I have a another week or two before my next class starts and, due to some truly questionable decisions from powers above my pay grade, I haven’t been working mornings at all for a while. Times like these remind me of being unemployed; going stir-crazy from lack of focus was always a threat.
As such, I’m forcing myself to go on a reading blitz. I just finished Ian Mortimer’s The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England, a fascinating take on history and travelogue by a guy that seems to have more degrees than most of us have shirts. Most history classes would benefit from textbooks written like this one.
I also polished off John Taylor Gatto’s Dumbing Us Down in two sittings. Gatto is a big proponent of home schooling and unschooling, and he does an incredible job of laying bare the real injustice and spiritual violence that occurs in the classroom today. As such, this book does a darn good job of making me feel bad for being a teacher.
After reading about how much I have crushed humanity and democracy in my classroom, I decided to descend into fantasy for a bit. I’m on Volume 7 of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman (Brief Lives). If you’ve never read it, you are missing out on what graphic novels can be when you remove the capes and red briefs and replace them with Lovecraftian horror and modern mythology.
To balance this out, I’m also reading Ken Robinson’s The Element. It too is an indictment of modern educational practices, but I feel less like crying after reading it than I did after Gatto got through with me. (If you remember, I’ve talked about Ken Robinson before and how awesome-sauce he is as a public speaker and philosopher. His TED Talk about changing education paradigms is a piece of absolute genius). Despite the fact that it is shelved along with Tony Robbins, this isn’t one of those craptastic self-help manuals. Rather, this is a working manual for expanding our idea of intelligence and genius to include much, much more than the Stanford-Binet.
And that’s what I’m reading right now.