Happy Memorial Day everyone. I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend and had a chance to recharge!
As stated in the first blog in this series, here are some ideas to help you organize your summer a bit. Whether you are completely off or just experiencing the summer slowness that most campuses feel, here are some ideas to help you make the most of your time.
In the last blog, I suggested some must-have apps to consider as you (hopefully) clean out all of those apps you don’t use anymore. (You did clean them out, right?)
In this blog, I will post some summer reading suggestions for you. I haven’t posted a list like this since last winter break and as most people only have time for a single book over that time, maybe this list will get a bit more traction now that summer is here.
If you are like me, you may not purchase physical books much anymore, opting for the audio version instead. Fear not! Most of these books I first read on Audible, followed closely by the purchase of the actual book so as to leverage for quotes and to study various passages in more depth.
So let’s get to it. Assuming you are keen on being the best possible professor, teacher, or even lecturer you can be, and/or if innovative thinking is in your blood, here are some must-read books!
Why We Sleep (Walker, 2017)
The premise is simple. We know more about sleep than we have ever known in human history. From why we dream to the purpose of sleep, Walker’s obsession with the benefits (as well as the detractors) of enough sleep is our gain. Just know two things going into this book. First, less than 1% of humans can get less than 8 hours of sleep per night without feeling the catastrophic consequences of doing so, yet almost everyone believes they are in the 1%. (You’re not.) Second, too little sleep hurts us in serious short-term and long-term ways. From cancer to memory to learning to personality to depression to psychosis to weight to sex and beyond, sleep is crucial to our health.
Modernizing Learning (Walcutt & Schatz, 2018)
I am not gratuitously including this book in the list because I contributed! It’s a truly powerful publication. (Don’t worry, when the chapter I publish in the HETL curated book comes out next year, you’ll know it!) There is a lot of good news about this book. Firstly, it is available for free as an eBook, downloadable from adlnet.gov. Second, it does not simply speak to learning, but places learning within the context of modern times. And as these ladies worked so closely with the military for so long, this book is not just geared toward an 18-year-old, traditional college student moving away from home for the first time. It instead tackles learning from multiple perspectives, contexts, and positions.
The End of Average (Rose, 2015)
How we measure people is fundamentally flawed, and not from a philosophical point of view, but actually from a mathematical perspective. By placing people into clusters by “average” we are doing ourselves and our students a tremendous disservice. This is a must read for any educational leader, teacher, or staff member and would be my highest recommendation this holiday season!
Mindset (Dweck, 2007)
It would be hard for me to argue that any other book written in the last 30 years is more important than this one regarding how to frame education. Often paired with Duckworth’s “Grit”, Dweck brings years of research, theory, and practice to readers explaining success in ways many school leaders still have not considered (likely because they have not seen it). A book that both frees academics while also holding them accountable in new ways, this book is a must read for leaders and should be operationalized as a matter of course.
How People Learn II (Bransford, et al, 2018)
Based on one of the best FREE eBooks I have ever read on the subject of learning, the second edition of this work is even better than the first. I have heard passionate, deliberate, highly reasoned arguments from “hard science” professors throughout the years, suggesting that their “soft science” counterparts are not great with research, suggest far too much policy based on either ‘gut’ or ‘emotional aptitude’, and that teaching STEM related information simply cannot leverage the same methods as liberal arts. So it may be refreshing to read a book on learning as assembled by scientists, engineers, and educational psychologists. Also powerful is how they infuse brain science with learning research to suggest the best ways to promote actual learning, and not just good test taking. (Oh, I should also mention it’s a free e-Book!)
Make It Stick (Brown, et al., 2014)
Similar to the book above, but with another decade and a half of research, this book will prove to traditionalists that methods like re-reading, highlighting notes, and lecturing are scientifically bad form. They are not best for students / learners, yet they are propagated throughout education mostly because educators practice what they experienced, having never researched what is best. This book will show that teaching and learning takes a very different approach, if designed for the learner and not simply easy for the instructor.
Sticking Points (Shaw, 2013)
Summer Leadership Academy Alert - we will leverage this book for much of the talking points during our time together this July! Sign up today! Any and every college or university leader, administrator, staff, or professor should be researching generational differences with a regular cadence. We are in a place where 5 generations are legitimately interacting at our institutions, yet many schools still promote processes and methods that are designed for 1 or 2 at best. This book, not written for educators but sharply aligned to education should be on your shelf.
The Fifth Discipline (Senge, 2006)
This may very well be a re-read for many, although the updates in the 2006 version are notably important. Senge’s description of system thinking (and how absent it appears to be within higher education) is profound. Most institutions are simply not set up to handle this kind of holistic architecture, yet Senge illustrates that anyone who spends the time and resources to do so, will likely reap tremendous benefits.
The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team (Lencioni, 2000)
Taking massive amounts of the author’s own organizational behavior research, this book, written more as a parable, describes how teams fail, but importantly, also details how to fix and transform teams into effective, successful experiences. An absolute must-read for any group of people who have not found success nor satisfaction, but wish to be effective.
I hope you find one or two in this list that peak your interest. If you enjoy them, which I am fairly certain that you will, I hope you will come back and try a few more. Summer is certainly long enough to tackle 3-4 of these impressive works, although you may want to go through them a second time over the course of the upcoming year. Feel free to share these with your colleagues and I hope you have a great time reading about this craft we call “teaching and learning.” We can always get better, but with these books in our pockets, we can do so quickly!
Good luck and good learning.