Summer Reading – August 26, 2015

This is a hard thing for a school Principal to admit, but I rarely read books. It has become increasingly hard for me to carve out time for reading and when I do, I find it difficult to stay focused on the text. There are so many distractions these days: the television, the computer, the games on my phone, etc.

This summer however, with things running so smoothly on campus, I decided to try to read a little bit each day. I have so many great books related to education in my office and each day I would take one off the shelf and read a few pages. The books I read have provided some fresh perspectives for me and I was eager to share them with our staff to open the school year. Today I would like to share these books with you and invite you to join the discussion that we are having amongst the staff.

The Homework Myth, by Alfie Kohn
Summary: Mr. Kohn believes that the homework that our children are required to do is not helpful to them. He points to research that shows that homework in fact does more harm than good. He urges schools to rethink how children learn and to reconsider their homework policies.

Quote: “It’s worth asking not only whether there are good reasons to support the practice of assigning homework but why that practice is so often taken for granted even by parents and teachers who are troubled by its impact on children.”

Discussion questions: What are your feelings about homework? Do you think that it is beneficial or harmful? Do you think Beechwood should change its approach to homework?

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz
Summary: Mr. Ruiz has put together what he calls, “A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom”. The Four Agreements are: “Be impeccable with your word,” “Don’t take anything personally,” “Don’t make assumptions” and “Always do your best.”

Quote: “Your best is going to change from moment to moment, it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.”

Discussion questions: How do you work to maintain a positive outlook each day? What can we do as parents and teachers to help our children avoid negative feelings and anxiety?

Play, by Stuart Brown
Summary: Dr. Brown urges all of us to make time every day to play. Not just because it is fun to play, but because it is essential to our physical and mental health.

Quote: “Play is nourishing, but you have to take time out for play, just as you would take time out for a meal. A lack of play should be treated like malnutrition. It is a risk to your body and mind.”

Discussion questions: Are you making time in your life for play? What activities make you feel positive and healthy? What is it about modern life that keeps us from engaging in regular play?

If you would like to respond to any of the discussion questions, feel free to email me at . All of the books are available to borrow and any time spent reading them will count towards your parent education agreement. (The Four Agreements is also available in Spanish). I am happy to be rediscovering reading and I am hoping to hear from you soon about these important topics.

-Mr. Laurance