Inspiring Books Review

I received these books for free for purposes of my review.

I don’t know about you, but, when I’m stressed, one thing that really helps me in reading some books just for me.

Between work, homeschooling kids, and not being able to see anyone or go anywhere, I’m just feeling down. Taking some time for me, to read some books that make me think, has been really helpful.

How to Think Like Shakespeare

Lessons from a Renaissance Education
by Scott Newstok

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author talks about current educational methods and compares them to past, renaissance, educational methods. This book has a nice balance approach to this comparison. In that he isn’t saying that one is right and one is wrong. He’s comparing the different methodologies and how they affect education.

A terrific, thought-provoking book that has encouraged me to approach some areas of my kids education a little differently.

My favorite chapter was Of Imitation. Scott Newstok points out that currently in education we are pushing our kids to achieve or create something new without any foundation behind it. Where in Renaissance education plagiarism was almost encouraged, and out of that, people would create something new (like Shakespeare’s writing) after they had copied a lot of other’s work. Basically, learning by imitation.

This one hit home for me because for Easter – at home because of social distancing – I did a scavenger hunt throughout the house for the kids. Complete with hints that were written out as 4 line poems. Incredibly easy for me to write. My 11 yr old couldn’t get over how awesome it was and it was then that I put it all together.

I memorized a LOT of poetry in middle and high school, I loved poetry, actually, I still do. And for me, writing a couple of rhyming lines just happens. It’s fun, it’s easy, and apparently, my kids think it’s awesome. But it’s easy because I memorized a lot of the classics, like The Village Blacksmith and Paul Revere’s Ride. These poems have great rhyme and I find that I naturally fall into a similar rhyme pattern when I write poetry.

My oldest loves to write, and in her writing class they’ve done a lot of summarizing and then writing in their own words. At this point it’s easy for her, and I’m glad she’s moving on to something more advanced next year. But, there’s so much value in studying good writing and reading other people’s good writing if you want to be a writer. It’s important to have that foundation before you try to create your own building.

There’s many other great chapters in this book. In our current moment, obsession with assessment and teaching to the test produces large amounts of anxiety about education. In How to Think like Shakespeare, Newstok argues that education must be about thinking, not just training a set of specific skills. Education isn’t merely accumulating data nor implementing formulas, machines are way better at that than humans. So if there is one thing humans do better than anything else, it is precisely thinking. And who better embodies thinking than William Shakespeare?

Scott Newstok is a professor of English and founding director of the Pearce Shakespeare Endowment at Rhodes College. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee.

Your Story Matters

Own Your Story and Tell it With Clarity, Conficence, & Impact
by Linda A Olson

This book walks you through how to own your own story and then how to confidently share it with others.

For me, one of the things that stuck out, is that I have a story that’s important to others.

I enjoy sitting back and listening to other’s stories and often have trouble sharing my own. So, after reading this book, I’m challenged to think through some of my stories and really try to share them with others.

Whether it’s just sharing them with my kids at the dinner table or typing them up on my blog. I agree with Olson, each of us has a story to tell that can benefit those around us, and I just need to learn how to tell mine with Clarity, Confidence, and Impact.

And what better time than the present to work on this. When we’re all stuck at home and really the best way for me to communicate with people is through written stories.

I’m excited that not only did I enjoy a great book, I now have something productive to work on!

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