Klingbrief

A carefully-curated collection of reader-submitted books, articles, and resources for educators.

In 2009, the Klingenstein Center launched Klingbrief, a free monthly e-newsletter containing readings of particular relevance to independent and international school educators.

Current Issue: Vol 105 - November 2021

Book

Of Note: To the Broken Places . . . and Back

Mia Birdsong's book has inspired uncommon enthusiasm among reviewers. It is an excellent book for any time but the perfect one for right now. Each word in the book's title aptly carries its share of the author's message, with emphasis on both "How" and "We." Showing up is intentional and collaborative, something we do for each other and allow others to do for us. Birdsong is both highly inviting and deeply disrupting of the status quo. She points out with urgency that what she calls the American Dream version of success is predicated on winners and losers, thereby creating a loneliness that is often unspoken yet always costly. Birdsong uses examples, interviews, opinions from thought leaders, and reasoned analysis to direct our attention to the broken places in our own contexts. She makes it not only okay to need each other, but also important that we do. When the institutions of our society, schools among them, can't give us what we need, Birdsong argues that genuine community often can, providing the kind of solidarity that does not leave others unfed, literally or figuratively. Her chapters are specific and could jumpstart plans for action among educators. She addresses how to begin to deepen connections, how to listen to longing, how to know others, and allow ourselves to be known, and how naming what racial reckoning and inclusion can look like frees us to navigate away from divisive structures and toward nourishment. How We Show Up sets the table for home to be wherever we find family, friendships, and community.

Read More
Submitted by
Elizabeth Morley, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Lab School, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
Leadership Practice
Psychology & Human Development
Article

Among the Creative Class

"How the Bobos Broke America" by David Brooks 
The Atlantic, August 2, 2021

For educators who read Bobos in Paradise twenty years ago and for those who didn't, David Brooks has done it again: in this intelligent and complex reflection, Brooks extends his research and synthesizes old and new learning about 'the creative class' and its domination of culture. He cites Jonathan Rauch's naming of "the epistemic regime – the massive network of academics and analysts who determine what is true." Elite education lies at the heart of the phenomenon Brooks describes; whether or not educators agree with his precepts, Brooks makes a compelling (and ambitious) argument linking elite education, the myth of meritocracy, migration to big cities, politics, and privilege and power. As sociology or as a thought experiment, this piece is a provocative read. "How could people with high-end powerboats possibly think of themselves as the downtrodden?" Brooks asks. "The truth is, they are not totally crazy." Brooks places himself among the creative class he critiques, and he reflects on what he got wrong in his book twenty years ago. Essentially, he believes that the creative class has failed to accept leadership responsibilities and failed to earn legitimacy and trust. Brooks offers provocations, including the idea that elite education is ultimately individualistic and self-serving, that "the meritocracy seems more and more morally vacuous," and that we must dismantle the current system. Educators in independent education will benefit from grappling with his ideas.

Read More
Submitted by
Meghan Tally, Woodlawn School, Moorseville, NC
Current Events & Civic Engagement
Psychology & Human Development
Article

Especially Teenagers

The Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum of many schools targets elementary school age students, and while some activities in these programs may still engage middle school students, these kinds of lessons don't always feel relevant or engaging to teenagers or older adolescents. Arianna Prothero explores this quandary, while presenting new data from the EdWeek Research Center. At the beginning of the school year, a nationally representative sample of middle and high school students reflected on "whether or not they felt they were being taught important SEL skills and given the support needed to build relationships and understand their identities." The results of the survey were mixed, but a key finding was that teachers tended to have a higher estimation that adults were supporting students in finding their identity than students did, with 40% of teachers completely agreeing that this work was supported, and 23% of students agreeing this was the case. Many students indicated that they needed more guidance in this area, as well as around developing positive relationships, sexual identity, and/or sex education. This work is incredibly significant, as it reminds us that having SEL lessons or adopting a specific approach does not always equal success – to be truly attuned to the needs of our students, we should be regularly receiving their feedback and including their thoughts in the planning process. It is essential that schools thoughtfully consider how to create SEL programs for the developmental age of their students, especially teenagers, who need more guidance in making decisions and growing into their identities.

Read More
Submitted by
Michelle Tursellino, Avenues: the World School, New York, NY
Gender & Sexual Identity
Social-Emotional Learning
Student Wellness & Safety
Podcast

How are You? Really

New View EDU Podcast, Episode 8: Schools as Practice Zones for Adulting by Tim Fish and Lisa Kay Solomon with Julie Lythcott-Haims
NAIS, September 28, 2021

Julie Lythcott-Haims, Stanford-Dean-turned-NY-Times-bestselling-author, speaks as frankly to caring adults as she did when she published How To Raise An Adult in 2015. In August, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) launched the New View EDU podcast with the premise that "evolving challenges require compassionate and dynamic solutions." Lythcott-Haims' episode, "Schools as Practice Zones for Adulting," is especially relevant as school leaders manage the tension between providing excellent learning opportunities and support while simultaneously acknowledging the additional challenges our communities are navigating. Lythcott-Haims' reminders about what is truly important resonate: children and adults who can adapt will be "wildly thriving;" human connection is deliberate and at the heart of the work; resilience is built by acknowledging the struggle. Discovering the spaces and times when people can't be authentic is a guidepost to work that must be undertaken with humility. Such work can stem from small gestures like asking "How are you? No, really?" and making time and space to listen. Encouraging and vulnerable, Lythcott-Haims reminds us that imperfect adults who are still making our way play a vital role in schools. Lisa Kay Solomon sums it up: "More than anything, [Lythcott-Haims] roots for all humans and is deeply interested in all of us making it and getting through what gets in our way."

