Recommended Books for the Board

September, 2010

Learning and Motivation

The Flat World and Education: How America's Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future, Linda Darling-Hammond

Stanford education professor Darling-Hammond makes a clear, organized argument that, "like manufacturing industries that have struggled and gone under in recent decades, modern schools were designed at the turn of the last century," and are in desperate need of transformation. Using a straightforward style to examine complex issues, Darling-Hammond reveals the successful educational strategies around the world that are toppling the old educational guard, including a high degree of personalization that allows stronger, closer relationships among students, faculty, staff, and parents.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink

Drawing on research in psychology, economics and sociology, Pink's analysis—and new model—of motivation offers tremendous insight into our deepest nature.

A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink

Pink argues that business and everyday life will soon be dominated by right-brain thinkers. He identifies the roots and implications of transitioning from a society dominated by left-brain thinkers into something entirely different.

Change by Design, Tim Brown

Design thinking converts need into demand. It′s a human−centered approach to problem solving that helps people and organizations become more innovative and more creative.

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Sir Ken Robinson

Offering a wide range of stories about the creative journeys of different people with diverse paths, Robinson demonstrates a rich vision of human ability and creativity.

The Path to Purpose: How Young People Find Their Calling in Life, William Damon

Damon offers compelling portraits of young people who are thriving and identifies the nine key factors that have made the difference for them, presenting simple but powerful methods that parents and all adults can employ to cultivate that energized sense of purpose in young people.

Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell examines the phenomenon of success using as his examples outliers, men and women with skills, talent, and drive who do things out of the ordinary. He contends that we must look beyond the merits of a successful individual to understand his culture, his friends and family, and the community values he inherits and shares.

Conversations with Great Teachers, Bill Smoot

Castilleja faculty member Bill Smoot interviews master teachers in fields ranging from K--12 and higher education to the arts, trades and professions, sports, and politics. What is it that passes between the best teachers and their students to make learning happen? Smoot's insightful questions elicit thought-provoking reflections about teaching as a calling and its aims, frustrations, and satisfactions.

Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes, Alfie Kohn

Kohn challenges the widely held assumption that incentives lead to improved quality and increased output in the workplace and in schools. He discusses why rewards, including praise, fail to promote lasting behavior change or enhance performance and frequently make things worse.

Global Achievement Gap, Tony Wagner

With insights gained from visits to leading suburban schools, education expert Tony Wagner situates our school problems in the context of the demands of the global knowledge economy. Highlighting discussions with young people and the adults who work with them, Wagner also explains the ways in which today’s generation is differently motivated to excel.


What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets, Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio

A stunning photographic collection featuring portraits of 80 people from 30 countries and the food they eat in one day.

What the World Eats, Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio

Cultural geographers Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio visited twenty-five families in twenty-one countries to create this fascinating look at what people around the world eat in a week.

Omnivore’s Dilemna, Michael Pollan

Pollan examines what he calls "our national eating disorder" in this remarkably clearheaded book. It's a fascinating journey up and down the food chain, one that might change the way you read the label on a frozen dinner, dig into a steak or decide whether to buy organic eggs. You'll certainly never look at a Chicken McNugget the same way again.

Edible Schoolyard, Alice Waters

Alice Waters started a revolution in 1971 when she introduced local, organic fare at her Berkeley, California, restaurant, Chez Panisse. Twenty-five years later, she and a small group of teachers turned over long-abandoned soil at an urban middle school in Berkeley and planted the Edible Schoolyard. The schoolyard has since grown into a universal idea of Edible Education that integrates academics with growing, cooking, and sharing wholesome, delicious food.

Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power and Civilization, Steven Solomon

This text illuminates the importance of water in human development from the first civilizations of the Fertile Crescent and the Indus River Valley to the present. Solomon advances a persuasive argument: the prosperity of nations and empires has depended on their access to water.

Food and Fuel: Solutions for the Future,  Andrew Heintzman (Editor), Evan Solomon (Editor), Eric Schlosser(Foreword)

Wide-ranging pieces by trenchant thinkers such as Thomas Homer-Dixon, Gordon Laird, Jeremy Rifkin, Ken Wiwa, and Frances Moore Lappé, offer valuable strategies to combat global famine and fast-food fat, business models for safe and sustainable food production and power sources, descriptions of emerging technologies and sciences, a reexamination of nuclear power, and much more.


Hamlet’s Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age, William Powers

Powers suggests that today’s influx of technology is not so unusual; he looks to ideas of the past for remedies: to Plato, who analyzed the transition from the ancient technology of talking to the cutting-edge gadgetry of written scrolls; to Shakespeare, who gave Hamlet the latest in Elizabethan information apps, an erasable notebook; to Thoreau, who carved out solitary spaces amid the press of telegraphs and railroads.

Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with the New Media, Mizuko Ito et al

Funded by the MacArthur Foundation, this book reports on an ambitious three-year ethnographic investigation into how young people are living and learning with new media. The book examines its subject not simply in terms of technology trends but situated within the broader structural conditions of childhood and the negotiations with adults.

Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler

A thorough yet popular take on a complex phenomenon, this volume offers an entertaining guide to the mechanics and importance of human networking.

Health and Wellness

Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students , Denise Clark Pope

A scholarly study presented with great clarity and enlivened by vignettes of student life, this work provides a fresh perspective on the state of American education.

The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids, Madeline Levine

In this eye-opening, provocative, and essential book, clinical psychologist Madeline Levine explodes one child-rearing myth after another. With empathy and candor, she identifies toxic cultural influences and well-intentioned, but misguided, parenting practices that are detrimental to a child's healthy self-development. Her thoughtful, practical advice provides solutions that will enable parents to help their emotionally troubled "star" child cultivate an authentic sense of self.


Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, Stuart Brown

Brown, a physician, psychiatrist, clinical researcher and the founder of the National Institute for Play, has made a career of studying the effects of play on people and animals. His conclusion is that play is no less important than oxygen, and that it's a powerful force in nature that helps determine the likelihood of the very survival of the human race.

Playing for Keeps: Life and Learning on a Public School Playground, Deborah Meier

NOTE: Deborah Meier will be at Kepler’s Books on Tuesday, November 9th, 2010 at 7:00 PM to talk about this book.

Why is play important in the lives of children? What crucial aspects of learning are being neglected in the current near-elimination of recess time in schools? Playing for Keeps

should contribute significantly to the understanding of all those concerned, professionally or personally, with the welfare of our school-age population.