We are not positive because life is easy. We are positive because life can be hard.” I love that.

“People who experience more positive emotions than negative ones are more likely to see the bigger picture, build relationships, and thrive in their work and career, whereas people who experience mostly negative emotions are more likely to have a narrower perspective and tend to focus more on problems.” I love this as well, and I have always tried to lead this way.

You can purchase the book here.

 

Today Matters: 12 Practices to Guarantee Tomorrow’s Success

My friend Rick Lopez is a devout follower and fan of John Maxwell. Since Rick is probably the most organized and intentional person I’ve ever met in my life, I figured I should familiarize myself with Mr. Maxwell’s thinking.

“Pulitzer prize-winning journalist William Allen White observed, ‘Multitudes of people have failed to live for today. They have spent their lives reaching for the future. What they have had within their grasp today they have missed entirely, because only the future has intrigued them . . . and the first thing they knew the future became the past.’ Hoping for a good future without investing in today is like a farmer waiting for a crop without ever planting any seed.” In other words, today matters. A lot.

Maxwell uses the wisdom of John Wooden and Steven Covey in his emphasis on making today a masterpiece.

Some highlights:

  • Express gratitude to others daily.
  • Focus on your top priority – make sure you get that done. If you have six things on your list, and you just get #1 done, that’s a good day.
  • Take care of yourself  and your body so that you are ready to make the most of the day. “My friend Zig Ziglar asks the question, ‘If you had a million-dollar racehorse, would you allow it to smoke cigarettes, drink whiskey, and stay out all night? How about a thousand-dollar dog?’ Of course you wouldn’t.

So much of what I read encourages us to not dwell on the past, to stop wondering about the future, and to focus on the present moment. That’s the Power of Now. Maxwell does a great job of not just finding peace by focusing on the present moment, but by maximizing our potential by making the most of each day.

One of my new goals is to imitate my friend Rick and make the ideas of this book fundamental to my day each and every day.

You can purchase the book here.

Miseducated: A Memoir

I heard Brandon Fleming speak at a school board member conference this year. He was dynamic and engaging, and he told a remarkable story. I bought his book so I could know even more about his story. Fleming is an African-American who excelled in basketball in high school. In spite of virtually no support from his parents, he earned a basketball scholarship. Then, early in his college career, he sustained a career-ending injury. Left to succeed on his academic merits, he failed miserably. At first.

Fleming tells a beautiful story of hope, perseverance, and giving back.  He shares how, as a black man, he had never heard that black persons were an important part of American history and intellectual difference-making. It speaks to the critical importance of each child seeing that people who look like them matter. As he states, “My life would have been completely different had I known these truths. But I knew them now. And I was ready to do the work of undoing my own miseducation.”

And not only does curriculum matter . . . people matter even more. Fleming rose from the ashes because certain teachers believed in him. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  It was caring people who helped Fleming to do what he has done.

Brandon Fleming tells an important story that all educators should hear. We need to do all we can to do to make each child feel seen, to let them know their culture mattes, and to make sure they know that they matter and they are cared for. Pretty simple really. Except, it’s not.

You can purchase the book here.

 

 

The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance

This is yet another book recommended by Scott Fawcett, inventor of DECADES golf. It’s written by Josh Waitzkin who was the kid featured in In Search of Bobby Fisher movie that came out in 1993. He was a chess prodigy, and though he never conquered the world, he was among the best of the best.  That’s a lifetime accomplishment, right? But after he was done with chess, he moved into Tai Chi Chuan. While there is the peaceful side of the Tai Chi moves, there is also serious competition, violent competition, that is a part of it. Waitzkin became a world leader in that field as well. That alone is a great story, but what he adds in learning theory, what to do in the effort to be truly great, is nothing short of phenomenal. I recommended this book to my Dad, and it’s his new favorite book. 13.5 stars. Mike says, check it out.

Click here to buy this book on Amazon.

Walking in Wonder: Eternal Wisdom for a Modern World

My friend Tom recommended this book to me this year. Tom is a fellow superintendent who plans to retire at the end of 2022. He is a talented leader, a musician, and on top of that, a very reflective person. He found this book meaningful to him as he was embarking upon his new journey of no longer being one of the epicenters of the world of education.

