I have had my nose in a number of good books in the last few months. I’ve included some of them here so you can add them to your future reading list for 2018. There are ten in total – five related to education (which I think is everyone’s business) and five ‘must reads’ for future thriving of a more general nature. They are in no particular order and I haven’t written extensive information about them. I suggest you check them out for yourself and maybe there is one that appeals to you! It is a very random list.
The Next Generation: Preparing Today’s Kids for an Extraordinary Future – Tony Ryan
This book is written by my good friend Tony Ryan, a futurist based in Australia. It is full of information and trends that every educator and parent should read. What I really love about Tony’s writing is that it oozes positivity and leaves you feeling that our young people have a bright future.
There is life-changing power in every conversation you have with a child.
You’re More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen – Eric Liu
Eric Liu shares the core laws of power and the rise of bottom-up citizen power. This book is a great read for those who are proactivists, not for fence sitters.
If we want our society to work for everyone it is imperative that we learn to circulate power and literacy far more widely.
Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution that’s Transforming Education – Ken Robinson
Sir Ken Robinson is a well known thought leader in education and innovation. This book continues his focus on the imperative for schools to become more creative. Sir Ken’s writing is a fabulous mix of stories and anecdotes, links to research and practical ideas for immediate use. I know of at least one principal who has bought a copy for every member of his staff!
If you run an education system based on standardization and conformity that suppresses individuality, imagination, and creativity, don’t be surprised if that’s what it does.
WTF: What’s the Future and Why it’s up to Us – Tom O’Reilly
This book is more about technology than some of the other books on this list. What can we do to help shape the future when technologies are increasing exponentially?
Instead of using technology to replace people, we can use it to augment them so they can do things that were previously impossible.
Disobedient Teaching – Welby Ings
This book has a great title. It is also written by a New Zealand educator. More importantly Ings shows how a great teachers can influence the education system as professionals…and not wait for permission. Read his stories…
Disobedient teachers are humane, passionate risk takers. They are professional in a sense of the word that reaches beyond the compliant ticking of performance indicators. They ask questions and they don’t give up – and they make things better.
Future Agenda: Six Challenges for the Next Decade – Carol Dewing and Tim Jones
This is an interesting book based on research by Future Agenda, which is the world’s largest global foresight programme. It presents six key challenges: future people, future place, future power, future belief, future behaviour and future business.
The internet has democratised knowledge and changed the nature of who we trust and why. As confidence in large organisations declines, the search for trustworthy alternatives evolves. What we believe is changing how we behave.
Beautiful Failures – Lucy Clark
My sister bought me this book. It is full of stories from the perspective of parents struggling to help their kids be happy and the pressures from systems that push against this. It is heartfelt and not a ‘beat up’ of teachers.
The question of how we value teachers is absolutely crucial to the way we think about education.
The Signals are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe is Tomorrow’s Mainstream – Amy Webb
I really like Amy’s writing. In this book she provides a methodology for thinking like a futurist and asking critical questions about the implications. It’s a realistic book from a professional futurist, a great introduction to signals and trends, and has extensive notes for each chapter.
Finding fringe thinkers is the first part of the forecasting process.
Education Forward: Moving Schools into the Future – David Price
This book has chapters written by a range of credible educators. My favourite section focuses on the urgent case for change.
…education has to be about learning to thrive in a transforming world.
Collaborating with the Enemy: How to Work with People you Don’t Agree with or Like or Trust – Adam Kahane
This book definitely wins the best title award. Kahane talks about stretch collaboration. There are three aspects to this. Stretch Two is about experimenting a way forward, and allowing ideas to emerge.
Stretch collaboration involves making our way forward amid uncertainty and contestation….”We are crossing the river by feeling the stones.”
I read a lot of my material online, and scan as a regular part of my futures thinking. My reading is diverse and the books listed here are just a tiny part of my learning ecosystem. Maybe one of them might be a book for your future reading!
An outwards mindframe
I have caste a critical eye over my reading list from the last year because it is easy to get caught up in the filter bubble of one’s own beliefs. This is also referred to as an ‘echo chamber‘ where your own biases and beliefs are your complete frame of reference. You surround yourself with people, research, and conversations that reflect your own thinking and your views begin to narrow, never challenged. The difficulty is that algorithms reinforce this by giving us more of the same! Yet humanity needs more understanding of each other and more tolerant. Adam Kahane talks about the stretch of stepping into the game:
we need to shift our focus onto what we ourselves are doing: how we are contributing to things being the way they are and what we need to do differently to change the way things are.
Essentially this is about being the change, taking control of self and growing an outward mindframe. I’m interested in extending my thinking, stepping into the game by deliberately reading and listening to diverse views. To do this I am allocating more time to Resistance Reading this year. This involves finding writers, speakers and influencers who have different points of view from my own and considering what makes me feel uncomfortable and why. Where did my views come from and what does the different perspective bring? Here are several ways I will do this:
- I really like this list of 50 DIY Reading Challenges and think one of these might be good for me. I am linking it here so I don’t lose the link, and maybe you will find it useful too.
- I am going to be more aware of my processes for using search engines. For example, using advanced google searches. Alan November provides an example of this to explore the views of different countries. Check out his article about advanced google searches.
There are some more ideas in my blogpost on Being Uniquely Human. If you have some other ideas for beating the filter bubble or techniques for building resistance reading please comment so we can grow an outwards mindset together.