Read like a rebel

A few weekends ago, at an IB conference in Singapore, I shared my personal journey from being a robot (a compliant student/teacher) to becoming a rebel (a thinker/questioner/challenger).

And a huge part of that journey for me was what I read. So often as educators we read amazing books… but they are usually books that help us do a better job within the system. Books about doing school well, or doing school better, or some even about doing school differently… but often just a little differently.

For me, the biggest shifts in thinking that I had came from books outside the system. From de-schoolers, un-schoolers, home-schoolers and even anti-schoolers. Books that made me critically look at the nature of the institution of school and begin to question some of the things we often assume to be “natural” or “essential” or “untouchable” elements of the education system.

So here are some of the things I read that helped poke and provoke my thinking about teaching, learning, schooling and the rights of the child:

It can be books…

Turning Points

How Children Learn

Pedagogy of the Oppressed


Dumbing us Down

De-Schooling Society

It can be blogs:

Alfie Kohn blog

It can be Tweeters:

Bruce L Smith

It’s any reading material that gets you thinking, makes you question, gets you angry. The type of reading material that fires you up and gives you the confidence to look at school and say “that’s not okay”. The type of reading material that doesn’t shy away from challenging those “untouchable” elements of the school system.

The type of reading material that makes you feel unafraid to fail, be different or get in trouble.

What are your favourite “rebel reads” that I should add to the list?

5 thoughts on “Read like a rebel

  1. Amen to this. I’m constantly stunned by the lack of interest for digging into books and blogs that challenge our thinking among ‘professional’ educators.

    A few I would recommend:
    -Modern Learners:
    -Most Likely to Succeed (form your own Committee of Ten!):
    -This Tony Wagner keynote speech:


  2. I agree with the Modern Learners – Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon have got a lot of good stuff on there. I particularly like an older publication of Will’s called “Why School?”. I am also am a big fan of Seth Godin and his Education Manifesto, Stop Stealing Dreams. I also like Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. And more recently, Mitchel Resnick’s Lifelong Kindergarten. This last one…..I love it. Thanks for sharing your book list – will be looking for these at school tomorrow!


  3. I an REALLY not much of a reader unless something really, really grabs me. I think as a kid the only thing I really read were “Karen Books” (Babysitter’s Little Sister” and then as a young adult was the Hunger Games, but even that was very conditional… I couldn’t manage it through the school year. Had to be on a long break like summer and it would take me a long time to get through the book.

    Recently, though, I have really been inspired by some professional development books for teachers. Flying through them fast than I have ever read before (though probably still slower than most people). I am finding them incredibly inspiring and just can’t stop! I think learning on twitter has made me addicted to learning about learning! haha. While these books are still more aimed for innovating within “mainstream” schools, they are still about pushing boundaries in their own ways and are inspiring me to keep going!

    So far the top two I recommend re:

    Social LEADia – Jennifer-Casa Todd. ( I really believe every teacher should read this. And possibly every parent! It is so inspiring and shows how true tech integration can affect students lives possibly. It is also an amazing example of modelling/teaching digital citizenship in authentic ways (no stand alone lessons on paper that they forget).

    Learn Like a Pirate – Paul Solarz. ( A great example of a teacher pushing his own boundaries and creating a wonderful community of learners in his student-led classroom. Little tips and tricks to sneak into your own practice and a whole lot of things to lead towards agency.

    Next read is Shift This – Joy Kirr. ( It looks to be like another good student-led conversation!


  4. Thanks Tarryn for your inspirational address at #IBSG2018 and for your follow-up actions . . . this included. Also thank you for sharing your reads, there are a couple on that list that I will certainly check out myself.
    I agree that being “poked” and provoked through our readings (whether they be from a book, blog post or whatever) is important to keep us questioning, re-imagining and “fighting” the good fight.
    One blog I have followed over time is Modern Learners and one of my favourite posts is this one


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