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Cautionary Tale for the Successful
How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In, by Jim Collins

How the Mighty Fall complements the research and theories promoted in Collins' Good to Great. The work is especially striking because Collins addresses how several of the "Great" companies in Good to Great fell. Providing compelling examples of how successful business cultures spiral downward-- the victims of hubris and the undisciplined pursuit of inessential programs-- the book offers an ironic epilogue to his other work. Not entirely fatalistic, Collins also gives several examples of companies that started the descent and were able to turn the cycle around. The appendices include detailed examples of companies and their declines, including an update on Fannie Mae (one of the "Great" companies that descended in 2008-09). Given the economic turmoil of the last two years, such research and framing will resonate with independent school leaders--and most certainly with members of our boards.

Phillip Peck, The Holderness School, NH
  HarperCollins, 2009  
  May, 2010 VOL 13



Coordinating Editor, Associate Head of the Brearley School, New York, NY

Head of the Park School of Buffalo, NY

Assistant Head, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM

Principal of the Child Study Institute, University of Toronto, Canada

Head of the Carey School, San Mateo, CA

Klingenstein Center Director

Klingbrief is a free, monthly publication of recommended articles, books, research reports and media selected by and for independent school educators.  The Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership provides graduate programs and professional development for independent school educators throughout their careers. For more information about submitting to Klingbrief, please click here.
  This is our final Klingbrief for the 2009-10 school year. We will resume publication in September.
Happy summer reading!
eyeball   Science Treats for Early Educators!
Eyeballs in the Fridge: Sources of Early Interest in Science, by Adam V. Maltesea and Robert H. Tai

Efforts to spark interest in careers in science often occur in middle school.  According to this study of graduate students and scientists in chemistry and physics, this may be too late.  The study is important because its subjects are a population that has made a career commitment to science. Using qualitative interviews, the study sought to answer three questions: What was the timing of their initial interest in science? Who was responsible for sparking that interest? What was the nature of the initial experiences? The majority in both genders said that initial interest in science occurred prior to entering middle school. Another important finding is that aside from interest stimulated at home, school-based factors played a key role in sparking initial interest in science (40%), with women in the study more likely than men to mention teachers as the source of their initial interest. Respondents claimed that multiple sparks lit the flame, including tinkering with electronics, conducting home experiments and reading, particularly about space. Schools that are igniting science interest through early education programs may want to track the number of students who take advanced science classes later in high school and the number who ultimately elect science as a career.

Pearl Rock Kane, Klingenstein Center, NY
  International Journal of Science Education, Vol. 32, No. 5, 15 March 2010; Indiana University, USA; University of Virginia, USA  
TedMath   A Passion for Math
Making Math Matter: Re-thinking How We Teach Math
Dan Meyer (video)

A passionate educator and Google curriculum fellow, Dan Meyer is deeply committed to developing patient problem solvers through relevant curriculum. This twelve minute presentation, originally delivered at the TEDxNYED event in March of 2010, illuminates the ways in which Meyer engages students with real-life scenarios in order to enhance authentic learning and engagement in his math classroom. Troubled with students' aversion to word problems, eagerness for formula, and lack of perseverance, initiative, and retention of math concepts, Meyer advocates for an educational approach where conversation and inquiry drive student discovery. His website ( serves as an excellent resource for math teachers and an inspiration for all educators who believe in the power of re-thinking curriculum to address innovative ways of learning.

Megan Howard, Ed.M Candidate, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY
  TEDxNYED, March 2010  
boostingBrain   Safer than Nicotine, Better than Coffee?
Boosting Brain Power

Is ADHD stimulant use more like using steroids on a sports team or drinking coffee before a business meeting? An increasing number of university students are using drugs not to get high but to improve their capacity for learning. This 60 Minutes episode, profiling the University of Kentucky, exposes the increased use of Adderall and other stimulants by college students to boost brain-power and "make the grade." Surprised by the common use of stimulants on campus, Professor Alan DeSantis studied student perceptions, finding that a majority of students don't view it as harmful or negative but rather similar to "a stiff cup of coffee" and "safer than beer or cigarettes." Although troubled by the use of stimulants, Dr. Martha Farah and other leading psychiatrists and ethicists reject standard ethical arguments against stimulants and call for public policies that promote safe use. Most readers would agree that this episode is equally pertinent to secondary educators; the use of stimulant medication both prescribed and under the radar is a fact of life in our schools.

