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Books Are Good

Dr. Randy Watts
Not all books are good, of course. Much of what I read has to do with education and parenting; there are stacks of books written about these areas that are, at best, useless, and at worst, downright harmful.

For this reason, I would like to share with you a few titles that I have read recently that have influenced my thinking:
“Books are good.”

This three-word sentence was uttered by my father, Randy Watts, Sr. (or, as many call him — the “real Randy Watts”), many years ago. The statement was made in the midst of the fatigue of helping me move into an apartment in graduate school. At that moment, it was not a particularly deep thought; rather, it was an exhausted effort to wrap his mind around the fact that he had to help carry boxes upon boxes of books into my temporary domicile.

The simple statement, however, has become increasingly profound in our family. We are influenced by concepts and ideas that leap from the pages of some books. A good book can help you develop new frameworks and ideologies. Books can help you help the lives of others.

Not all books are good, of course. Much of what I read has to do with education and parenting; there are stacks of books written about these areas that are, at best, useless, and at worst, downright harmful.

For this reason, I would like to share with you a few titles that I have read recently that have influenced my thinking:

The Essential 55, by Ron Clark. The Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta is a model school run by two of the most brilliant educators on the planet. Co-Founders Ron Clark and Kim Beardon have both written and spoken extensively about teaching and learning. All of Brookwood’s faculty read this book over the summer, and it has inspired our work with students at Brookwood.

The Essential 55 offers concrete tools that any parent can use with their children to create an environment of discipline, fun, and creativity.

The Gift of Failure, by Jessica Lahey. We live in an era where many of the common sense tenets of parenting are being usurped by overprotection and a fear of failure. This book helps frame how we got here and what we can do to allow our children to grow through learning from failure and struggle, rather than by  avoiding it. Provocative chapter titles like “Household Duties: Laundry as an Opportunity for Competence,” and “Sports: Losing as an Essential Childhood Experience” engage the reader to press on.

Reclaiming Conversation, by Sherry Turkle. Have you ever had a meaningful conversation interrupted by a text or a call? Did you know that even having a cell phone on the table during a conversation can have a negative impact on the quality of the conversation? Have you ever noticed that sometimes adults pay more attention to their phones than to their children?

Technology is evolving at a much greater rate than our social patterns. While technology is inherently neither good nor bad, the unmoderated use of technology by children and adolescents can have an negative impact on important aspects of their development. This book provides insightful ideas about how to reclaim conversation in an era of distraction.

Change by Design, by Tim Brown. Are you a fan of FOI (Foundations of Innovation)? Have you wondered how an idea can turn into a t-shirt slingshot for cheerleaders or a misting mechanism for overheated football players? This book outlines design thinking, which is employed by many of America’s most innovative companies and is the blueprint for the FOI class.

The book offers a lot of thought-provoking ideas about how people can work together to come up with new ideas and move toward a common goal. It contains one of my favorite lines about the power of collaboration — “All of us are smarter than any of us.”


Enjoy!



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Located in Thomasville, GA, Brookwood School is a private school for grades JK-12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.