Are you sitting comfortably? Then, I’ll begin…
by Nicole Dyson, Founder & CEO, Future Anything
As a child, my father would take me to the local library every Saturday morning.
I’d wander the aisles, losing track of time scanning the spines of books for something that captured my eye and my imagination. An hour or two later, I would emerge, my arms full of many books as I was allowed to borrow- which, at the time, was 12.
A week later, I’d return, swapping the twelve books I’d hungrily consumed the week prior to lose myself in the aisles again.
I still love to lose myself in a good book.
So, as we slide into holidays I thought I’d share a couple of lists with you.
The first is a list of some of my favourite books. Fiction, non-fiction and everything in between.
The second list is one I harvested when I asked a question on LinkedIn recently. I asked, “What’s one piece of research, or an article that you would share with a teacher reluctant to engage with the future of education?”
Many brilliant and thoughtful educators and innovators responded, and I’m excited to share their suggestions below.
So, whether you dive into some education related research or you take a jaunt down the lane of recreational reading, enjoy.
Nic’s Recreational Reading List – Winter 2022
- Now a Netflix series, This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay is one of the only books that has ever had me laughing out loud. Don’t worry, if you’re not a fan of the series, the book (in my opinion) is far better.
- A few other fiction books that I inhaled in one sitting include Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, The Yield by Tara June Winch, The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams and Hanya Yanagihara‘s haunting read, A Little Life.
- If you haven’t read Esther Perel’s books Mating in Captivity and The State of Affairs then drop whatever you’re doing (after you’ve finished this blog, obviously) and read them now. Her podcast series “Where shall we begin?” also makes intriguing listening.
- I’ve been asked a few times in podcast recordings to name a book I’d recommend entrepreneurs read. Paul Jarvis’ book Company of One is always on the list.
- My go-to book to gift others is Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. It’s one I read every year. If you ever feel lost, this is one book that might help you feel found again. For children, I love to gift The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy.
- Three other books that I often recommend to educators include Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker and Quiet by Susan Cain. Each challenged me to think differently about my role as an educator and facilitator.
- Did you know that most people can only name three emotions- happy, sad and mad. I’m a huge fan of anything by Brene Brown, but her latest book Atlas of the Heart is such a critical deep dive into mapping 87 different emotions, pointing out the distinguishing features of each.
- Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu should be mandatory reading for Australians.
- I loved the founding stories of both Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog and Laurence Levy’s To Pixar and Beyond.
- This is a safe space, right? When I ran out of YA fiction at the library, my father got me hooked on fantasy books. One of his favourite authors was Raymond E Feist. After my father’s passing a couple of months ago, I re-read Magician. It is still one of my favourite books and reminds me of my dad.
Nic’s Network’s Educational Reading (And Watching!) List – Winter 2022
- A great place to start, and suggested by both Nicola Bone (Sound Off for Schools) and Liz Jackson (Sydney Catholic Schools), is Looking To The Future, the 2020 report of the Shergold review on senior secondary pathways into work, further education and training. (BTW, Nicola joined me for one of our Live Learning sessions recently – you can catch up on our chat about designing schools for student and teacher wellbeing here)
- Teaching with the World Peace Game is a top pick from Luke Ritchie, Principal at SA’s Annesley Junior School. Teacher and musician John Hunter puts all the problems of the world on a 4’x5′ plywood board — and lets his 4th-graders solve them. In his TED Talk, John explains how this engages school kids, and why the complex lessons it teaches go further than classroom lectures can.
- Matt Esterman, Director of Innovation & Partnerships at Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta recommends Towards Education 3.0: The Changing Goalposts for Education by Chris Goldspink & Robert Kay. There’s an excerpt and link to the full white paper here.
- The huge suite of resources from the Career Industry Council of Australia was flagged by Lucy Sattler from Study, Work, Grow. There’s a wealth of information and inspiration including links to Australia and international best practice case studies and resources, policy and position papers, frameworks and reports.
- The Eventful Learning Co’s Founder Summer Howarth points us towards the Northern Territory’s Education Engagement Strategy 2022 – 2031. While the title might not immediately grab you as a relaxing holiday read, it provides an accessible look at why so many young people are disengaging from education, and what we can do better to engage them. (Summer is also another of our Live Learning alumni – our conversation on designing curriculum in a global pandemic is here)
- The Foundation for Young Australians’ New Work Order research series has, in seven reports since 2015, analysed how disruption to the world of work has significant implications for young Australians. This is one of my own ‘go to’ sources of powerful data and engaging analysis, and was also suggested by others too as a great resource to stimulate discussion. The reports are also really accessible for young people to tap into too.
- Alisa Clearly from the Global Learning Centre highlights the UNESCO Futures of Education Report: Reimagining our futures together. In their words, it’s a global initiative to reimagine how knowledge and learning can shape the future of humanity and the planet. In Ailsa’s words, it’s “designed to stretch education systems beholden to a neoliberal model of how the world should be”. Where do we sign up?!
- Where else could we finish but with the one and only Sir Ken Robinson? As Dr Pete Stebbins of High Performance Schools reminds us, every one of Sir Ken’s brilliant TED Talks drives different and deeper reflections about the future of education. Always worth a rewatch – grab a cuppa and enjoy!
A massive thank you to everyone who made suggestions to help compile this epic list. You’re all legends.
The recommendations are still coming in – connect with Nic on LinkedIn here to see the latest additions.
If you still want more, check out our Fast Five and Empowering Educators series where we (gently) interrogate some of Australia’s most inspiring educators and changemakers on their inspiration, including their latest reading, watching or listening recommendations.
Future Anything offers a portfolio of student workshops, teacher professional development and in-curriculum project-based learning experiences that are building enterprising classrooms in Australia and beyond.
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About the author: Nicole Dyson
As a teacher in the USA, UK and Australia as well as a Head of Department and Head of Year at some of Queensland’s top-performing public schools, Nicole has repeatedly led the design and implementation of whole-school changes to support future ready learning; building enterprising classrooms that place young people at the forefront of co-designing contextually relevant learning experiences.