Jeremy Birk, Ed.M. Candidate, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY
  CBS, 60 Minutes, April 25, 2010 and Nature, December 2008  
gutenberg2   Disrupting the Library
Gutenberg 2.0 - Harvard's Libraries Deal with Disruptive Change, by Jonathan Shaw

Like every educational institution, independent schools need to provide professional development opportunities to bridge the gap between digital natives and immigrants. And since technology evolves faster than institutional culture, schools must wrestle with how to handle the magnitude of information readily available to students, cope with the ethical implications of social networking, and create a media literacy curriculum that meets the evolving needs of students. In this article, Shaw contemplates the future of libraries in the digital age. At the center of the discussion is Harvard's massive library system, which stands as both a symbolic and literal example of the fate of libraries to come. Beyond discussing the future relevance of physical texts, Shaw raises some key questions about the impact of projects like Google Book Search (GBS) on the skill sets of librarians as curators of information and its implications for the budgetary management and governance of libraries. The article also explores the tension between the invaluable role of digital libraries in creating rapid and global accessibility to information, and the concern that they do not offer essential "frameworks of prominence" -- a context for the cultural and social value of a piece of information. Gutenberg 2.0 challenges the reader to consider the rapidly transforming nature of both the seeker and the keeper of information, and to wrestle with determining which skills we will come to value in a digitized world.

Belinda Nicholson, Ed.M Candidate, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY
  Harvard Magazine, May/June, 2010  
  If You Build It, They Will Come
The Third Teacher: 79 Ways You Can Use Design to Transform Teaching & Learning, by OWP/P Architects, VS Furniture, and Bruce Mau Design

At first glance, educators might overlook this gem of a book unless they were engaged in the process of building a new facility or with the renovation of existing spaces. Don't be misled into thinking that is all this wondrous examination of the relationship between teaching, learning, and physical spaces has to offer. Following a brief introduction by Dr. David Orr, the brilliant chair of the Environmental Studies Program at Oberlin College, the authors offer a sampling of ideas and proposals which are aimed at bringing our architectural thinking about schools into the new century. Laid out in a format reminiscent of the Whole Earth Catalog, the book contains provocative interviews with a diverse group of educational leaders including Sir Kenneth Robinson, Howard Gardner, David Suzuki, and Ninive Calegari, the innovative co-founder with Dave Eggers of the writing center, 826 Valencia, in San Francisco. There is so much goodness in this blueprint for contemporary schooling, which begins with the premise that the environment, whether a building or natural space, is our students' third teacher.

Peter Schmidt, Gill St. Bernard's School, NJ
  Adams, New York  
  Diane Ravitch Takes a Different Path
The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education, by Diane Ravitch

In this book, Diane Ravitch offers yet another study of the effects of the testing and standards movement on both private and public schools. Yet this text has galvanized attention because it presents a somewhat different argument than she has posed in the past. The current impact of school choice, she argues, has increased the achievement gap among the nation's children. The book also discusses several high-profile models of school administration in cities like New York, San Diego and Washington DC. Of particular interest to Klingbrief readership, she also compares private school student outcomes to those of high-performing public schools. Her research, which offers seasoned insights into the role of school leaders and teachers in shaping educational culture and policy, suggests that school renewal must be based on an excellent curriculum, effective assessments and well-educated teachers. Independent school educators seeking to understand the future role of their schools, particularly in urban areas where some schools are entering partnerships with public schools, may find this book particularly appealing.

Katalyn Vidal, Ed.M Candidate, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY
  New York: Basic Books, 2010  
  Reviewing a Landmark Theory on its 25th Birthday
MI at 25: Assessing the Impact and Future of Multiple Intelligences for Teaching and Learning, by Brandon Shearer, Ed.

With chapters contributed by a Who's Who in education, psychology and neuroscience, this book brings us a range of perspectives about what the theory of multiple intelligences has meant to educators and schools since Howard Gardner's Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences was published in 1983. With chapters by Howard Gardner, Noam Chomsky, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Linda Darling-Hammond, Maxine Greene, Deborah W. Meier, Ellen Winner and others, this book brings depth and balance to a discussion that is often polarized and it seeks to answer the questions that a review of MI in theory and in practice must address. Will MI survive across time as a robust and evidence-based theory? Are there obstacles to the uptake of MI across cultures? How would classroom practice, school reform, and student success be changed if MI were even more widely understood and effectively applied? The book holds Multiple Intelligences to the light of its 25 year history, and in so doing advances our thinking about classroom practice, individual learners and the future of one of the most frequently sited, but often imperfectly understood, educational theories of our era.

Elizabeth Morley, Institute of Child Study, University of Toronto, Canada
  Teachers College Press, September 2009  
  Leadership and Social Media
Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, by Charlene Li

In Charlene Li's latest book, the author extends her earlier work on the ubiquity of social networking to include how it influences the way we lead organizations. Li's basic premise is that leaders must give up more control in a socially networked work environment in order to create open organizations where the free flow of ideas is paramount. As noted in the book's description, "By embracing social media, leaders can transform their organizations to become more effective, decisive and ultimately more profitable in the new era of openness in the marketplace." Through concrete examples and case studies of organizations that have harnessed the benefits of social networking, Li illustrates ways that organizations can embrace this new technology instead of bemoaning its existence.

Eric Temple, The Carey School, CA
  Jossey-Bass, 2010  

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