Home > Shifting schooling > Books that have shifted m(y)our thinking (Part 2)

Books that have shifted m(y)our thinking (Part 2)

I’m still really hoping that we’re going to get more folks sharing and commenting on books that have provoked and shifted their thinking – as I requested here.

But as a quick addendum to my original posting on this topic:

On my recent travels, I had opportunity to peruse through a SkyMall catalogue on one of my international flights. If you’ve never seen a SkyMall catalogue, they are packed full of ideas, inventions, and gadgets which you never realised you needed (or wanted) until you see them.  One particular innovation grabbed my attention: a service called Getabstract Biz Book Summaries

In brief, this is a service for busy businesspeople, wherein the good people at Getabstract find and read the “best” books in business, and supply clients with  “a crisp, clear five-page summary you can read in less than 10 minutes. The perfect length to deliver the book’s main ideas, and packed full of relevant insights.”

Imagine if there was such a service for busy educators! Would this be a good thing? Might it actually excite people enough about certain books that they want to go and read the whole thing?

Of course, clients of Getabstract pay good money to receive these summaries.  But in a way, they are just a more quality-controlled version of what you can get for free – for example, by reading user reviews on Amazon.com.

Maybe (my hope of hopes), shiftingthinking can be a more modest source of this kind of “potted summaries” service for people interested in 21st century thinking about learning. Since no-one’s getting paid to review books, however, this means we have to treat our webspace more like a digital commons.

In other words, you ought to give back as much as you receive!

Friends, consider this your call to words.


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  1. | #1

    Another book that really struck me a few years ago is “The Hidden Connections
    Integrating the Biological, Cognitive, and Social Dimensions of Life Into a Science of Sustainability”, by Fritjof Capra (Doubleday, 2002). I actually owned this book at one stage, but I’ve somehow lost it (or lent it) and I’d really love to look at it again. I remember it had some ideas that really appealed to me about learning. Somehow he was able to apply the same explanatory principles for how learning happens, from the level of the individual cell, to the level of the organism, to the level of organisations. If anyone’s got a copy they’d like to lend, please let me know!

  2. Ally
    | #2

    I have just spent the weekend reading Kieran Egan’s new book (I’ve also mentioned this in my comment on the Teachers Work blog) and I’m feeling really inspired by it. It is in three sections – the first outlines his ideas about why the current education system doesn’t work. In the second part he outlines a model of education designed to encourage students to engage cognitively and emotionally with ideas and by doing this generate new understandings. He argues that children at different ages understand the world in different ways and teachers need to value and build on these different ways of understanding, in particular with the use of stories. In the final section, which is written as a history of the future, Egan describes in detail what this sort of schooling might actually look like. His final challenge was something like if you agree with these ideas and like this vision for the future what are you going to do about it? So, this comment is my first little step in trying to do something about it by hopefully encouraging someone else to read this book! It’s an easy read, thought provoking and I didn’t want to put it down.

    K. Egan. (2008). The future of education: Reimagining our schools from the ground up. New Haven: Yale University Press.

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