Friday, December 04, 2015

I'm Hoping You Can Help



I once wrote a book. It was a what's called a "work for hire" in that a publisher approached me to author a book to his specifications, in this case a tour guide for the city of Seattle for parents and their children. The publisher's idea was to publish one for each major city in America. It wasn't a bad idea, I don't think, but for whatever reason, he was belly up within a couple of years. By now, it's seriously out of date, but you can still find copies of A Parent's Guide to Seattle. Here's one for 81 cents.


My point in mentioning this is that it was a lot of work for very little reward. I put thousands of hours into it, between the writing and marketing, but it was worth it in the sense that my name was on the cover of a book, which had been one of my goals coming out of college. Not exactly what I'd had in mind (I'd intended to be the next Faulkner) but, as my wife says, "Better than a sharp stick in the eye."


The whole experience, however, left me quite ambivalent about the prospect of future book projects, but recently I've found myself considering the idea again, mainly because for the past couple years so many of the readers of this blog have asked for one. Up until recently, I took those requests merely as compliments rather than suggestions. I mean, after all, I'm already giving away all my best thinking right here every day. But a reader recently made a compelling case to me for why she would like to see an actual book and it got me thinking.


So, today I'm turning the tables and asking for your advice. If there was going to be a book from Teacher Tom, what would that look like? What would you like to see in it? What should I focus on? And, perhaps most importantly, in a world already full of books on parenting and teaching and young children, why another?


I love writing this blog. I am passionate about my topic, of course, but on a personal level I really love the instant gratification of publishing every day, of receiving your comments, of knowing that people find something in my words with which they can connect. A book is about delayed gratification and I'm still not entirely clear in my own mind why someone would pay for what I'm willing to give away. I'm hoping you can help me with that.



Thank you!



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47 comments:

Carrie said...

I for one live in a nearly manless world. I had been raising my grandson for almost three years and found your blog so refreshing because of your male perspective. For me, a man so loving and devoted to kids is a rare thing. So many of us have either no men or disattached men in our child and grandchild years that we NEED to hear the man's voice. I need it anyway. When I first read your blog I was learning how to parent a rambunctious 3 year old....I don't recall the article but it was encouraging me to just let him play, wild and free, observe, explore and experience his world.It is simple but I had to work at it. You could pick any topic...I personally would like to find examples of things. I.e.I learned about love and logic techniques but the hard part was thinking consequentially and coming up with choices. Reading and hearing about actual happening really helps me. I say go for it!

queen of logic said...

I agree with all the Facebook comments so far, you're an inspiration to many of us out here. I do a running diary for our group's parents each day and at one point put a lot of my musings into a draft book but have never got round to finishing it or doing something with it. I'd love it if you took a second book proposal global and invited like minded folk (me, me, me) to contribute their own pieces (you could choose topic/length etc) - it would let us all develop the idea of bubbles of practice world wide to combat the no child left behind/every child matters test based philosophy.

Hope you go for it :)

Tina Thompson said...

Teacher Tom, Yes, please, write a book! You have so much to share! But given that yu are generous enough to share your thoughts and experiences on a regular basis, would it make sense to base the book on your blog, with a selection of past entries organized by topic, loads of illustrations, and maybe some additional commentary? I would love to see this as a kind of richly illustrated documentation of your own reflective practice: This would be so inspiring for teachers and teachers in the making!

Amélia Gonçalves said...

Hello Teacher Tom! I'm a portuguese preschool teacher, unemployed for the moment, I've been reading your comments for a while now. I find them like a (sorry for not knowing the translation...) "stone we throw at water" it messes with us it makes us look at things in a diferent way...thankyou for that!
I think you should publish and make it just the same you already have been doing: sharing your thoughts on the matter. You wont be imposing anything will you? Just put yourself on it if thats what you really want not because someone wants it!

Emily is Strange said...

How about a book with the "best of" blog posts? It would be quick one to write and get you back in the book publishing game! V says to make sure to add a CD/DVD with all your favorite songs. Go TT!

Elizabeth said...

