Monday, May 28, 2012

Summer Reading

One of my favorite parts of summer is the ability to sit down and enjoy good books. As the summer progresses I plan to write about the books I read and make connections to teaching.

The topic of creativity is hard to discuss without being vague. Jonah Lehrer aims to take the mystery away from creativity and provide examples of how creativity can be increased in real life. His main point throughout the book is that creativity is not something mystical but is a skill that can be honed.

My main takeaways from Imagine were:

  • Creative ideas tend to happen when we are relaxed and able to let our minds make connections between topics and ideas that are not obviously connected.
  • Creativity must be balanced with hard work. Once the idea is hatched it takes grit and determination to follow through and make something actually happen.
  • Creative solutions and ideas often arise by seeing problems through someone else’s eyes. I need to encourage my students to interact with people who are different than them and will push their thinking.
  • Relax. Creativity requires time to marinate before coming alive. School can be such a rushed and hurried environment. When it is within my power I plan to allow for more time for my students to relax and daydream solutions to tough problems. Each quarter my students develop side projects (similar to Google’s 20% time) and this would be the perfect time to practice this in our classroom.

I would encourage anyone to pick up a copy of
Imagine and read it this summer. I learned a ton and I am still thinking over the ideas and suggestions provided. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have had a chance to read it.

I don’t really want to start a business per se. But, I do want to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in my students. I have this crazy idea for my students to start a couple of businesses next year and I thought this book might give me a few ideas.

As you read this book it is impossible not to dream about potential businesses you could start. I dare you to try it.

Some takeaways for my students were:
  • To start a business you only need three things:
    1. A product or service
    2. A group of people willing to pay for it
    3. A way to get paid for it

  • Focus on what you can add or take away to improve the quality of someone’s life. How can your product or service give them something that will make their life better and how can you take away something that is a negative for them.
  • Value means helping people. How can you provide value to someone else?
  • Keep it simple. Be able to explain your business in 140 characters or less.

What a great story. I loved this book. I can’t believe it took me so long to get around to reading it.

This book reminded me of the great joy that can be found in discovering lovable characters and fantastic new worlds within a story. It reminded me why I work so hard to get good books in the hands of my students. I want them to experience that joy.

The summer reading list grows by a book or two each day - better get back to reading!

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