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Here are the classic books you'll find on everyone's bookshelf, or the books always quoted by other writers, or the books you have promised yourself to read before (or just after) you retire. Some books have become instant classics. It is an honour to be in this cellar! Probably.
This list will never be complete, but I welcome your suggestions for additions to this list of classic books about active or experiential learning.
Freedom to Learn
Carl R. Rogers, H. Jerome Freiberg
"Teaching, in my estimation, is a vastly overrated function.....
I see the facilitation of learning as the aim of education."
The Learning Revolution
Gordon Dryden, Jeannette Vos
An encyclopaedic collection of all the latest ideas in accelerated
learning (and similar).
You can skim read the posters on the left hand pages or get immersed in
the text on the opposite pages. For in depth understanding you will
want to refer to the original sources. The associated
website is impressive and comprehensive. Worldwide sales are huge! (RG)
Jane McGruder Watkins, Bernard J. Mohr
Book Description: For the past 15 years the authors have worked closely with colleagues to develop the emerging issue of Appreciative Inquiry (AI), a process for fostering positive and strength based change, as a theory and practice that can be used by OD professionals and managers/leaders of organizations, groups and communities. They have seeded the AI process across the globe and are now seeing a continually increasing interest in its use. In the light of 15 years of practice adapting AI to many cultures, types of organizations, and multiple "presenting issues," this is now a proven process that OD consultants, organizational leaders and managers, and the academic community are finding eminently innovative, energizing, and useful.
Synopsis: This title combines theory, an explanation of the reason that Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is transformative, and practical designs for various kinds of AI/OD interventions paired with case studies where the interventions have been used successfully. The book includes a complete explanation of AI from its historical and theoretical roots to its practice and impact in organizations presented in the context of the rapidly changing environment in which we live and work. (amazon.co.uk)
Frames of Mind:
The Theory of Multiple Intelligences
This study argues that everybody possesses at least seven intelligences
- ranging from musical intelligence to the intelligence involved in
understanding oneself - most of which have been overlooked in our
testing society. Undermining the common notion that intelligence is a
general capacity that every human being possesses to a greater, or
lesser extent, the author proposes that each person's blend of
competences produces a unique cognitive profile. Seized upon by
educators throughout the world, multiple theory has been applied in
hundreds of classrooms and school districts since this book was first
published. This "Tenth Anniversary Edition" brings the theory
up-to-date. Howard Gardner is the author of "The Unschooled Mind".
Tao of Leadership:
Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching Adapted for a New Age
Reviewed by Roger Greenaway:
This book is definitely about group facilitation - although its
potential application is far broader. Each double page is a single
topic with an image on the left and a few paragaphs on the right. John
Heider is a master of capturing what matters on one side of A5. You
won't find any recipes but you will find plenty of valuable insights.
Good medicine for anxious, intrusive or manipulative facilitators and a
tonic for everyone else. (Roger Greenaway)
The Fifth Discipline
Peter M. Senge
Review: Peter Senge, founder of the Centre for Organisational Learning at MIT's Sloan School of Management, experienced an epiphany while meditating one morning back in the fall of 1987. That was the day he first saw the possibilities of a "learning organisation" that used "systems thinking" as the primary tenet of a revolutionary management philosophy. He advanced the concept into this primer, originally released in 1990, written for those interested in integrating his philosophy into their corporate culture.
The Fifth Discipline has turned many readers into true believers; it remains the ideal introduction to Senge's carefully integrated corporate framework, which is structured around "personal mastery", "mental models", "shared vision", and "team learning". Using ideas that originate in fields from science to spirituality, Senge explains why the learning organisation matters, provides an unvarnished summary of his management principals, offers some basic tools for practising it, and shows what it's like to operate under this system. The book's concepts remain stimulating and relevant as ever. (Howard Rothman, Amazon.com)
Experience as the Source of Learning and Development
David A. Kolb
Kolb's learning cycle
has spawned many unauthorised imitations that misrepresent his
As you might guess from the title he has a theory of experiential
development as well as
a theory of experiential learning. Not bed time reading, but essential
for anyone doing
serious research in this area. Most readers will probably be surprised
to find that
there is very little about cyclical movement, even though his well
known 'circle' is the central
focus of his discussion of the various dynamics of his model of
There is an important 4 page critique of Kolb's theory in John Heron's Feelings
in which Kolb's model is said to downplay the importance of feelings
and intuition in experiential learning.
Despite the range of Kolb's theorising, this generally positivistic
book does not provide an adequate grounding for more holistic
approaches to learning. (reviewed by Roger Greenaway)
View these critiques of Kolb's experiential learning theory and Kolb's answers to questions about his theory.