As I write this, I have just finished six months of being retired and not working. While I have dabbled in some consulting things, I already know a few things about this new life that Tom is going to find out. My life is incalculably more sane. I am able to devote my full attention to matters at hand at home. And my email and my phone traffic have decreased by 95%. That’s all beautiful, but it does mean that I am now rarely distracted by pressing matters that take me away from . . . me.

Tom recommended this book because it deals with topics of balance, aging, wonder, the beauty in landscape, solitude, and more.

John O’Donahue is a famous Irish poet. I have been accused by those who love me of being illiterate, and my lack of knowledge of anything O’Donohue has ever done might be exhibit 243B in that case. But that didn’t stop me. But I do recoil a little at poetry. Understand poetry requires a slowness in my mind that I am working on, but I have so far to go on. This book is a mixture of conversations O’Donohue had with others and poems written throughout his life. And like Mikey of Life Cereal fame, I surprised even myself by not just liking it, but truly finding a great deal of meaning in it.

I’m grateful to Tom for the recommendation, and if you’re interested, try it. You’ll like it.

 

Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being

Martin Seligman is on a mission to change the very nature of psychology. While he looks at drugs and Freudian psychology as techniques that can at least mask and perhaps address the problem, he sees positive psychology as a way for everyone to grow. He does not want to treat PTSD, instead he wants to promote PTSG (Post-Traumatic Stress Growth). In his book he defines Well-Being (he used to use the term happiness, but he believes well-being is a better and more inclusive term) as having these five elements:

  • Positive Emotion
  • Engagement
  • Meaning
  • Positive Relationships
  • Accomplishment

And he gives research proven techniques for how we all can improve our sense of well-being. He has worked extensively with the military, and they have adapted his techniques in a big way. He has tried to work with schools and has experienced . . .  just some success. Working with a military structure that has at least some unity is easier than working with nearly 14,000 school districts around the nation.

I wrote a blog post about how I learned about Seligsman’s work and my reflections on its impact. I highly recommend the book, and you can check out my blog post here.

You can purchase the book on Amazon.

Where You Go is Not Who You’ll Be

I became interested in this book after reading about Palo Alto High School and some of the suicide tragedies that occurred in that school in the last ten years. The pressure on our students to go to the right college is extraordinary. The pressure on our most advanced students to get into one of ten to twenty schools is similarly extraordinary. There is not room for all of the amazing students to go to this “elite” set of schools. Yet so many are pinning their hopes on just that. Mr. Bruni’s point is that not only are there other schools that are out there that are great schools, but those schools may in fact be better for students than the “elite” schools. He cites example after example of students who excelled by going to a school that was the right fit for them. 

 

He details examples of students and parents and their sometimes misplaced focus on identifying a certain school with success in life. The book makes perfect sense. I remember applying to college and I knew I would have been happy at any of the schools that I got into. I have friends who’ve attended a wide variety of schools, ranked at different levels on the rankings that are out there, and the success of my friends often bears little resemblance to what people would predict based on the colleges they attended. Two of my most successful friends did not even go to college, and they are wildly successful. Again, in this theme of books about the pressures on our students, it’s a great book for our students and our parents to read.  It sits on my bookshelf in my office highly displayed, because I absolutely love and believe in the title. Again, highly recommended.

 

Unselfie : Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World

This is a book that our middle school vice principal Margot Parker asked our parents to read and led a book group discussion on it. It explores the idea that in this digital age, students are often hyper-consumed with themselves. I am reminded of that classic YouTube video of the college girls at the professional baseball game who spent about three minutes doing nothing but taking selfies of themselves, leaving the announcers rather dumbfounded at what was going on. What this culture of narcissism does is keep us from focusing on anyone but ourselves. That means a world without empathy. Ms. Borba laments this development, and talks about how we can help students to see the world beyond themselves, develop empathy and therefore make a better world for themselves. An important idea that’s hard to argue with.

 

 

Truman

Truman, by David McCullough (1992)

I am in awe of this ordinary man who became an extraordinary leader. (I’m also in awe of David McCullough, and I’ll read anything he writes.) Some of my favorite quotes:

  • “An optimist was a person who thinks things can be done.  No pessimist ever did anything for the world.”
  • Near his death, Truman was asked by someone if he read himself to sleep at night.  His answer, “No, young man. I like to read myself awake.” I love that spirit.  Give ’em hell Harry.

