Last week I had the opportunity to give a book talk at the Nantucket Atheneum which is both the public library on the island and has members. The library had done outreach to educators and artists as well as regular members and so there was a crowd of about 35 people in the audience, which is supposed to be a good turn out for the summer. Nantucket Bookworks, one of the two local bookstores on the island, sold the book and sold out!
I was very impressed by the kinds of questions folks asked such as: How do you sustain your teachers? And how do you make sure that they are nourished artistically? (This is an on-going discussion with our faculty and we try and improve each year.) What’s your advice now so that we can avoid for other students what happened to Shanita? (I think I do a fairly good job explaining this in my book.) Do you know Ross Greene’s book Lost at School? (Yes, I answered with delight, we are using parts of it for our professional development this year!) How can public schools have some of the same freedoms of private schools? (On Nantucket, even with such a small population, there is some dissatisfaction with the local public schools and private schools are gaining strength). This question of freedom and working with less constraints is of concern to all educators. I advocate for increased accountability for increased freedom and I’m continually dismayed by how public policy makers go after more testing as the solution to improve schools as opposed to creating less constraints. That is why I support the Pilot Schools in Boston and Massachusett’s new legislation to open Innovation Schools.
All in all, the talk at the Atheneum made me appreciate how many people– from as far flung as San Francisco and Miami– care about good schools and good education– even when on vacation!