Shared Reading as a Foundation for Inclusive Democracy

Shared Reading as a Foundation for Inclusive Democracy

This year marks the one hundredth anniversary of John Dewey’s classic book, Democracy and Education. While much has changed in the last century, much has not: his voice continues to inspire us today as we think about the role that adult learning can play in shaping democracy. Dewey’s lesser-known friend and colleague, Jane Addams, provides important practical perspectives as she combined theory and practice in work that shaped the lives of individual people in Chicago and far beyond for many decades.

Dewey and Addams believed that democracy depends on providing opportunities and resources for every person to build his/her own capacity to contribute to the work at hand in their families, in the workplace and in the larger community.

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Culture, Custom and Compromise: Veterans Read and Discuss Achebe

Culture, Custom and Compromise: Veterans Read and Discuss Achebe

On November 1, 2017, we gathered with veterans at the VA Domiciliary in Cleveland, Ohio to discuss Chinua Achebe’s short story, “Dead Men’s Path.” The VA Domiciliary – called the “Dom” – is a residential treatment  facility for veterans. We were thrilled to facilitate a Big Read as the kickoff to our second Books@Work program with this group.

Our executive director began to read aloud and the room fell silent after a few last murmurs. The rustling of paper, creaking of chairs, the scratch of Styrofoam coffee cups, and Ann’s clear voice filled the room of over 60 veterans – of all ages – listening intently. As she arrived at the end of the first page, I heard the sweet swoosh of pages turning in unison and knew this session would be special.

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November 2017: Weekend Reading

November 2017: Weekend Reading

Happy Friday! We’ve compiled our favorite articles and essays from the last month and beyond for you to browse and enjoy this weekend.

This summer, NPR shared a print segment about the work lives of oil rig workers from their podcast Invisibilia. In 1997, Shell began construction on “the world’s deepest offshore well,” a 48-story deepwater platform called Ursa. The unprecedented project challenged all notions of how the rig’s workers would plan and build safely. “Even though the men faced the risk of death every day,” one oil worker said, “they never showed any vulnerability. This made the work even more perilous, because the men didn’t ask for help, didn’t admit if they weren’t up to a certain job.”

Can being more vulnerable lead to a safer work environment?

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The Power of Unexpected Questions

The Power of Unexpected Questions

Three unrelated experiences came together in the last few weeks that led me to revisit an idea that has stayed in the back of my mind for quite some time: MIT Professor Edgar Schein’s notion of “humble inquiry,” which Schein defines as “the fine art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not already know the answer, or building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person.”

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Crafting the Common Language: Belonging and Inclusion in Workplace Culture

Crafting the Common Language: Belonging and Inclusion in Workplace Culture

When I joined McKinsey & Company some time ago, my first day coincided with an office conference on innovation and business in the new economy, the very area in which I was hired to contribute. How fortuitous! But to say that I understood about half of what people were saying is ambitious; truthfully, despite my years as a corporate lawyer and deep exposure to business and innovation, McKinsey spoke a language I had simply never heard.  

Thankfully, I am a quick study, and over the years I became fluent in that language – and long after leaving the firm, I confess to still using certain expressions that just work. But more important than the words themselves, I learned two important things: first, that this common language was a phenomenal unifier – part of a shared culture that bound thousands of professionals who rarely spent time in the office and whose work took them to all corners of the globe; and second, they had invented it themselves.

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Reading Mindfully: Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”

Reading Mindfully: Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”

In 2016, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan became the first musician to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, sparking a debate about the nature of “literary” writing. Can we equate song lyrics with poetry? Should we distinguish between songwriters and a novelists? Does Dylan deserve the same literary prestige as Toni Morrison and Pablo Neruda?

Can we embark on a mindful literary exploration of one of Bob Dylan’s most famous songs?

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What the Modern Workplace Can Learn from Leonardo

What the Modern Workplace Can Learn from Leonardo

In a recent Wall Street Journal essay adapted from his new biography of Leonardo da Vinci, author Walter Isaacson explores the life and mind of the ultimate Renaissance Man. How did Leonardo’s ambitious visions become realities? What made him so imaginative and prescient that people still debate his art and craft ball bearings based on his original design? What can we learn from the habits of a creative genius?

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Weekend Reading: October 2017

Weekend Reading: October 2017

Happy Friday! As usual, we’ve compiled our favorite articles and essays from the last month for you to browse and enjoy this weekend.

Harvard Business Review launched a fantastic series at the end of September focused on the epidemic of loneliness in the workplace. Former United States Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy writes in the cover story:

“Even working at an office doesn’t guarantee meaningful connections: People sit in an office full of coworkers, even in open-plan workspaces, but everyone is staring at a computer or attending task-oriented meetings where opportunities to connect on a human level are scarce. Happy hours, coffee breaks, and team-building exercises are designed to build connections between colleagues, but do they really help people develop deep relationships?”

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Learning Life History: Revisiting the Past to Build a Better Future

Learning Life History: Revisiting the Past to Build a Better Future

In Learning from Our Lives, Pierre Dominicé suggests that our life history, especially the history of our learning, can be a powerful resource for understanding the future we want to build. Dominicé exhorts educators to encourage adults to explore their educational biography. When adults reflect on their “life journey in learning,” he says, they “become authors of their lives.”

Each of us is a product of our biography. Can we seize on our learning life histories to learn more about ourselves in the present?

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