Creativity and inspiration reading list

Rather than more textbooks I thought I might share some other books you might not have heard of or thought were relevant to teaching and learning. Check ot the more official Ptlls reading list as well.

You may have heard Sir Ken Robinson on the radio or seen his really popular TED Talk already. If not, stop what you’re doing now and go watch it! Then get his two books: Out of our Minds and The Element. Out of Our Minds is a more traditionally academic looking book but it spends most of its pages railing against traditional academia. The Element is about finding that creativity within yourself and nurturing it within other people. Sir Ken’s premise is that everyone has extraordinary talents that aren’t always recognised or are repressed by education that does not value creativity or anything much other than Maths, Science and Languages, maybe some Humanities. He focuses on children because that where education starts but it is still incredibly relevant to us aspiring tutors not just for the ideas that are there but as an insight in to our students.

Just in general I would recommend the TED Talks. The subject matter is diverse but they are a goldmine of thought provoking, challenging and inspiring ideas. Similarly Change This spreads ideas through PDF ebooks and whilst mostly focused on business there is lots about creativity and education, such as this one about the fear of young people.

Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s Nudge has been getting attention in the media as a big influence on of the government but don’t let that put you off. Politics aside it is all about “choice architecture”, about how the way things are framed affect the choices we make. It is useful in Ptlls not just for understanding how we can use such things but perhaps more importantly about how we might do this by accident and the damage that could cause.

Made to Stick is by two professor brothers, Chip and Dan Heath. It is all about your message and how to make it stick with people. There are stories, case studies, reports and most importantly guidance on how we can create ideas that take hold in people’s minds. It explores urban myths that no-one can shake off versus important facts people just won’t remember. I’ve read it several times and am always discovering new ideas.

A brilliant little book Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion is by Noah J Goldstein, Steve J Martin and Robert B Cialdini. Some of it is about selling or talking to customers but a lot is for colleagues, friends and family. Secret 38 will get you through the queue for the photocopier quicker and we used secret 17 at work to get more students turning up to their appointments.

And to get your juices flowing on a traditionally dire element of teaching: two excellent books about powerpoints and presentations are Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds and slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy Duarte.

If you have any recommendations you think people might enjoy then leave them in the comments! The links to all these books are through Amazon and are affiliate links which means that buying through them you are supporting the site. If you don’t want to then don’t follow the link, just google the title. But if you do: thank you.

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