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digging too

November 26, 2012

More digging.

Early signs of summer include the first 30 degree days, using the barbecue, daybreak with magpies caroling, and a book stack that waits for less-hectic days ahead. Here are my current lodes:

  • Elwyn Richardson’s In the Early World has intrigued since promotions by Allan Alach on his Leading & Learning blog. Storage out beyond the Black Stump at the University of Western Australia’s Welshpool depot necessitated hunting this 1972 edition from library services via email, and I released it from captivity last Thursday. Impressions: artistic, inspiring, subjective account of learning-with students by unleashing their creativity in projects-to-amaze. Love it.
  • Making Thinking Visible was a recent Amazon acquisition based on tantalising glimpses of half-opened packages shared on Twitter (yes, @denise_lombardo!). I am reminded of Tony Ryan’s Thinker’s Keys and Graham Watts’s Thinking Tools as well as ITC Publications online resources which are so well reinforced for just-in-time application in their Innovative Teachers’ Companion (highly recommended); rubrics and strategies for rendering the invisible concept – thinking – more readily discernible has many guises. I am perhaps more wary of accepting any right way of achieving this worthy end goal. Judgement is with-held as I persist in reading, but the text is staid with minimal graphics, a dull off-set grey scale for headings and flagged key points, plus suggestions read like a sanctimonious guide intoning moral certitude. Fails to grab.
  • Block’s style engages immediately (thanks @tonygurr), and I’ve already been won by his avowal of stewardship in other liberated-from-uni reconnoitres to the second floor business collection:

This is where we retreat for lunch afterwards:

From Matilda Bay, Crawley to Block’s wisdom:

What will matter most to us, upon deeper reflection, is the quality of experience we create in the world, not the quantity of results (Block, 2002, p. 37).

Avoid if you’re uncomfortable with uncertainties and paradox. Worth exploring for the Required Course recommendations in Chapter 8 where Following Your Heart’s Desire and Learning About Ideas Outside Your Field are fleshed out with required reading. Brilliant!

Top of the pile is Leaders Make the Future because it’s the most recent arrival based on a tip from Scott McLeod. I love the mental inversion required to transform what Bob Johansen calls a VUCA World (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) aka “depressing and hopeless” (Johansen, 2012, p.57) to vision, understanding, clarity and agility.


This is a self-help leadership guide with 10 “new” skill sets – buy the book, or engage with Scott’s post where I found myself siding with Fran who wondered about classroom relevance/ transference issues. Yes, I cooled quickly to Bob’s suggestion there are answers amid chaos (unlikely) and he’s able to teach us how. I’m not questioning the intention, or the expertise (lots of terrific vignettes and resources in evidence), but don’t be lulled into conceiving there are silver bullets.

CC Image Source:

Selected references

Block, P. (2002). The answer to how is yes: Acting on what matters. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Johansen, B. (2012). Leaders make the future: Ten new leadership skills for an uncertain world. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Richardson, E.S. (1972). In the early world. Wellington: NZ Council for Educational Research.

Ritchart, R., Church, M., Morrison, K. (2011). Making thinking visible: How to promote engagement, understanding and independence for all learners. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

One Comment leave one →
  1. @denise_lombardo permalink
    November 26, 2012 2:55 pm

    Thanks for the other recommendations, Sam. I have only managed two chapters of Ritchardt’s text… Need to read more and looking forward to holidays to do so, like you, I have a stack and am looking forward to down time to feed my brain. Sorry it wasn’t so good! Will let you know my thoughts when I get there!.

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