Read More
Submitted by
Bridget McGivern, Emma Willard School, Troy, NY
Teaching Practice
Leadership Practice
Student Wellness & Safety
Book

Reality Based Communities

The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth by Jonathan Rauch
Brookings Institution Press, June 21, 2021

In his engaging new book, The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth, Jonathan Rauch explores the growing challenge of separating facts from fiction and feelings from facts in an age of disinformation, conspiracy theories, "alternative facts," and information bubbles. Rauch provides the reader with chilling examples of our fraying social world, from internet trolls out to turn elections, to reactive, feeling-driven mobs of the zealous "woke" on social media, and college campuses seeking to stamp out "problematic" views in the name of social justice. While these examples are easy to graft onto the extremes of the US political spectrum, Rauch does not naively call for a return to a gentler, moderate centrism. Rauch's solution, instead, is to return to what he calls the "Constitution of Knowledge," which he defines as "liberalism's epistemic operating system: our social rules of turning disagreements into knowledge." To make the case for this return, Rauch brings the reader back to the 18th century Enlightenment origins of this "operating system" to trace out the hard-fought battles to establish institutions, norms, and communities that constituted and can continue to constitute what he calls the "reality based community:" a community that celebrates "objectivity, factuality, rationality…" and is equipped to freely exchange, debate, and refine ideas collectively for the sake of truth and the betterment of humanity. Teachers and administrators would benefit from considering how to ensure that their schools become mini "reality-based communities," so that our students are equipped to understand and work to overcome the power of this dominating epistemic crisis.

Read More
Submitted by
Peter Hatala, Emma Willard School, Troy, NY
Current Events & Civic Engagement
Report

Flight or Fight

"Great Attrition" or "Great Attraction"? The choice is yours by Aaron De Smet, Bonnie Dowling, Marino Mugayar-Baldocchi, and Bill Schaninger
McKinsey Quarterly, September 1, 2021

During the previous academic year, many schools experienced higher than normal faculty turnover. Now that the adrenaline from a new school year has worn off, some faculty who didn't leave wish they had. As teachers contemplate other options – including new attractive and flexible options in other industries – and administrators brace for more turnover, this article and a study by McKinsey & Company offer promise in the midst of an uncertain employment forecast. By including broad global and industry perspective, and including education, the article provides great insight into why many employees feel burned out and discouraged. The peak of teacher resignations has likely not been reached. The authors warn that "even among educators – the employees least likely to say they may quit – almost one-third reported that they are at least somewhat likely to do so." How administrators listen and how they respond can greatly affect turnover. Hiding within the great resignation, in fact, is an opportunity to connect with faculty and to help them re-engage with school missions. School leaders who are able to listen effectively and respond accordingly may find an opportunity for competitive advantage. At the very least, discussions generated from this research will be helpful as leaders respond to employee engagement in a rapidly changing educational environment.

Read More
Submitted by
Davidson R. Hobson, Gaston Day School, Gastonia, NC
Covid-19
Leadership Practice
Book

Microcosms and Epicenters

Textured Teaching: A Framework for Culturally Sustaining Practices by Lorena Escoto Germán
Heinemann, September 10, 2021

As Lorena Escoto Germán argues in Textured Teaching: A Framework for Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, there are five hallmarks of an anti-oppressive classroom that center the intersection of learning and social justice: it is student-driven, community-centered, interdisciplinary, experiential, and flexible. Drawing from her own experience attending a high school comprised primarily of a Latinx student body whose culture, values, and interests were absent from the classroom content, Germán offers teachers a culturally-sustaining framework. It both invites students to bring their most authentic selves into the classroom and prompts teachers to identify how course content can inform equity and justice work. Germán challenges teachers to reimagine their classrooms as microcosms for social change. Such work begins, she suggests, with four brief yet profound questions, including "What will I make sure I do consistently to have positive impact in the classroom and in our school building as I strive for change?" At its core, Textured Teaching places urgency upon the need for independent and public educational practitioners to recognize that anti-oppressive classrooms can be the epicenter of social change if students are challenged and supported in "develop[ing] a sense of cultural proficiency" and led to "deconstruct the harmful practices our society has socialized us all into."

Read More
Submitted by
MarQuis Lebron Chappell, The Harpeth Hall School, Nashville, TN
DEIJ
Teaching Practice

EDITORIAL BOARD

STEPHEN J. VALENTINE
Coordinating Editor
Assistant Head, Upper School, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ

JESSICA FLAXMAN
Dean of Faculty and Employees, Rye Country Day School, Rye, NY

NICOLE FURLONGE
Professor and Director, Klingenstein Center, New York, NY

JONATHAN GOLD
Middle School History Teacher/Expert Thinking Tri-Clerk, Moses Brown School, Providence, RI

CHRIS LAURICELLA
Head of School, The Albany Academies, Albany, NY

STEPHANIE LIPKOWITZ
Associate Head, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM

JESSICA MAY
Associate Director for Strategic Marketing and Communications, Klingenstein Center, New York, NY

ELIZABETH MORLEY
Principal Emerita, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School, University of Toronto, Canada

MEGHAN TALLY
Upper School Director, Woodlawn School, Mooresville, NC

Klingbrief Actions

Subscribe to Klingbrief

Sign up using our Contact Us form to receive Klingbrief in your email inbox.

Submit to Klingbrief

Submit a review of a current book, article, or online resource of interest to educators.

View the Klingbrief Archives

Read issues of Klingbrief from Vol 1 - February 2009 through the most current issue.