 

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Tribe is a compelling book that speaks of the isolation and independence of humans in the modern world but particularly in the United States and the potentially harmful impact that that has on both individuals and society. The book opens with some historical accounts of Americans who were captured by Native American tribes and when they were “rescued” they did not want to return to their former communities. They felt more part of something in the new culture than in the independent and isolationist American culture they had been kidnapped from. Similarly, Sebastian Junger talks about how soldiers who return from combat situations have a difficult time returning to home in the United States. A third example he gives is of communities who were under siege and the impact that siege had on them. Whether it be the Germans’ bombing of Britain in World War II, or the Americans’ bombing of Germany in World War II. The impact was the same. The bombings made the communities stronger and more resilient than ever, and the incidences of depression and suicide went down tremendously.

 

Under duress, communities bond and work together, reverting to the way humans used to be prior to this movement towards isolationism. The incidence rate of PTSD in the United States is higher than any other civilization in the world, he theorizes because the isolationism here is so distant from the camaraderie and collegiality and interdependence of a combat or threatening environment. He looks at how in the last 300 years, we have gone from a totally collaborative group/tribe/community culture to a highly independent one, and our evolutionary selves have not caught up with that change.

 

What’s the point? He encourages us to think about how we can create our own tribes. For most of us, our tribe is our nuclear family. That’s it. Can we make that bigger either at work or in our neighborhoods or among our friend groups? It’s a thought-provoking book that has implications for team building, friendships, neighborhoods, nations, and families.

 

 

Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor

A major premise of this book is that the higher the leadership position, the less honest feedback the person receives. Their remedy: free flow of information and finding ways to hear directly from all levels of the organization. It’s about abandoning ego, hearing good and hard feedback, and giving the same.

 

 

 

Switch

This is a very cool, cleverly written book. Written by two brothers who are professors at Stanford, they look at how people accomplish change. An old topic (and my favorite) with a new twist. It’s centered on the idea that humans have two sides: a rational side (the rider) that plans and knows what is best, and an emotional side (the elephant) that actually get things done. The Heaths push us to make sure that the elephant and the rider are in sync, so that things can actually happen. Some of my favorite ideas:

  • Don’t blame people first. Look and see if it’s the situation that needs fixing.  If the elephant and the rider disagree on what to do, the elephant will always win.  For change to happen, you have to (1) direct the rider, (2) motivate the elephant, and (3) shape the path.
  • Find the bright spots. This is a great way of directing the rider. Knowledge or theories do not change behavior. Showing others the bright spots can give hope. (Hunger in Vietnam)
  • “Solutions-based therapy.” If a miracle happened while you were sleeping, and all of your troubles were resolved . . . when you wake up in the morning, how will you know?  Big problems are rarely solved with big solutions.
  • Script the critical moves. Too many choices lead to decision paralsis. The Food Pyramid does not work. “Until you can ladder your way down from a change idea to a specific behavior, ou’re not ready to lead a switch.”
  • Point to the destination. Call your students “scholars”. BHAGs. Destination postcards.
    • “When you’re at the beginning, don’t obsess about the middle, because the middle is going to look different once you get there. Just look for a strong beginning and a strong ending and get moving.”
    • Shrink the change
    • If a task feels too big, the elephant will resist.
    • Hope is elephant fuel.

 

 https://www.amazon.com/Switch-Change-Things-When-Hard-ebook/dp/B0030DHPGQ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=34MN88WZ1LU9E&keywords=switch&qid=1669516945&s=digital-text&sprefix=switc%2Cdigital-text%2C173&sr=1-1

Steve Jobs

I downloaded this on the first day it was available. I said at the TEDx conference that I think Steve Jobs will go down as one of the great educational heroes of the 21st century.  He may be responsible for actually changing the way the classroom looks – something no one else has done.  By putting education into the hands of students, he may be the one who makes this change happen. Although I am “bilingual” (I used Macs and PCs interchangeably), I am a fan. I owned the very first Mac in 1984 and I have always admired the creativity, simplicity and beauty of Steve Jobs’ creations.   