If you wrote a book, and it were a distillation of the main points you include in your blog, then I would buy copies for all people I know who care for my child and/or were having children of their own as a primer, an introduction & compressed explanation of best practices for raising children. It's hard to go through backlogs; it's hard (if not impossible) to encounter a new blog and read through ALL its history; there are so many posts and so little time, especially for expecting or new parents (or caregivers of littles). You have specific themes that pop up again and again in varied iterations as inspired by the events in the school and the world. I think it would be easy enough to group your posts, find the common threads, group them together and then either revise or write a new more encompassing essays.

In short: as a reference and summary and support.

But I'd love a book. I love your blog. I read it every day.

Judy Yero said...

Tom--If you wrote a book, I'd certainly buy it. I'm not sure of the "compelling reasons" a reader gave you to write a book, but here's my thinking. I wrote a book back in 2002 about teacher beliefs, values, etc. and how their thinking shapes their perceptions and behaviors in the classroom. I published it myself because publishers only wanted more of what they already published--how to books about teaching to standards. Recently, I drove 9,000 miles around the United States visiting "learner-centered" schools. Your school was the first one I visited...and remains one of the 3-4 schools that best exemplified authentic learning.

My funder wants me to write another book, but I've decided that there are enough books out there on education (many of them on a table waiting to be read.) And it's clear that they have made little or no impact on public education. So the question is, would one more make a difference--even one with as much wisdom as you have to share?

Technology gets your words to the people who need to hear them immediately. If you write a book...especially if you do it in lieu of this fantastic blog...it would be a year or more before your words would be out there for us to read. And by the time it is actually in print, you will have learned so much more that could have been shared by all.

That said, if you do write a book, let it be a collection of your posts about what you have learned from the children. You exemplify a teacher who not only cares about and empowers children, but who is always open to learning from them. That your preschool is successful is without question, if success is measured in the development of whole human beings. Your words are particularly important as the DOE starts touting "high-quality" preschool for all. Their definition of "high-quality" includes "aligning preschool standards to K-8." Just yesterday, I watched a video in which a kindergarten teacher was praising such preschools because she no longer has to start the year by "teaching the preschool curriculum." (She was talking about literacy and numeracy...failed standards pushed down to infancy.)

I'm not familiar enough with blogs to know how some people make a living by writing them...you certainly deserve to be "paid" for the inspiration you give so many of us each day. And not just by "donations."

Not sure that was any help...but whatever you decide, I'm sure it will continue to inspire us all.

Karen MacLellan said...

It's funny I read a LOT of your posts (when I can, since I'm now only a pad time teacher; and I work at a factory now to make ends meet)... and I see myself in them. Asking many of the same questions. Many of the same view points. And something that has hit me where I also find myself stumped when I want to "seriously" sit down and write something. What book DOES THE WORLD... or even my little NC town need? The thought overwhelms me on an original concept! Then I turn to my experiences and (like you said... ANOTHER PARENTING BOOK?!)... I'm stumpted! BUT An interesting concept would be a guide book for teachers.... talking to parents.... communicating to parents.... says to open up that line of trust... or days to integrate special needs kids in the classroom instead of giving up on those children. HOW NOT JUST BE A GOOD TEACHER BUT AN AWESOME TEACHER. I would LOVE to read THAT BOOK. And you HAVE the expierence.

Holly said...

I think an edited compilation of your best blog posts wouldn't be too difficult to put together. The ones that best describe your teaching philosophy would be nice, since it's such a stark juxtaposition to many other teachers today (unfortunately). I like the ones that are full of hope and innovation more than the ones that are political; those can get a bit snarky and condescending. The world needs more love, and I can usually count on you for a daily dose of it.

Count me as one of your first buyers. I adore your commentary, and I would have an even easier time sharing the love and positivity if I had something to physically hand someone with a, "Read this, and let's talk about it when you're done."

Lynn Parker said...

I think you should write a book making the case for play-based curriculum; within the construct of what is education for?

Desna Smith said...

One of the things I find interesting about your posts is the idea of democracy, and how that translates into the early childhood classroom. Also, bold brazen advocacy for the importance of play and holding strong against the push down of standardized testing. Or just your story.

mohtek said...