Chicken Soup for the Soul
Jack Canfield, Victor Mark Hansen
The stories in this publication include examples of the best qualities
of human beings: compassion; grace; forgiveness; generosity; and faith.
Essentially, the book is about the authors sharing a collected wisdom
on love, parenting, teaching, death and the overcoming of obstacles.
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Stephen R. Covey
Presents the reader with a holistic, integrated and principle-centred
approach for solving personal and professional problems.
Review (extract): As with many self-help books, much of what you read here is based on basic common sense and can at times be irritatingly obvious. However, what Covey manages to do so successfully is to break down the barriers which prevent all of us from taking a long hard look at ourselves, and then gradually introduces new rules which allow us to move first from dependence to independence and then towards the ultimate goal of interdependence. But of course, the only real way to test the value of The Habits--be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first, think "win/win", seek first to understand and then to be understood, synergise, sharpen the saw-- is to work on them. This book is as good as any place to start on the road to self-awareness and self-improvement in the workplace and in the home without becoming too irritatingly smug and self-satisfied. (Susan Harrison, Amazon.co.uk)
The Inner Game of Tennis
W. Timothy Gallwey
The first of many 'inner game' books by Gallwey - and by others jumping on the bandwagon. Whereas many other coaching approaches focus directly on what you are trying to achieve, inner game coaching takes your attention elsewhere. Not only does this indirect route result in improved performance, it can also increase enjoyment. (Roger Greenaway)
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Review: Arguably one of
the most profoundly important essays ever written on the nature and
significance of "quality" and definitely a necessary anodyne to the
consequences of a modern world pathologically obsessed with quantity.
Although set as a story of a cross-country trip on a motorcycle by a
father and son, it is more nearly a journey through 2,000 years of
Western philosophy. For some people, this has been a truly
Robert M. Pirsig
Review: Father and son travel across the USA on a motorbike. Dad thinks
hard about values, creativity, philosophy and 'gumptionology'. Need to
fix your bike? This book won't tell you how, but somehow your bike
problem will look different when you get back to it. A wonderful
philosophical journey for non-philosophers. I can even remember bits of
it 25 years on! (Roger Greenaway)
Review: Arguably one of the most profoundly important essays ever written on the nature and significance of "quality" and definitely a necessary anodyne to the consequences of a modern world pathologically obsessed with quantity. Although set as a story of a cross-country trip on a motorcycle by a father and son, it is more nearly a journey through 2,000 years of Western philosophy. For some people, this has been a truly life-changing book.
I'm OK - You're OK
Thomas A. Harris MD
Synopsis: A guide to transactional analysis. In non-technical language, it offers advice on gaining control of yourself, your relationships and your future, no matter what has happened in the past.
Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Paulo Freire, Myra Bergman Ramos (Translator), Richard Shaull
Synopsis: This text argues that the ignorance and lethargy of the poor are the direct result of the whole economic, social and political domination. By being kept in a situation in which it is practically impossible to achieve a critical awareness and response the disadvantaged are kept "submerged". The book suggests that in some countries the oppressors use the system to maintain this "culture of silence". Through the right kind of education, the book suggests, avoiding authoritarian teacher-pupil models and based on the actual experiences of students and on continual shared investigation, every human being, no matter how impoverished or illiterate, can develop a new awareness of self, and the right to be heard. (amazon.co.uk)
Martin E. P. Seligman
Compiles scientific evidence that optimism is vital to overcoming
defeat and exhibits how readers can learn the habit of optimism
necessary for a successful and happy life.
Flow: You can explore Mihaly
Csikszentmihalyi's ideas about flow for free at http://www.deepfun.com
where Dr. Fun (Bernie DeKoven) interviews 'Mike' about 'flow'.
The Psychology of Optimal Experience
What really makes people glad to be alive? What are the inner experiences that make life worthwhile? For more than two decades Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi studied those states in which people report feelings of concentration and deep enjoyment. His studies revealed that what makes experience genuinely satisfying is ‘flow’ a state of concentration so focused that it amounts to complete absorption in an activity and results in the achievement of a perfect state of happiness.Flow has become the classic work on happiness and a major contribution to contemporary psychology. It examines such timeless issues as the challenge of lifelong learning; family relationships; art, sport and sex as ‘flow’; the pain of loneliness; optimal use of free time; and how to make our lives meaningful. (Amazon.co.uk)
You can explore Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's ideas about flow for free at http://www.deepfun.com where Dr. Fun (Bernie DeKoven) interviews 'Mike' about 'flow'.
