If you've come across the COVID data app, you've probably come across Tim Spector who heads it up out of Kings London. Alongside the COVID app, Tim Spector does research into the gut microbiome. Robert Plomin is the co-chair, along with Tim, of the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) where Tim is researching the impact of nature/nurture on health and wellbeing, Robert does the same with academic and career outcomes. I think it's safe to say that Robert's research is arguably the more controversial. If you've ever read anything about the history of IQ and the concept of categorising people by their aptitude, you will know it has an abhorrent genesis. That said, I found myself nodding to quite a lot of this - after all, ability being innate is a concept that has not gone away and something more than just nurture is driving our difference. To add to the controversy perhaps, Plomin takes the view that DNA is the new predictor of ability and outcomes. Some of what he says, particularly about equality of opportunity, is frankly underdeveloped and risks being offensive to many as a result. But, I don't think his research is one we can ignore. Worth the read!
Some may say reading six books by one author in a similar number of days would put me in the obsessive/compulsive category. I say, love makes us do crazy things sometimes. And love is how I would describe the work of Brené Brown. Without doubt, her research and publications have changed my life - both professionally and personally. She one of the most watched TED speakers and her work is nothing short of profound: she makes the complex so incredibly simple and accessible. The book stack is in order, bottom to top. But if you want to get the idea before starting on the full roast, here's one of her TED talks and you can find out a lot more on her website, too. https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability
If you're looking for a good book to curl up on the sofa with, under a blanket with a nice cup of coffee, then this book is NOT it. It's not even the one you read for a little bit of challenge. This book is full-on deep research territory, using words which I kept having to look up. That said, it was deeply impacting and one which will underpin much of the next phase of my action research SEND approach. For sure, I will have much more to say on this in the coming months.
I came across Dr Marc Brackett through the Brené Brown podcast (Ok, yes, I admit it, I'm slightly obsessed!) You can listen to it here: https://brenebrown.com/podcast/dr-marc-brackett-and-brene-on-permission-to-feel/ And he also has an amazing app called the Mood Meter https://moodmeterapp.com/ which I have faithfully been inputting my mood data into for the past 112 days and counting. (Fascinating and scary- who knew I had weekly patterns of mood??! Don't say it! My husband maybe! Ha!) Anyway, this book's premise is that emotion is such a powerful underlier to everything that unless we Recognise, Understand, Label, Express and Regulate it (RULER) then we are likely to continue to be contained by it. Dr Marc is a surviver of sexual abuse and the current Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. It's powerful work and well worth exploring his podcasts, app and book.
This book has been on my radar for a while - it's a catchy title, right?! Something about it really didn't make me want to read it though. So I've avoided it until the first week of Lockdown, when basically we all could no longer avoid the things we had successfully been avoiding. I haven't finished it, but that's not to say I haven't enjoyed it (so far). The analogy of a chimp living in your mind controlling your emotions (or for those who are a little more neuro-savvy, our Limbic System) is a memorable one. I have found myself picturing my chimp dancing around when my tummy is growling for a biscuit or when I'm simmering about something that's upset me. I will go back to this book again when I've finished my current 'shame' obsession, but until then, I still don't know what to do with my chimp when that chocolate digestive is calling my name!
This is a really practical book but with excellent background to the practices we can all perform in order to rewire our brains. It's of course closely linked to the topics explored in the work of Steve Peters with our Chimps, but it's more approachable and less simplistic for those who are keen to get under the skin of mental health. This book has certainly been eye-opening for me, both personally and professionally, and although it's long and there may be other books out there more appropriate for SENCOs with regards mental health, this is certainly one I've been enjoying.
Erm. Read this.
It won't just have you fizzing at the injustice. It'll give you a clear sense of the importance of talking about gender inequality. Don't get me wrong, by talking about gender inequality I am not pledging allegiance to gender over (dis)ability or race. This book is vital in changing the disability story. After all, which people group are most commonly fighting the good fight for equality and justice in the education sector?
I LOVE Gladwell books, but this one - despite all its Gladwell charm - failed to really excite me. There were parts which were really difficult to read: why people overlooked a paedophile for eight years, despite a graphic eye witness account. It made me question myself as a practitioner... could that have happened at one of my schools?! I'd like to believe not. There were parts which were interesting, but -dare I say it - quite obvious. So, all in all, if you've time to spare, I'd read one of his other books - Outliers remains my favourite.
If you've never read a Gladwell, get thyself to the nearest Waterstones now. I think he might be my favourite author. Gladwell explains and analyses the 'tipping point' when ideas, trends, social behaviours cross a threshold, tip and spread like wildfire. Anything from syphilis to crime rates, shoe sales to cult books. I always learn something new from Gladwell. My absolute favourite book of his is 'Outliers' though. All teachers should read it.
I didn't think I was a feminist. I think I've just thought that women should be brilliant and shine on, letting their outcomes speak for themselves and spend less time talking about it. And then I read this book. I wasn't overly keen on the chapters about how Mary Portas has structured her own company (although there were some interesting points) but I was incensed when I read some of the statistics around female employment and the very significant impact that not having women in positions of senior leadership has on the nation as a whole. I genuinely believe comments like "for the little extras" would never happen if more women were represented at the highest levels of office. Come on ladies - there's work to be done.
I loved this book. If you've ever been interested in what Finland has on us in education terms, then this is a good read. I found it fascinating learning about the education systems from some of the most successful countries identified through PISA testing. This book is enlightening through its highlighting of consistencies and it has persuaded me to question assumptions with systematically argued and well-evidenced points. I think we have a lot to learn from it, especially from the systems in place to enable the weakest learners to achieve better. I loved it so much, I bought the book so I could keep it forever!
Lee Ridley (aka Lost Voice Guy) came to the Generation CAN Awards 2019 to perform. He was awesome and it was a privilege to have him as a guest. Whilst I'd seen Lost Voice Guy perform on TV and knew a bit about his background, I felt it was only right to read his book before meeting him in person! And what a great read it was. My favourite quotation, which fuels my continued belief in the importance of Generation CAN is from page 215. "Success breeds success. It would be nice for every disabled child to realise they have the opportunity to do whatever they like when they grow up. But they'll only believe this if they see other people in a similar situation achieving their goals." The power of telling the story differently.....
I think anyone who is involved in the field of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities will tell you that it can be emotionally exhausting and never-ending. It is my passion to see children and young people with special needs valued as equals and that is something I work towards every day in some shape of form. I was drawn to this book, partly because Goleman and Boyatzis are both authors I know and admire, but also because I wanted to step back from my emotions and re-appreciate the value and the strength in them. I really enjoyed this book.
If you haven't read this book, you must! She is such an incerdible writer: her factual account reads more like a fiction novel. I cried; I laughed; I was so sad when I finished the last paragraph. There are many powerful quotations but this one stood out for me, particularly in relation to the charity I oversee, Generation CAN. “So many of us go through life with our stories hidden, feeling ashamed or afraid when our whole truth doesn’t live up to some established ideal. We grow up with messages that tell us that there’s only one way to be; and that if we’re any different, then we don’t belong. That is, until someone dares to start telling that story differently.” I'd love to see the story of special needs told differently....
I love a good book about neuroscience. This one, I have to say, keeps sending me to sleep! That said, I am really enjoying it. I am reading this book with a deep sense of impending terror about how much sleep affects our health, our learning and our mental well-being. In some ways, it's nothing new; in others, it brings home a very clear message which is hard to ignore. I've given assemblies on it, so much impact has it had on my awareness of the importance of healthy sleep routines on learning outcomes. If you can keep your eyes open, I'd urge you to read it.
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