A book about the power of play. I'm seeing too much of a pudhdown in younger grades and even in ECE. Eduction should consider what is DAP. I have a MA and have been teaching college for ECE. I've seen a lot...and a lot that needs to change....

Mary Boyle said...

Hello, Teacher Tom! I've been reading your blog faithfully for many years (it's actually one of the only blogs I read). I am a writer and editor, and I've often thought of contacting you and offering to put all of your writing into a book, because so much of what you write has been so thought-transforming and inspiring for me. I recently edited and helped a friend publish a book for (nearly) free on Createspace on Amazon, and that is exactly what you should use. I would be honored to be your editor, but please write the book, either way. I would have to give some more thought on how to organize it, but I've been most touched by your writing about education in the US and, specifically, the importance of play-based learning. Your preschool view really does translate into all education (I'm a homeschooling mother of a 10 and 13 year old, as well), and I think the people of our country would benefit from your wisdom - especially in light of what is happening to our educational system in our country. Your voice is one that needs to be heard. Please do it!

Sarah said...

I love your blog, it makes me smile, cry, learn, strive. I only half jokingly suggested to my parter we move to Seattle (from the uk) to give our children your amazing preschool experience. you inspired me to seek out an 'alternative' pre school for my nearly 3 year old, he spends his 2 mornings a week playing in the woods. I would definitely buy your book, but I'm still thinking about what it should contain! Whatever it is, it should be compulsory reading in all teacher training courses, and be a key reference text for government education policy writers, what a breath of fresh air that would be. Thank you Teacher Tom.

KateD said...

I would not only buy it, I would pre-pay for it, sight unseen! (And promote it widely to my colleagues in the early childhood community of my country.) Such is the worth of your observations. A book would be terrific. Already you have the foundations of it, in your blog posts over the past years. You have a gift for writing, a talent for observation, much empathy and sagacity, and lots of great material to share. Please start your chapter outline today! :-)

Anonymous said...

Teacher Tom, I've been reading you with great appreciation for years. I read you first as a primary classroom teacher, loving your inside perspective on this complicated profession. I love how your principles about kids always come to the fore. We need rational, intelligent voices speaking about the power of play, open time for creativity, and children's ability to negotiate and problem solve with one another. Now, I appreciate your posts as a parent. One you wrote about giving your daughter her freedom in increments as she got older particularly resonated with me. You spoke about not wanting college to be the first time she flirts with freedom. It made a big impact on me! I now homeschool my two small children. Your words are inspiration, encouragement and a light in these test-filled times. I would buy your book in a heartbeat. You are a wonderful voice of advocacy for protecting children's right to play, explore and grow! Thank you for your efforts.

Jennifer said...

Great idea!!! I would treasure a book from you! We need it because of the hands-on nuts-and-bolts experience you have! Many of us KNOW play-based education is better, but how do we do it? What does it look like? How do we extend the principles past preschool and kinder?

Anonymous said...

Im not sure about advice or direction, but I can assure you, you are a Uniter in the thinks my early childhood field. If someone brings you up in conversation and the group says they love Teacher Tom's voice, we all know we are kindred spirits. If you can compile your thoughts into a book it may be a good resource for education teachers to expose their young professionals to. I may be old school, but a book lends academic weight. I would love for young teachers to find you! I would buy it! ;)

Sandy Mitchell said...

Tom, I was just telling an ECE friend of mine that I wish you'd publish a collection of your blogs. Why? Because they're awesome! I read every single one and then pass it on to all my FB friends. Hell, I even went to a EC Provider's dinner some months ago dressed as you! ;-) (oh god - does that make me a Fanboy?) No matter...

I'm getting close to clocking 3 years in EC (after a 40 year hiatus from my first EC job); and will be finishing my ECE AA in less than a year...and then beginning a BA in ECD.

Between 1990 and 2015 I was mostly workng in the Domestic Violence field, with perpetrators (including teens) and also did quite a bit of Chemical Dependency treatment (again, a lot with teens).