One Minute Manager
The One Minute Manager catches people doing things right.
Transfer of Training:
Action-packed Strategies to Ensure High Payoff from Training Investments
Mary L. Broad, John W. Newstrom
The whole book is based around a 3x3 matrix that shows what the
manager, trainer and trainee
can do before, during and after a training course to assist transfer.
The answer is a list of
80 strategies. Most strategies are common sense, but most readers will
find a few new ideas here -
with many brought to life in case studies. You will never have the time
to apply all of these
strategies, but your training events will benefit from the systematic
that is encouraged by the authors and supported by their research.
A Playful Path to Wholeness
"Games are not
life. They are, if anything, bigger than life." (Bernie DeKoven)
Reviewed by Roger Greenaway: This book is worth more than any other
'games' book I have come across. By getting a more fundamental grasp of
what matters most about playing games you 'win' in at least two ways:
Bernie DeKoven was the co-director of the New Games Foundation. He wrote the orignal Well-Played Game in 1978 and brought out this revised edition in 2002. The book (and the author) have helped to revolutionize physical education worldwide. His message has become increasingly relevant. It is an intelligent read without being heavy. He interweaves examples and discussion in an engaging and persuasive way.
"When we are playing well, we are at our best. We are fully engaged,
totally present, and yet, at the same time, we are only playing."
If you are looking for lots of games, find another book. If you want to
enjoy or facilitate well-played games, you have just found the answer.
"What connects games with reality is that they are lifelike. What separates them is that they are not for real. What unites them with the totality of experience is not just their metaphorical quality but the manner in which they are played."
Wholeness and the Implicate Order
Synopsis: This work develops a theory of quantum physics which treats the totality of existence, including matter and consciousness, as an unbroken whole. The author presents a rational and scientific theory which explains cosmology and the nature of reality. The work is intended to be of relevance to those interested in physics, philosophy, psychology and the connection between conciousness and matter.
The Complete Facilitator's Handbook
Reviewed by Roger Greenaway: An odd combination of a very systematic approach mixed with an inspiring collection of creative ideas. You'll appreciate the tidy framework, the detailed examples and the temptations to experiment. John Heron was the Founder and Director of the Human Potential Research Project at the University of Surrey. This book (1999) updates and integrates his earlier books. (Roger Greenaway)
Synopsis: This comprehensive guide is designed to provide the key to successful facilitation. Analytical in approach and highly structured, it aims to help facilitators both understand and develop their own personal style of facilitation. Combining a strong theoretical content, including a comprehensive group dynamic theory, with an extensive repertoire for practical action the book provides the essential foundations for building effective facilitative skills that suit both a facilitator's personality and then closely match the situations they encounter. (amazon.co.uk)
Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
There was a time when IQ was considered the leading determinant of success. In this fascinating book, based on brain and behavioural research, Daniel Goleman argues that our IQ- idolising view of intelligence is far too narrow. Instead, Goleman makes the case for "emotional intelligence" being the strongest indicator of human success. He defines emotional intelligence in terms of self-awareness, altruism, personal motivation, empathy and the ability to love and be loved by friends, partners, and family members. People who possess high emotional intelligence are the people who truly succeed in work as well as play, building flourishing careers and lasting, meaningful relationships. Because emotional intelligence isn't fixed at birth, Goleman outlines how adults as well as parents of young children can sow the seeds. (Amazon.com)
Synopsis: This study argues that "emotional intelligence" is more important than a high IQ in terms of how one performs in life. It claims that qualities such as impulse control, persistence, zeal, self-motivation, empathy and social deftness are the characteristics of people who excel.
Nature with Children: Review:
This extraordinary bestseller is highly respected by educators
worldwide. Forty-two nature awareness activities have delighted
children as well as adults. Endorsed by the Boy Scouts, the Girl
Scouts, and the Audubon Society. (All Ages). (Ingram at amazon.com)
20th Anniversary Edition
A classic and a personal favourite. The design of the book deserves an
award. These 'Nature Awareness' games bring 'field studies' alive and
make 'nature activities' even more fun than 'adventure activities'.
And there's a
Sharing Nature With Children 2
Review: This extraordinary bestseller is highly respected by educators worldwide. Forty-two nature awareness activities have delighted children as well as adults. Endorsed by the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, and the Audubon Society. (All Ages). (Ingram at amazon.com)
Experience and Education
Synopsis: The educational theorist analyzes the shortcomings of both traditional and progressive approaches to education.
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