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Reads that #TheCircleRecommends!

Reimagining traditional school and education systems has never been more crucial than now. We need to urgently consider the education our children receive to be able to empower them to thrive in the world that we currently inhabit. Only then can we help students reach their full potential and create a brighter future for all.

As an organization and community of people trying to reinvent education, we must constantly keep unlearning, and relearning, with an aim to build our perspectives. And, other than lived experiences, classroom teachings, conversations, and experiential journeys, if there's anything else that enhances our perspective is reading.

As our Circle entrepreneurs have been learning to redesign and launch innovative learning experiences for India’s children, here are 5 books that have taught and inspired us.

In Search of Deeper Learning - Jal Mehta and Sarah Fine provide thought-provoking and insightful research that challenges us to rethink our assumptions about education and what it truly means to learn. While it provides a panoramic view of the American public school system, there are several lessons to be learnt for anyone working with and for learners. Our favourites were their compellingly argued and thoroughly researched observations on what constitutes deep learning - what happens at the intersection of mastery, identity and creativity. The authors provide a compelling case for reimagining traditional education systems to better support deep learning, including the need for greater personalization, collaboration, and real-world connections. A parent, a teacher, or a school leader must read this to be reminded that joy must accompany rigour and precision must accompany play to unlock the fullest potential of the learner.

How Children Succeed - Paul Tough observes that for decades we’ve been brought to believe that the scores a kid gets and the pedigree of their college signify their success. Tough spent years with urban America’s poorest young students and realised that the qualities that matter most have more to do with character skills like resilience, curiosity, optimism, self-control and Tough’s favourite grit. The book makes a compelling case that kids who grow up in poverty along with a deafening absence of supportive role models have more character than their privileged peers. The book is rich in stories of kids who overcome obstacles with determination. The author navigates the complexities of income inequalities and offers an essential reminder - that character is created by encountering and overcoming failure. And that failure impacts every child, irrespective of their socio-economic status.

Whatever It Takes by Paul Tough chronicles the inspiring story of a man’s mission to transform the education system in America's most disadvantaged neighborhoods. We follow Geoffrey Canada, the Founder & President of Harlem Children’s Zone as he weaves together a personal story in the context of generational poverty and the impact it has on kids. Part biography, part history, part antipoverty blueprint, is a gripping story showing that your zip code should not determine your destiny. Tough has woven an intricate blueprint to ensure the poorest kids and families succeed. From prenatal counseling, to access to great social services and excellent public schools the stories of real children and families might shock you, but they will certainly make you hopeful.

In Looking Away Harsh Mander uses his powerfully empathetic voice to explore the complex issues of poverty, inequality, and injustice in contemporary India. His decades of service with disenfranchised communities inform his storytelling and present a chilling account of how India has averted its gaze from the realities of injustice. In three parts, the book focuses on India’s social fault lines. Mandar examines the cultural and historical roots of exclusion and inequality and provides a vivid portrait of the lives of the poor and their recurring struggles and indignities that are hurled at them by a rigged system. He provides an impassioned critique of India’s political and economic elite and demands that they stop turning a blind eye to the suffering and prioritise the interest of the marginalised. Data, statistics and deeply personal storytelling come together to make an important read for every Indian.

The Smartest Kids in the World Amanda Ripley is a fascinating exploration of education systems around the world. Ripley follows three American high school students who spend a year studying abroad in Finland, South Korea, and Poland, and compares their experiences with those of their peers back home in America. Ripley presents a compelling argument that the key to success in education lies in a combination of high expectations, rigorous standards, and strong teacher training and support. Another strength of the book is its focus on solutions. Along with the challenges facing American education, Ripley also offers concrete examples of what other countries are doing right and how these practices could be adapted for use anywhere.

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