I've known my entire life that violence is a huge, huge problem in our country, and have done everything I could think of to reduce and eliminate it...In the mid-90's I was recruited to be on an advisory committee to Gov. Mike Lowry; called "Stop Youth Violence Advisory Committee." Spent a couple of years asking people why they thought 'Youth Violence' was the problem - when I've never met a child who began life as a violent human. Obviously our culture teaches them to be violent. We could turn our entire culture around by making a priority that every kid gets off to a great start in life...but we don't...

I struggled to write a book on the subject for about 8 years. I found it exhausting because every day's news proved the enormity of the problem - but other than a couple of my closest friends (Sam and Scott, mostly), the evidence in front of me was that hardly anyone would ever read it...

...then, just as I was preparing to move down to Mt. Shasta, I stumbled across a recent awesome book on the subject: "Our Tragic Flaw," by Parke Burgess - a true Renaissance Man (he's a classical Cellist, was involved with lots of environmental stuff, and is a psychotherapist and trainer par excellence). I think you guys would enjoy each other. Parke's way into Attachment Theor (he's studied with Dr. Sue Johson, who is probably the best couples therapist in the world), Shame Psychology, and much more.

I was so relieved to find that he's written the book - and a better book - than I was struggling to. Whew! Off the hook!

I bring this up because I can see tremendous value in your creating an EC book from a male perspective. In the last 3 years I've not me even ONE male EC person. You have so much insight into how children ACTUALLY learn (as opposed to all the dunderheads that are currently pushing educational nostrums).

I've I'd had the experience of attending a school like yours when I was a preschooler (I don't think the term had even been coined when I was born in 1946)...I wouldn't have ended up a completely alienated 16 y.o. who dropped out of high school

I've had the great good fortune of working in many fields where I felt like I was providing the kinds of services and relationship-building that I needed throughout my own life. But nothing has been as rewarding as working with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

I'm trying to find men to recruit to be in the field, because I think the field needs them, so that kids of both/all genders are experiencing role models of compassionate, caring, and nonviolent males I think a book from you on the subject would be simply awesome!

Trisha Dean said...

What a hard question to answer Tom! And I understand your struggle. I have similar issues that arise for me. But would I buy a book you published - without doubt. What would I want it to be about? I really don't know. What I do know is that I enjoy reading your blog, and so much of it makes sense to me.

You have this almost holistic view to working with children - which is why it is hard to pin something that you really care about down....... So perhaps, you could just do something like "Why I teach the way I do....." and commit to writing about how you have dealt with the situations that arise, that so many people see as big problem stuff. Those matter of fact ways that you see things..... And fill it with some of the anecdotes that you so eloquently speak about often......

I know you give it all away for nothing........ but I like to hold a book in my hands too.........

Shemo said...

Hi Tom, I am a Kindergarten teacher who frequently reads your comments. I love how your posts make me think and reflect on my own teaching. As much as I would like to see you write a book on the various subjects you tackle here, I do love reading your posts. The day-to-day issues that come up and how you respond to them at that moment are what motivate me to keep reading your blog. If you do end up publishing I would certainly purchase your book, but I hope it does not stop your wonderful, inspirational posts! Good Luck! Shemo from Nanjing

Kathryn Little said...

Seth Godin writes an incredible blog, different from yours, yes, but very good. His books are largely just curated versions of what he's already written and people pay well for it. I would love to purchase something like that.

Sure, I could print your articles out and put them in a binder and have them in a physical copy. But I read these posts because of your thought process and your intelligence and your experience. These things are different from mine, therefore a curated selection is fundamentally different from whatever randomness I have taken a fancy to.

Briana Feinberg said...

Yes, I'm totally in favor of this idea! Our new co-op playschool has been looking to your blog for wisdom as we set up our classroom, write a policy handbook, and craft documents to help our parent assistants in the classroom. We are also relying heavily on two other books, It's OK Not to Share and Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting. Those books accompany us to meetings, and we frequently flip through to see "What does Heather Shumaker have to say about this?" and so on. It would be amazing to have a sort of "guidebook" to creating the type of play-based classroom you have - what materials should we have, how should we lay out the space, what advice should we give parents for helping in the classroom, how can we inspire and extend play, what limits should we set, what should we consider when hiring a teacher? There are three other play-based co-op schools in Philadelphia and we are all trying to learn from each other - but I'd love to have a sort of handy reference, and something I can easily put on a "suggested reading" list for parents.

