Eagle Rock Staffers Reflect on Books Worth Reading Over The Break

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For educators — not unlike surgeons, attorneys and others in professional avocations — keeping up with the “tricks of the trade” is a necessity. Physicians must consistently take refresher courses or attend seminars just to keep up with the advances in medicine.

Attorneys require updates on new laws and legal trends. And teachers and educators who are interested in bettering their skills are constantly attending lectures, taking continuing education courses and checking out the latest literature to stay at the top of their field.

So, once again, we’ve checked in with Eagle Rock staffers to discover what they’re reading on the holiday break that’s going to impact their students come January.

Here’s a short list of who’s reading what (note: clicking on any of the book cover images will take you to that book’s page on Amazon.com):

Just-Like-Us-Book-CoverJust Like Us — by Helen Thorpe

This book follows four young women in Denver as they graduate from high school and head off to college. All four of the young women have parents who are undocumented and several are also undocumented. It brings to the forefront what the label “undocumented” does to their identity.

This book provides a great insight to some of the struggles of balancing two cultures — especially for those that are undocumented and really wanting to succeed in this country.

I read this book when I was working with undocumented students and students who had undocumented parents. I had grown up knowing very well what undocumented students and parents go through, and this was something that helped validate some of the identity struggles that I had been surrounded by.

Later I met a researcher who talked about how the coming out process for students who are undocumented and/or who have parents who are undocumented is similar to the process for LGBTQ youth. That was something important to me in deciding how to best support the students I was working with at the time. It was also one of the first books that I’ve read where the “characters” were like me and the people I had grown up with. I carry my identity as a Latina very proudly, and the book helped me embrace my identity further. — Recommended by Bea Salazar, Life After Eagle Rock Instructional Specialist

Persepolis-Book-CoverPersepolis — a graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi

This memoir of a girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution is an example of how personal narratives and art serve as a revolutionary tool. It provides a perfect example of how the personal is political and the political is personal.

And that offers tremendous implications for Eagle Rock. Our stories and memoirs are important enough to be a book/movie/graphic novel. Marjane’s story is exceptional because she took the time to write it down in a creative way. How can we capture our own memoirs? Persepolis has inspired my work here because it captures the importance of writing down people’s narratives and stories. It inspired me to set forth on a project in courageous conversations where we are going to interview community members to get to know their stories. — Recommended by Bea Salazar, Life After Eagle Rock Instructional Specialist

Buddha in Red Face Book-CoverBuddha in Red Face — by Eduardo Duran

The main point of this book is our dreams — and the reality of those dreams — and our disconnect from them. And while there is an emphasis today on tradition and the importance of culture and ceremony, there is also a need for us to be able to live peacefully in this world as well. Not so much reliance on the structure of organized religion but on the importance of the aspects that guide us to our truths.

The book expresses the importance of a teacher, or a guide or mentor in our lives who comes to us when the student is ready to learn. Wisdom arrives only when you stop looking for it and start living the life the Creator intended for you.

It is the realization that the dream world is just as important than “the awake.” — Recommended by Eriq Acosta, Societies & Cultures Instructional Specialist

Death-At-Early-Age-Book-CoverDeath at an Early Age — by Jonathan Kozol

This classic of urban educational literature chronicles Kozol’s first year teaching in an overcrowded inner-city school in Boston during the mid-1960s. In many ways it is a horror story, detailing the crumbling infrastructure of the Roxbury neighborhood, the deep-seated policies of racial segregation, and an unsupportive and apathetic school administration.

I find this one of the most heart-wrenching accounts of public education, all the more unsparing through Kozol’s personal voice. Sometimes accounts of systemic issues in education overlook individual stories of students, and Kozol’s book is student-centered, diving into their backgrounds, relationships, and academic potential.

This serves to remind me that the successes and failures of an education system reside in individual students. And as a teacher at Eagle Rock, that is where my attention and passions should fundamentally lie — in my relationship with students. — Recommended by Michael Grant, Music Fellow

A-Mathematicians-Lament-Book-CoverA Mathematician’s Lament: How School Cheats Us Out of Our Most Fascinating and Imaginative Art Form — by Paul Lockhart

My Instructional Specialist gave me this book (that was originally an article until someone said- “Hark, we should bind it!”), which focuses on the cultural misunderstanding of math as “crunching numbers” or an application for science.

Lockhart talks about math as an art form, and bemoans the fact that all creativity has been sucked out of it by our current math education systems. It’s also full of really cool thought puzzles and mathematical insights.

I highly recommend it — and even more so if you disliked how math was taught to you. This book inspires me to teach math through creative problems that require thinking rather than exercises to regurgitate. — Recommended by Helen Higgins, Math Fellow

For additional book recommendations, please see:

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