Friday, May 7, 2010

The Essential 55

The name of the author of this book jumped out at me when I first saw it, but my brain just couldn't quite place it. Which meant I had to google it, of course, like everyone else of my generation when they want to find out more about something.

I should have known: Ron Clark, of The Ron Clark Academy, the students of which created that "Vote However You Like" song & dance.

The subtitle for this book says, "An Award-Winning Education's Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child." Fifty-five rules seem a little excessive to me - and there are actually more than that in the book, since many of his rules have sub-rules. Also, to be frank, some of his rules are rather out-dated and culturally insensitive. For example, under "Rule 29: The ABCs of Etiquette":

F. Do not smack your lips and chew noisily. J. Do not slurp. M. You are to use your utensils for eating almost everything.

Although it's applicable to American-style dining manners, I think people need to be more ethnic food savy than that. Perhaps Mr. Clark assume that the individual teacher would have the common sense to teach the appropriate table manners depending on the culture and atmosphere of the diner. I like to think so, since he does have some good tips, and has been an effective teacher in many ways. Maybe it's just that much more important to teach students how their surroundings affect the way people act. It's completely appropriate to slurp Vietnamese noodles, however, I think I would only do it if I were in a Vietnamese food only restaurant. Or Vietnam.

Despite some of the cultural glitches, I was surprised at how encouraged I felt while reading this book. It actually affected my own teaching - I was just so much more energized to do better as a teacher, to do more, to plan increasingly creative learning experiences for my students. It came at a good time too. I was starting to feel a little lackluster in the pedagogy department.

Overall, decent read, if a little culturally un-savy.

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