Mirrors and Windows: Experience, Memory and Literature

Mirrors and Windows: Experience, Memory and Literature

Reflecting on the purpose of her writing, the Poet Laureate for Young People, Jacqueline Woodson, asserts an evocative mission: “to write stories that have been historically absent in this country’s body of literature, to create mirrors for the people who so rarely see themselves inside contemporary fiction, and windows for those who think we are no more than the stereotypes they’re so afraid of.”

In January, Woodson came to Cleveland, sponsored by Facing History and Ourselves, with the support of Hawken School, Laurel School and the Beachwood City Schools. In an auditorium of teachers, staff, parents, and students, I first heard her metaphor and I can’t stop thinking about it.

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Weekend Reading: February 2017

Weekend Reading: February 2017

Forbes outline nine leadership lessons about workplace diversity and inclusion that we can learn from this year’s top-grossing Oscar nominee “Hidden Figures.” One tip from the movie that leaders can put into action? Removing obstacles for your workers:

“After realizing that Katherine Goble (played by Taraji P. Henson) had to spend half an hour walking across Langley each time she needed to use the bathroom, Al Harrison (played by Kevin Costner) uses a crowbar to smash down the sign that identifies the only bathroom at Langley reserved for women of color. In so doing, he effectively removes a significant obstacle to make Goble’s work easier. And, as is often the case, by identifying and fixing the problem for one person, he removed an obstacle that was impacting a large number of talented people.”

What other obstacles can we remove to foster a more diverse and inclusive workplace?

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“Moments of Pure Community”: Books@Work at The Intergenerational School

“Moments of Pure Community”: Books@Work at The Intergenerational School

The Intergenerational School in Cleveland, Ohio has a unique mission: to “connect, create and guide a multigenerational community of lifelong learners and spirited citizens.” The student body is drawn from neighborhoods all across Cleveland, and students learn in multi-age classrooms. The school recruits adults from the community to serve as mentors, making for a diverse and truly “intergenerational” experience.

Books@Work shares this endeavor toward community and lifelong learning, and it has been a joy to partner with Saint Luke’s Foundation to organize two years worth of programming with The Intergenerational School.

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Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

At first glance, Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette might not seem like it would merit four weeks of discussion. The novel has a bright cover, featuring a sunglasses-bedecked woman and blurbs from the New York Times and young adult author John Green. “Divinely funny” and “A moving, smart page turner . . . the funniest novel I’ve read in years,” these two sources respectively proclaim. A “funny” story told from the perspective of a fifteen-year old girl, Where’d You Go, Bernadette seems like it is more appropriate for a day at the beach than a law firm’s meeting space or a college course.

And yet, the novel is much more than a coming-of-age comedy. What can popular literature teach us about self-reflection and connection with others?

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Weekend Reading: January 2017

Weekend Reading: January 2017

Writing for the Harvard Business Review Amber Lee Williams addresses why it’s important to speak up when we witness instances of bias in the workplace: “Failure to acknowledge and address bias or offensive behavior validates the conduct and may create an impression that the behavior is acceptable, and even to be expected, in the workplace. Moreover, normalizing offensive conduct in this subtle manner tends to have a chilling effect on other potential dissenters, and communicates to those who are offended, regardless of whether they are targets of the behavior, that their perspectives and voices are not valued.”

Williams offers advice for how to speak up most effectively, and emphasizes that we should “create the opportunity for dialogue.” How do you foster dialogue at work?

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The Art of Critical Thinking: Now More Than Ever

The Art of Critical Thinking: Now More Than Ever

In the maelstrom of New Year’s media activity, the pervasive hand wringing about the past year and angst about the future seem unavoidable. At a recent holiday gathering, a family member suggested that as an antidote, we might each try to think of a word or two – a mantra of sorts – that might guide each of us in the coming year. After playing with that idea for the past week, I keep coming back to the art of critical thinking as my mantra for 2017.

“Critical thinking” is one of those phrases that gets used often, but that seems to defy definition. Why do we struggle to both define and implement critical thinking in our daily lives?

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On Reading a Book You Dislike…

On Reading a Book You Dislike…

“Likes” and “dislikes” are the currency of our digital world. But is “liking” a book a relevant question? Is it possible to gain meaning and value from a book that you do not like? Is there a better way to evaluate the impact of a book or a story?

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Weekend Reading: December 2016

Weekend Reading: December 2016

In a recent article for the Harvard Business Review, David Maxfield demonstrates that in cultures of silence, employees are less likely to speak up about a range of problems – including strategic missteps and rude or abusive behaviors from colleagues and management alike. How can we overcome cultures of silence and encourage people to voice their concerns?

Learn more about cultures of silence and psychological safety in this month’s Weekend Reading – and find articles on meaning and work, untold stories, sympathy and engagement, among other topics.

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The Science of Success: Why Close Friendships are Good for Business

The Science of Success: Why Close Friendships are Good for Business

You don’t have to go far to read about why taking a break — a walk, a moment to meditate — is good for you. Even your Apple Watch reminds you to stand up every hour. But what about at the office? Is your break good for your team’s productivity? And are the breaks your employees take good for your company? Absolutely. Rigorous research and a wealth of experience demonstrate not only why, but how!

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