Mastermindsby Rosalind Wiseman, author of Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World (Harmony, September 2013)

Boys are so much easier than girls. There’s no drama.

Boys just punch it out and it’s over.

Eleven years ago when I published Queen Bees & Wannabes, a huge amount of attention was placed on girls and their social dynamics. But in all the years I’ve worked with boys and girls, I knew that boys struggled with many of the same challenges girls did—we were just having a really hard time seeing it. As the years passed I grew increasingly concerned, as I saw many boys adopt an appearance of detachment from their most meaningful relationships, their future academic or professional success, and any desire to make the world a better place. In the words of Will, age 20:

In my AP classes, I was always one of five guys. The same five guys in a classroom of girls. I had plenty of guy friends who could have taken those classes but they didn’t want to do it. They’d rather be the best among the mediocre. Really my friends would rather look stupid.

Two years ago, I decided to pull back the curtain on Boy World—a place I knew was much more complex than most people believe. (more…)

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NightoftheCometby George Bishop, author of The Night of the Comet: A Novel (Ballantine Books, July 2013)

In my new novel The Night of the Comet, the protagonist is a high school science teacher in a small Louisiana town, circa 1973.  Frustrated in his work, belittled by his family, mocked by his students, he hitches his aspirations to what he believes will be the astronomical event of the century: the coming of Comet Kohoutek.

For my portrayal of Alan Broussard, the teacher, I drew on my own experience in the classroom.  I’ve taught English for most of the last two decades—enough time, certainly, to give me a sense of the rigors and rewards of teaching, and also to raise my esteem of those who have been doing it even longer, and in more difficult circumstances, than I have.

I was also inspired, in my story of Alan, by movies I’ve seen that feature teachers as heroes—but not in the way you might expect.   (more…)

Let the Great World Spin HCNew York Times writer Joel Lovell has written a thoughtful piece on Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin (Random House), which won the National Book Award, and a new novel, TransAtlantic (Random House, June 2013).  Titled “Colum McCann’s Radical Empathy,” the profile is set in the recent aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy as McCann travels to the afflicted school to speak to the high school students upon a teacher’s request.   It delves into the value of Let the Great World Spin (which was added to the Newtown high school curriculum) as a transcendent history that can ease the pains of tragedy, “a book that,” Newtown teacher Lee Keylock says, “might help their students begin to make sense of their terrible shock and grief.”  From there, the article moves into McCann’s own life, crossing briefly into McCann’s childhood in Ireland, to his desire as a writer to work in “the blurred spaces between fiction and nonfiction.”  Granting insight into McCann’s humor, gravity, and ambition, the piece permits a glimpse into the life of the man who writes, while “‘in the cupboard,'” about the magnitude of the world.

Click here to read the full New York Times article.

Click here for more information about Colum McCann.

Click here for information about the author’s speaking engagements.

Quiet by Susan CainSusan Cain’s acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Quiet, is now in paperback. Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves. This week, Educational Leadership, the flagship publication of ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) said this about the book: “Quiet will help teachers who hope to make classrooms more welcoming to introverted kids gain a greater understanding of how highly reserved children operate, how to respectfully coax them out, and how to help them learn to work comfortably in groups—in school and out.”  We couldn’t agree more. And to read Susan’s article, “What Do Teachers Really Think of Quiet Students?, click here.

Not Quite Adults by Richard Settersten and Barbara E. Ray

by Richard Settersten, co-author of Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood, and Why It’s Good for Everyone (Bantam, 2010)

One of the inescapable burdens of being an educator relates to this simple truth: We grow older, but our students are forever young. Yet, as new students file into our classrooms each year, we’re aware of a complementary truth: Just because our students are always young doesn’t mean they’re always the same. Recent years have brought a seismic shift in the kinds of students we face.

Anchored in nearly a decade of collaborative research conducted by an interdisciplinary team of scientists assembled by the MacArthur Foundation (myself included), Not Quite Adults provides an intimate look at today’s young people.

Writing this book with my co-author, Barbara Ray, has changed how I teach and relate to my college students. Here are a few lessons that will be helpful for high school teachers, too: (more…)

The Social Animal by David Brooks

Several years ago I did some reporting on why so many kids drop out of high school, despite all rational incentives. That took me quickly to studies of early childhood and research on brain formation. Once I started poking around that realm, I found that people who study the mind are giving us an entirely new perspective on who we are and what it takes to flourish.

We’re used to a certain story of success, one that emphasizes getting good grades, getting the right job skills and making the right decisions. But these scientists were peering into the innermost mind and shedding light on the process one level down, in the realm of  emotions, intuitions, perceptions, genetic dispositions and unconscious longings.

I’ve spent several years with their work now, and it’s changed my perspective on everything. In this book, I try to take their various findings and weave them together into one story. This is not a science book. I don’t answer how the brain does things. I try to answer what it all means. I try to explain how these findings  about the deepest recesses of our minds should change the way we see ourselves, raise our kids, conduct business, teach, manage our relationships and practice politics. This story is based on scientific research, but it is really about emotion, character, virtue and love.

We’re not rational animals, or laboring animals; we’re social animals. We emerge out of relationships and live to penetrate each other’s souls.