Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Grit by Angela Duckworth (extra book)

When I was meeting with one of the RAs recently, I asked the regular question: What is your favorite book?  As he began to explain the book, which sounded great, he noted he was half-way through with it.  UGH!  Doesn’t count.  You need to read the entire book to become your favorite.  So he gave me another book, but the title stuck in my mind.  One week later after I entered a book store, I found the book and purchased.  I read it when traveling to NYU Paris.  Well, I will say he was right, it’s a great read.  Grit by Angela Duckworth reviews research conducted by others followed by her own research on what makes someone successful.  Surprising to some, it isn’t talent!  Passion and perseverance are the two variables that lead to a higher level of grit in an individual.  Some of the studies that Duckworth employs to support her hypothesis include: West Point Cadets, Spelling Bee Champions, Olympic Swimmers, and what she learns from top performing CEOs.  The book balances quantitative and qualitative information sources.  Her own life story, always being told by her father that she wasn’t the smartest kid in school, made her work harder.  I have often wondered what makes life-long elite performers on the field, in the workplace, and in the classroom.  Duckworth’s work provided some clarity and understanding on the topic.  The personal stories and experiences make the book accessible to all.  I hope to use the lessons learned for my students, and also for how I want to be going forward in becoming the best I can be at whatever I commit to doing.  Great read!

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Federalist Papers

It takes all types of books to make it to this list… including a read that is quite appropriate considering the Presidential election in November.  History buffs will love it, but I’d say all Americans would benefit from reading the book.  It is The Federalist Papers, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay.  It is a series of essays that was written to help ratify the newly written constitution of the United States and focused towards the New York delegation.  The hope for the essays were to educate and convince the delegates why this document was so important for the new nation to pass.  The passages were written with a special focus in different aspects of the constitution.  The main ones included: Why the Union was necessary to the salvation of the country (using Europe as the model not to follow); why the confederation of states at the  time was not working well for the country; the need for a government that would function to keep the states united; the principles that were embedded in the constitution, and why they were right for this set of states; the difference in the governments between the states and the ‘federal’ government; the security that would be gained by the states uniting.  The last section then focused a great deal on the division of power between the judiciary, legislative, and executive levels of government being promoted.  Some of the details within the sections above included: the importance of having a military operation prepared at all times, funded for the states; the importance of unity over division; the importance of taxation to the people; the powers conferred by the constitution; a full description and support for how elections would work (terms of office, how candidates would be elected; states having equal voice, etc.); and why the three levels of government created a checks and balances for the overall running of the government.  With all of the current buzz about Alexander Hamilton, the book reminded me once again, how prolific he was as a writer, and the main man to assist in moving this nation forward.  There is a great deal of redundancy in the essays, as I’m sure that they were really trying to get the points across.  Learning reinforced for me, for others, it might be a great education about the USA and how it formed.