March 9, 2014

David and Goliath - Book Review

The most recent book that I have read is Malcom Gladwell's David and Goliath.
I heard about the book back in October at a Student Leadership Conference in Chicago. It really appealed to the inner underdog within me. 

The book takes a different side to the biblicial story of David vs. Goliath. In the old version, David is portrayed as the weaker of the two whom is lucky to have won the fight. In Gladwell's perspective David is not seen as the underdog, instead, he speaks of David's strengths and why he should've won the fight. 

From the story of David and Goliath in the first few chatpers to the later chapters, Gladwell continues to take different approaches to characteristics in people that we often find as weak and shows us how they are any but weak. These characteristics take people and make them stronger then their counterparts without them.

For instance, one of my favorite comparisons in the book is about the "American classroom size". The teacher within me speaks to this completely. There are so many complaints around classroom size and how our students are losing out because the teacher to student ratios. Gladwell speaks of "The Tipping Point" which happens to be another book I enjoyed. The tipping point is the point at which too much can be harmful... 

On average most parents (and teachers) hope for a classroom of 20-25 students. Some parents want even less with at least a 14:1 ratio. When class sizes get down to 10 or less the classroom environment changes. Students don't interact as they would with more peers around. There are less perspectives in the room to challenge the thoughts of the students. Speaking to this, I had a few classes in college that had very few students because they were specialized courses within my teaching major. It was ALWAYS the same students speaking their voice. The students that didn't talk, when called on, never gave much to the conversation. Too little sometimes isn't the best. 

Going back to too much. Being a teacher, I had 35 students in a classroom once. There were too many students to hit the needs of every single student. Then count in the inclusion students who were on different IEP plans. The school didn't enforce para-educators in the classroom to help. It was a tipping point of too much at once. I did the best I could but I know I failed on many days to help those students who needed it most. 

So what the heck does this book have to do with the story? David is the perspective of the students in a middle-large size classroom. They have to be resourceful because the teacher isn't always going to be there when they are expected to help every student. The Davids will learn to seek out way to find the answer. They will also not be "helicoptered" meaning, "Did you turn in your assignment", "Did you complete chapter 7", "Have you studied for your test". In life, those students will go onto being self achievers without needed to be hand held or micromanaged. There are many great stories within this book about people who suffer from dislectsia and have gone on to become millionares. 

I think the reason why I like this book so much is because I see myseslf as a David. I was held back in the first grade due to low reading abilities. I was placed in lower achieving courses in high school because my testing scores were low. With all that said, I worked harder than those around me to move my way up in my school system, going from a GPA of a 1.8 in CP courses to graduating with a 3.3 GPA and taking Advance Placement and Honors courses. I am a David because I learned to overcome my obstacles by learning to work hard. To this day I will put in the extra hours to achieve the goals I have in mind. 

I love speaking to my students about overcoming obstables and how I've over come mine. If you like analizing situations from a new perspective then you should read, "David and Goliath". If you are someone that has had to overcome something in life, whatever it may be, you should read this book. 

If you have read this book, what appealed to you the most?

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