Sandy said...

Hi! I have been thinking about your blog and book suggestions for a little while now. I started thinking about why I like your blog above and beyond, (by a long shot), other blogs on similar subjects. I concluded that your approach is very much a hands off approach, a wait and see approach, a fly on the wall approach. You are so mindful that your influence when you are involved with the play, changes the play and herein lies the rub. It is such a subtlety to learn. We, as parents in the 21st century, are so used to being helicopter parents and tiger mums and all those things, which in effect stifle the natural course of play. This is where adults today need to learn how to step back. It takes courage, we have to understand that well-meaning as we are, we have no place in child-led play. We need to let them sort out their own squabbles and soothe their own hurts and learn to get up and try again. Learning the proper adult role, is where the most learning is needed. The children know innately how to play. They need nothing but their imagination. We need to learn how to let them use it to its fullest potential WITHOUT interfering.
This is what I have loved most about your blogs, you seem to have mastered the art of respecting this ability in children. You are busy changing the narrative about how children are helpless and NEED us. I would LOVE you to write a book with that being your main theme.
Good luck, it isn't easy. I will buy one for sure.

Sandy Good

Nina Spitzer said...

Tom,
Your willingness to express yourself so opening, so authentically is simply delicious and delightful.
Please continue to simply express what is in your heart.
Our hearts can hear.
Nina Spitzer

Fi said...

I was saying just a few days ago to someone that I wish there was a Teacher Tom book. We would buy it. I feel confident you'd include whatever is most important/relevant to you, which would probably resonate most strongly with your audience. Don't think you can really go wrong here! By the way when you do publicity, please come to New Zealand and do some signings in Christchurch hint hint! :-)

Camlin said...

Your writing style is anecdotal, and very readable. I find it a refreshing change from the dry and poorly written documents I am currently combing through in an effort to understand legislative changes, and rewrite our centre's program statement. We need this - we need to hear voices and stories from the field, from the classroom, from people who are actually doing the work and relating their every day experiences, while tying it back to research and child development.

The thought has also crossed my mind - I change diapers and write imaginary blog posts in my head about why this moment of transition and physical care is just as important, if not more so, in a toddlers life than any piece of planned curriculum an educator can provide. We, in Ontario, have come so far in recognizing this, and yet, new grads still believe that they need perfect rooms, shiny toys and a list of songs and fingerplays in order to be the perfect early childhood educator. We don't need more pinteresty creative ideas or tips and tricks for "managing" behaviour. I've followed your blog for several years now, and I delight in your stories, the conclusions that you draw from your observations, and the lessons that you, yourself learn and write about as you teach. If you wrote a book, however the chapters and sections were organized - or not - I would buy it, read it, and lend it to every student teacher that walked through my classroom door.

Tom (the other one) Shea said...

Tom, It would be a rallying cry to get big people to embrace our desperate need to give the next generation the morals, emotions, attitude, respect, trust and what our part in the process has to be... You articulate it so well - and now we need some focused direction... Over to you. Tom xxx

The Oak Leaves said...

If you write a book I would definitely have to have it. You're right that there are myriad choices in parenting books already about.

I think, however, that your perspective is unique. You see, understand, and can verbalize a lot in a way that others can't, or don't. For me, your writing on this blog has the perfect mix of sentiment and fact, as you see it. At times the tone reminds me of Ben hewitt's writing in that I agree with my child loving soul. Other times it's just the right amount of explanation, insight, and instruction to give me the confidence to act with my own children. You generally leave me inspired.

I often wish I could easily go back and just read a certain post again, but won't take the time to search for it. I find myself wanting to share your words with others to better explain a point I'm trying to make. If I had a book in hand, I could and would do that. I'd read it when in need of parenting inspiration. Because I believe you just get kids, and you just get how they should be treated, educated, respected...

As far as what I'd like to see in it? All of the above, but also more detailed instruction on coming up with group rules (easily put to use in a home, playgroup, or school), examples of your circle/group time workings, and instruction on starting a playgroup or school like yours. For that sort of thing alone I'd read and reread.

