Maverick Education

lincolnThat’s “maverick” with a lower case M. I just finished reading a book that I’m hoping to convince a few teachers, students, and parents to join me in discussing, “How Lincoln Learned to Read” by Daniel Wolff.

Taking as his starting point the line from Henry Adams: “What part of education has … turned out to be useful and what not”, Wolff follows the education of a dozen Americans from Ben Franklin to Elvis Presley, and the result is a book that got me thinking about the reasons we teach both what and how we teach.

On the cusp of major change in American education, and with the realization that very often we educators say we’re on the cusp of major change in education, these stories provided nice examples of that maverick spirit that propels individuals to learn what they need to know.

Conventionality isn’t a common theme in the educations presented in this book, and as a person who has spent a couple of decades in education, I’ve seen a parade of spirits kindred to the young Jack Kennedy, misbehaving in class and the teenaged Rachel Carson, truant more than she should have been, as she wandered through the hills above the Allegheny River valley.

Rachel and Jack would have ended up in my office.

What then does this say about our work as educators, and parents, and students? I’ve got some opinions, thoughts about how resiliency, relevance, and rigor forge success, how great teaching works magic, and how connections make more difference than almost anything else.

I’m curious what others in our LCC community think. So…

This is a book I’ll urge colleagues, parents, and students to pick up over the summer; it’s a quick read, perfect for a summer hammock, and one I’d love to engage folks in discussion on when we come back in the fall.