Editor’s Note: Sure, there’s tons of reading to be undertaken when you’re working in progressive education. That’s because there’s no shortage of authors offering compelling reads that actually changes or reinforces the mindset of the educator.
Here we present reviews of a handful of fictional and nonfiction books — some of them new, some of them a bit longer in the tooth — that come highly recommended by members of our staff. See if any of them spark your curiosity. And then check them out:
The Dharma Bums – By Jack Kerouac
This 1958 semi-fictional novel relates the understanding and relationship between the outdoors and nature with that of the daily grind of working in the city life as seen through the eyes of the main character, Ray Smith. For our World Languages Instructional Specialist, Josán Perales, this book took him all summer to read because he had to stop every few pages to reflect on his own life experiences. As a college student studying philosophy and world religion, Josán found the story helped him, “empathize with people from all walks of life.” To him, it created a stronger interest for learning about other “experiences and dichotomous lives.” ~ Recommended by Josán Perales, World Languages Instructional Specialist.
Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk About Race and How to Do It – By Shelly Tochluk
This nonfiction book has the intention of educating individuals who are working in the education field with a diverse environment. Sara Benge, Eagle Rock’s interim science instructional specialist, said the book helped her witness her own identity as a white woman and how to develop herself as an anti-racist. The reading provides information on “building knowledge, skills, and communities that support anti-racism practices.” And it is a discussion of how to create a culture of witnessing educators who support allies for social and racial justice, according to Sara. ~ Recommended by Sara Benge, Interim Science Instructional Specialist.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – By Michelle Alexander
This civil rights book discusses the mass incarceration that is occurring currently in the United States with an emphasis on the African-American population. The author explains how the criminal justice system is broken and has become today’s Jim Crow by discriminating and profiling certain groups of populations within the country. For Eagle Rock’s 2016/2017 Public Allies Teaching Fellow In Human Performance, Cordell Church, this book opened his eyes to new aspects and perspectives on the criminal justice system that he had not though about in the past. He doesn’t want to provide too many details, and would rather have people read it to form their own opinions and create their own synopsis, adding the book will “change the way you view America.” ~ Recommended by Cordell Church, 2016/2017 Public Allies Teaching Fellow In Human Performance.
The Alchemist – By Paulo Coelho
This fictional novel attempts to explain the importance of one’s destiny through the adventure of a young boy named Santiago. Throughout the book, the boy encounters various characters and challenges that lead him to the main objective — a hidden treasure in Egypt. This book, says Sebastian Franco, was not about finding the treasure, but about the adventure that leads to that goal. He says that this story has allowed him to search deeper for his own adventure and search what is truly meaningful in his life. He said, the book “ignited my passion for deeper learning and understanding of the education system while I was in college.” ~ Recommended by Sebastian Franco, 2016/2017 Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma – By Bessel A. Van der Kolk
In this book, Van der Kolk — an accomplished trauma expert — writes about the body and mind after a trauma-based experience. He does not simply explain what happens to a person after such events, but provides stories of survivors and how events so described have changed the lives of those who experienced them. The author explains how the brain can be rewired after traumatic events such as physical violence, sexual abuse, or battlefield action as a part of the armed forces. Van der Kolk provides alternative solutions to trauma in lieu of drugs and talk therapy. Instead, he suggests such practices as yoga, mindfulness techniques, and neurofeedback. ~ Recommended by Megan Rebeiro, Director of Students
Interested in other recommended reads from the staff here at the Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center? If you are, be sure to check out the following blog posts:
- Books Recommended for Summer Reading By Eagle Rock Staffers (from June 9, 2016)
- Eagle Rock Staffers Reflect on Books Worth Reading Over The Break (from Dec. 2015)
- Eagle Rock School Touted in Many Educational Manuscripts (from Oct. 2015)
- Spring 2015 Reading Recommendations from Eagle Rock (from May 2015)
- Winter 2015 Recommended Reads for Progressive Educators (from Jan. 2015)
- Recommended Reads from Eagle Rock Staffers (from July 2014)
- Eagle Rock Staffers’ Recommended Reads (from Sept. 2013).