Anyway I'm all for it.

enTHRALLed said...

I have thought on this for the last day, and definitely think you should and I would definitely buy it. (Or if you take my suggestion, a free signed copy would be awesome!) My vote would be to write it from the perspective of a 3 year old thru a couple of years in your preschool and a couple of years in public school. With of course interactions with family and friends before, during and after school.

Enna said...

This may sound trite, but write about your passion. Don't try to forecast the direction of the book - just start writing and see where it leads you. IMO your greatest strength lies in your ability to reflect AND to communicate those reflections so clearly.

Rafer Nelsen said...

HI Tom,

I've been following along on your blog all fall, and been meaning to comment here and there. So, I'll start here.

I think a book (or maybe three!) sounds intriguing. I'm just thinking out loud here as I type (with Loic hanging from the back of my neck, he wants to type his name...), and of course my personal biases and interests (with Loic now in public kindergarten...) will be embedded in my thoughts, but here goes, in bullet-point style to get it all out of my head ASAP. What I have learned and pondered the last 1.5 years, a little willy nilly:

1. Mammals use play to learn survival skills and adapt to their environment.
2. We are mammals, and as kids we play as a means to adapt and survive to our surroundings and culture. We are programmed by evolution to learn. Play is learning.
3. As such, play and the freedom to choose what one plays, is essential to education.
4. So essential, in fact, that true civic democracy depends on our play as children and our developing a sense of "deep freedom", or "deep democracy" within us, so to speak.
5. With the above related ideas as "givens", or at least a hypothesis or starting point, I am interested in how we can infuse the notions of free play and play-based learning (or whatever we want to call it) that we see at Woodland Park into our public schools, and make it age-appropriate (or whatever we want to call that...) across elementary, middle and high school; infuse both curriculum and pedagogy with play-based learning, in other words.
6. As an extension of my initial thoughts above, I've come to view free public schooling as the fundament of democracy, really the most important thing to "invest in" as a nation, and without any expertise in the field, I have also come to the conclusion that as a society we citizens have basically abandoned our public schools; we live in a sort of unconscious state of apartheid in this country (well, unconscious for a lot of light skinned people, I think darker skinned people know the score better...), with people of means able to choose their child's school if they don't like the local public school, and thereby abandoning public schools to the "testocracy" that we see controlling them today, as the national public school population are in many ways "easy pickings" for the testo-crats (poorer, darker skinned, more single parent or two working parent families with less time and money to resist, etc).
7. I am not explaining my thoughts very well right now, but in a nutshell, to me it seems like we de-segregated our schools in the 50's (Brown v Board of Ed), it took another decade to actually make it somewhat real (bussing, etc), and then segregation just kicked in again with wealthier (lighter-skinned) people opting for private school or public school in the suburbs; we see white flight from 40-50 years ago not just in our neighborhoods, but also in our schools today. So there is this huge historical/social justice issue mixed in there as well, the solution to which is hard to fathom (how do we achieve national consensus on public schooling, like say Finland or New Zealand, when we have such huge racist and socio-economic hurdles to jump still?)
8. Anyhow, all the above is what I am thinking about lately, and so given your unique experience as a play-based preschool teacher, a product of public schools yourself, your own experiencer with desegregation as a child, I figure you are just the person for the job of writing the mother of all books, tying in the science of play, our particular American history, identifying the problems in public schooling (or rather summarizing them), and then perhaps coming up with some ideas and potential play-based answers to address the problems.

There you go. And I figure at the very least, you have the right sartorial outfit for the job!

Rafer (and Loic, who did get to type his name, he was very patient with me... And also Mari, which Loic also just got to type. Good night!)

Anonymous said...

I've told lots of people about your blog and I'm sure several are following. A book would be something I could put into their hands or earmark and open as I stand with them. Book talks would also be good. I'll be thinking of what I'd like it to look like. Please, please do not let it become a substitution for this place. I also like the instant gratification. I've come to crave it each day! :)

OddOneOut said...