 

My big takeaways from the book. He was personally involved in so many steps. He did not delegate any final decision making. He did it all.  His standards were incredibly high, and anything that did not meet his standard was described as lousy. Finally, he thought that design was critical, and would never stop until he believed the design was perfect. This is a great and inspirational book.

 

 

 

Spark. The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

This is a pretty interesting read. Written by the same guy who wrote the ADHD Classic, Driven to Distraction, this book talks about how our bodies must have excercise to properly nourish and replenish our brains. There’s a lot of science in this one: Dopamines, neurotransmitters,cortisol, medications, etc.

 

The basic premise is simple. Exercise makes us better. Plato had it right when he wrote: “In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and one for the body, but for the two together. With these two means, man can attain perfection.”

 

We have been evolving as a species for 500,000 years. It’s only in the last 10,000 that we stopped being hunters and gatherers. Our brains have not yet adapted from the amount of physical activity man used 10,000 years ago. So we are obese, overweight, stressed, depressed and unproductive. Dr. Ratey is not against medication, but what he is really for is exercise. It gives us the best chance.

 

He closely examines the P.E. program at Naperville District 203 west of Chicago. Their PE program is extraordinary. Their obesity rate is very low and their test scores are much higher than would be predicted. Dr. Ratey’s recommendation. 5 days of aerobic activity a week (He’s a big fan of the work of Dr. Kenneth Cooper) and two days of lighter activity and weight training. Men should be at 75% of max heart rate, women should be at 65%. Use a heart monitor!

 

Some thoughts for stress. Stress in moderation is a good thing. It gets your brain working. But chronic stress really hurts you. You produce too much cortisol, resulting in belly fat and memory loss. Exercise can help. You monitor cortisol production and learn to cope.

 

Some thoughts for ADHD. One of the best treatment strategies for ADHD is establishing an extremely rigid schedule. Regular exercise will also spur the growth of new receptors in certain brain areas, thus increasing dopamine and norephinephrine.

 

I focus on stress and ADD because I have had to struggle with both of these. I’ve developed strong coping mechanisms and have managed to be quite successful, but I believe I can do even more. I’ve always been an exercise guy, and this makes me realize that I may need to step it up just a little more.

 

On a school leader level, it makes me look at PE in an entirely different way. We can do more using brain research. Paul Zientarski, Naperville’s PE Coordinator, said, “In our department, we create the brain cells. It’s up to the other teachers to fill them.”

The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way

The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way, by Amanda Ripley (2013)
This book takes three exchange students from the US and compares their experiences at home and abroad, while looking carefully and the Finland Education System as a model. It is a compelling read, and sends some strong messages. First:
the level of challenge in American classrooms is not as high as it should be. Most of the challenge focuses on memorization, when it should focus on higher level skills. Second, homework is overrated. Students having lives outside of school is essential. Third, training and hiring high quality teachers is an absolute necessity. Finland is much more selective than most nations. And where did they learn all of this? American educational research – most of which is ignored in American schools.

 

 

The Six Secrets of Change

Michael Fullan’s Change Forces is one of the great educational books, and he continues to look into the subject. In this book, he looks at six secrets:

  1. Love Your Employees
  2. Connect Peers with Purpose
  3. Capacity Building Prevails
  4. Learning is the Work
  5. Transparency Rules
  6. Systems Learn

There is nothing stunningly new here, but there are some great thoughts worth remembering. In Chapter Four, “Learning is the Work,” Fullan states, “Successful organizations mobilize themselves to be ‘all over’ the practices that are known to make a difference.” I love that. I’ve seen Districts move towards this, but the Superintendent did not stay long enough to make it complete.

 

 

The Short Bus

I learned about this book when I heard about Jonathan Mooney speaking to a group of educators locally. I learned that he was an elementary school student and high school student with us before going on to Brown University. I learned that he faced many challenges as a special education student and that he had written several books. I read this one and afterwards decided that he should be speaking to all of our employees.

