I have compiled a list of books I find invaluable in my own practice as teacher, author and when I run workshops and INSET with colleagues. Some of these books are great in terms of teaching, learning to use ICT and some are simply inspirational.

A Whole New Mind by Dan Pink

Daniel Pink explains that:

‘…the future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind – creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers. These people – artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers – will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys’.

This distinctly new group of people will offer more than linear, logical thinking and they will view their environment, workplace and life from a more holistic perspective, aware of the changing world around them. The educational system must meet that challenge. Teacher will benefit greatly from reading this book as we are the ones that must prepare students for an emerging labour market which has evolved from what Pink describes as a knowledge based sphere of linear thinking, analytical and calculating skills to a new sphere were they will need the ability to detect patterns and opportunities, among other things. If the former were the skills of the Information Age, then synthesis will become the core skill of the 21st Century, where students are required to grasp the bigger picture and to combine contrasting elements into a new impressive whole. Welcome to the Conceptual Age. This book has helped me re-focus my own teaching as well as outlook on education and beyond. It is a truly insightful read, get it now.

Chris Abani: GraceLand

Abani’s best-selling 2004 novel GraceLand is a searing and funny tale of a young Nigerian boy, an Elvis impersonator who moves through the wide, wild world of Lagos, slipping between pop and traditional cultures, art and crime. It’s a perennial book-club pick, a story that brings the postcolonial African experience to vivid life. I love Abani’s writing, it’s honest, funny and imaginative as is he. If you have a spare 17 minutes do visit Talks: must watch section and listen to Chris Abani’s talk of African stories: complex, moving, funny and conscious.

Voices of Our Time (CD collection) by Studs Terkel

When Studs Terkel passed away in October 2008 thousands mourned, yet most people around the world had never heard his name. The most interesting thing about Terkel is the way he interviewed people and, perhaps most importantly, who he interviewed. The list of celebrities who are involved in this selection is quiet staggering, however, Terkel’s ‘magic’, in my humble opinion, is when he devoted his time to ordinary individuals whose life journeys revealed a lot about life of that time. This particular selection of interviews include Aaron Copland, Oliver Sacks, Margaret Mead, Daniel Ellsberg, Maya Angelou, Pete Seeger, John Kenneth Galbraith, and dozens of others. This collection provide excerpts from 48 interviews, first broadcast on Terkel’s daily show on WFMT, which all together, provide a fascinating portrait of the last half of 20th century.

Please visit Studsterkel.org to explore this fascinating individual in more detail and discover other books and listen/watch interviews conducted by Terkel.

Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Difficult Times by Studs Terkel

This books is a master piece.

In this book Studs Terkel turns to a subject more elusive than those of his earlier oral histories (see Studsterkel.org), namely hope . There are many very thoughful and though-provoking interviews which keeps you from putting the book down. My favourite interviewis when he talks to Brigader General Paul Tibbets, who piloted the Enola Gay over Hiroshima in 1945, when Tibbets dismisses the possibility for peaceful resolutions to the post-September 11 conflicts. It raises many interesting questions about the nature of warfare and violence.

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