Reflections on 2013: An Amazing Year of Learning and Growth

Reflections on 2013: An Amazing Year of Learning and Growth

Happy New Year from all of us at Books@Work. As we close the books on 2013, I cannot help but reflect back on the prior year. Nothing has occupied my thoughts and energies more this past year than Books@Work. 2013 was intended to prove that the program works in multiple industries, with diverse participants and a wide array of reading materials. And prove it we did! As we embark on 2014, we are all excited to take the program to the next level.

Read More

A Text at Work: O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi”

A Text at Work: O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi”

Since this is the season for gifts and giving, our latest installment of a Text at Work is O. Henry’s famous holiday tale “The Gift of the Magi.” O. Henry was the pen name of William Sydney Porter (1862-1910), a popular American short story writer. The prestigious O. Henry Award bears his name, and is granted every year for excellent short fiction. A Text at Work is a Books@Work “teaser” – a chance to experience a reading and a set of questions to spur discussion. Read it on your own, or share it with a friend. But please don’t forget to come back and comment!

Read More

Taking the Gown into Town

Taking the Gown into Town

In our recent discussions at Books@Work, we have been tossing around the term “ecosystem” to help us understand the many interconnected ways our program can make a difference. We are learning to see that every partner in a Books@Work program, from the individual participants to the companies and faculty, is connected to a whole network of relationships.

Read More

Finding Cheever Country

Finding Cheever Country

When most people think of the writer John Cheever, they think of the stuff of Mad Men: wealthy old New England suburbs, outdoor swimming pools, bored housewives, frustrated husbands and afternoon martinis. Cheever’s world is hard to imagine from the shores of the Rock River in Beloit, Wisconsin, a town that has endured prolonged economic hardship.

Read More

Philosophy and Human Potential

Philosophy and Human Potential

Why read philosophy? The short answer: philosophy helps us discover what it is we value and believe. This response may sound counterintuitive. After all, shouldn’t I already know my own thoughts? Aren’t they my beliefs? Undoubtedly. But values and beliefs are often like the air we breathe – we rely upon them to live without giving them much thought. Philosophy offers us a mechanism for paying closer attention, for seeing ourselves anew.

Read More

A Text at Work: Kurt Vonnegut’s “2BR02B”

A Text at Work: Kurt Vonnegut’s “2BR02B”

Kurt Vonnegut’s satirical, often dark and usually humorous novels are both popular and complex. His somber yet fantastical vision of the world was born out of harsh personal experience. Most notably, as a young man Vonnegut enlisted to fight in World War II, where he was captured by the German army. As a prisoner of war, he survived the fire bombing of Dresden. This experience would become the source material for Slaughterhouse Five, one of his most important works.

Read More

The Power of a Professor: Busting a Few Myths

The Power of a Professor: Busting a Few Myths

When we started Books@Work, a surprising number of people questioned the potential impact of professors in the workplace. “Won’t they be intimidating?” asked one skeptic. “Will people really want to read the stuff they want to teach?” worried another. “Aren’t professors too expert to be really open-minded about what adult learners would have to say?” The lack of confidence was frankly dispiriting.

Read More

Toward a Theory of True Workplace Learning

Toward a Theory of True Workplace Learning

As I have read these early blog posts from Books@Work, the notion of lifelong learning comes to mind. It’s a phrase that is used in so many different ways that it has lost any genuine shared meaning for those interested in learning outcomes for adults of all ages. This is particularly true for learning in the workplace, which sometimes uses lofty language about learning, but often is targeted at imparting skills that will contribute directly to the bottom line. Felix, in an earlier blog post, suggested that Books@Work has hit on an approach that serves the individual’s needs and desires for personal growth and learning AND the needs of the workplace for engaged and competent employees.

Read More

“Shakespeare Got a Lot Better Since High School…”

“Shakespeare Got a Lot Better Since High School…”

On day one at Swagelok I asked the Books@Work participants why they signed on for the program:

“The program was a natural. I love to rip through books to find out what happens.”
“I don’t read much besides work-related stuff anymore and thought the program would be a good way to get back into it.”
“I just thought the idea of talking about what I read is cool.”

Read More