 

The story is basically his journey in a short bus that he purchased and refurbished across the country meeting with students and adults who were clearly different types of learners. Some had been in special education classes. But all had faced unique challenges. His main theme is that there is no such thing as normal. When people are made to feel abnormal or different than the norm, that can be a feeling of inadequacy. I was struck by many of his experiences with the families of the students he visited. Many of those families were full of love and appreciation for his subjects. The families talked about how they added so much to their lives. There is a lot that he had to go through to get where he is. And he shares that he may have been just as guilty about making other students feel different than the norm. It’s a protective mechanism that we all have. This book gives great insight. It’s from one of our own here in Manhattan Beach, and I want to celebrate the book.

 

 

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

This is another one of my bedrock books. Stephen Covey has had such an influence on my personal and professional life.

The seven habits:

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with the End in Mind
  3. First Things First
  4. Win-Win
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw

From “Beginning with the End in Mind” which forces you to think about where you are going – both professionally and personally, to “First Things First,” making sure you prioritize correctly, to “Sharpening the Saw,” reminding you that if you do not practice self-improvement, you will wither away. I believe in all of these things, and I have to remind myself of them all the time.

For me, no other author does this as well as Stephen Covey. Read it, or Listen to it, and most of all, do what he advises and try to make habits out of his maxims. I do best when I have habits such as exercise, time away from work, time with family, planning my week/day, and I do worst when I get overwhelmed or sick and drop those habits. It’s a struggle for me, but I use Mr. Covey to help me with that struggle. When I’m at my best, fully employing these habits that I believe in, I feel like I can accomplish anything.

 

This is a book you read and reread.

 

 

Rookie Smarts

Liz Wiseman is a great author and an even better speaker. I heard her at an ACSA Conference in San Diego and saw her in a whole different light. She is funny, positive and incredibly real. This book has struck a chord with me. Ask any leader who is actually trying to make change, and they will tell you that all change is met with resistance, and that resistance will do its best to wear you down and halt you. Liz Wiseman talks about the power of “rookie smarts and how to keep that rookie mentality. Solid book and a great guide.

 

 

Quiet Strength

I listened to Mr. Dungy read his books while driving back and forth to work. Again, www.audible.com for great downloads right to your iPod. I’ve always admired the man and did not know much about him. A very successful, and once very publicly fired, NFL head coach, and in 2007 the winning coach of the Super Bowl. He was the first African-American coach to win the Super Bowl.

 

Two things struck me in this book. First, his commitment to faith and family. It is overwhelming. It’s where the title of the book comes from and it is real. He is a high quality man with deep beliefs and he lives his beliefs every day.

 

Second, he believed that the plan of action he brought for his team would pay big dividends, and he never wavered. His assistant coaches and his players heard the same values/commitments in the first team meeting, and they heard the same ones four or five years later as the team headed to the Superbowl. I love that. In fact, when things got tough for his teams, one of his mantras was, “Do What We Do.” It’s not time to panic, it’s time to do the things that we as professionals have worked so hard to learn and practice. Do What We Do.

 

But you can’t “Do What We Do” if not everyone knows what that is. That’s the problem with education.  I’ve said it before, but we as educators are famous for blowing in the wind. The prevailing philosophies change, and we change with them. We don’t have what Stephen Covey would call “True North” on our internal or educational compasses. Teachers don’t believe that any new philosophies will stay, and therefore they develop their own. When teams/schools are operating without one compass, they cannot move forward as a unit, nor can they learn from each other. Reading Mr. Dungy made me recommit to my philosophy of communicating often, communicating clearly, and never having more than two new things we are working on, and always being clear on what we stand for and strive for.

 

 

The Power of Collective Wisdom

I read The Wisdom of Crowds a few years back. It told of the mathematical wisdom of crowds. Give enough people a chance to have input, and the right answer emerges. It’s why democracy works … most of the time. The average guess of thousands of people regarding the number of marbles in a jar will best expert marble counter people … whoever they are.

This book has similar ideas, but it focuses on leadership. The authors begin with a focus on listening. That evolves into total presence, so that you understand both what is being said and what is not being said. They speak of understand group consciousness and using that to raise the group to a new level. There is a lot of good in this book, and there is some that is pretty far out there. They never use the phrase “May the Force be with you,” but if I’m listening correctly, even though it wasn’t said, it was said.