Hi Tom,

I'm an ECE student down in New Zealand. And I'm also a man. As irrelevant as that last statement should be, in our field it's not. You get judged and scrutinized, and then you judge and scrutinize yourself. When I started it was hard; I really wasn't sure I belonged, in that environment, and I wasn't sure whether others thought I belonged here either. But over a period of 6 months I've realized I love children; I don't say that often, because men saying they love children seems to be a taboo. Still, I do. I would do anything for any one of my little monsters.

I wanted to thank you with all my heart for what you are doing. You may not realize this, but your blog was an enormous part of the past 2 years of my life; and I'm sure there are other guys out there who can say the same. I'm young and inexperienced, and having someone like you talking about teaching, passionately and with love, really made a difference in my life.

As far as writing a book goes, I really don't have any advice, so I'm sorry about that.

Have a great day!

French Valley K-Prep Preschool said...

You could very easily take the pieces from your blog and compile them into a book. I know people could get the free content here, but a book is easier to navigate and has a stamp of: "I am an expert". Not that your blog doesn't. By selling it on Amazon, you will reach a bigger audience, because not everyone knows about your blog and not everyone types in the kind of search for your topics.

I teach a phonics based program, but I need to keep my head clear that children at the preschool age, still need to be children and your blog keeps that focus for me and keeps me in that perspective. You have a handle on children's play that many early childhood "experts" have lost. There's no messes, no climbing, no free building, no making up games in many of these "experts'" classes. Maybe your book should be called: Don't Forget - I Need to Play, Too!. You could start it where you say, "As you follow your curriculum (because many have strict curriculum) or teach your phonics based, math based, theme based programs, that preschool aged children still need to play. You could speak to that LARGE group of teachers as well as the group that agrees with EVERYTHING you do - more natural, hippy, mother earth followers (I hope this wasn't insulting). I used to belong to an attachment parenting group and most of the members were anti-public school and were looking to put their children in Waldorf schools or doing "unschooling" or Montessori or other alternative to the norm. I've explored a lot of the ideas in those alternatives, which is how I found you in my searches. However, knowing I can't afford private school and that my children were going to public school, I looked more in to what the public school needs from preschoolers coming in to school. The teachers kept saying - "They need to know their letters, phonics, numbers, to cut, and to hold a pencil." They never mentioned being able to socialize or get along with others. They never talked about playing to achieve certain motor skills or to help the brain understand the world they live in. I designed my preschool so that they get exposure to phonics, writing, numbers, colors, and shapes, but the rest is centered around the children talking to each other and playing. I cover the part they don't mention. (in bold:) I need a book like yours to, again, remind me of what is really important!

Anonymous said...

Kia ora,
For me, a book written by you would be full of stories of children engaged in their play - a reminder of all those little moments where play happens. I agree, there is already so many books out there so it doesn't need to be about philosophy or curriculum as such, but weaving the core ideas through a narrative so someone might pick it up briefly, read an anecdote and be inspired in their practice.
Just my thoughts!

Dave said...

I'm such a big fan of your blog that I usually kind of watch from afar. I'm scared that if I interact too much, it might upset some delicate balance.

From that point of view, I'd say that you could pick a "greatest hits" set of posts and publish them together as a book. That would be relatively simple to do, wouldn't disrupt your existing writing workflow (which seems to be spot on), and would still make a great resource worth buying and sharing.

I've seen a couple bloggers step off the deep end, transforming a previously fun and refreshingly frank blog into a marketing venture. They start offering $500 online classes and pushing preorders and holding back good content. You seem grounded enough to not let it entirely run away like that...but it's scary to worry about losing something I really love to read.

Rafer Nelsen said...

HI Tom,

I left a long comment over the weekend, or tried to, not sure it made it through. I got a message about word length after I sent the comment, edited a few things, resent it and it seemed to work, but not sure...

Rafer

Anonymous said...

I teach Philosophy of Education to undergraduate and graduate students. We need more books with content like this, in part because books have a sort of "gravitas" that blogs still do not have. The fact that a third party accepted, edited, and published your work gives you more credentials in the world of teaching. And teacher education is where your words need to be read, desperately. I see the field changing in ways that dismay me, and I'm not sure what can help to stop this ongoing slog toward data-based, test-driven education, but especially now when it's moving toward preschool, I become more and more convinced that students need to read your words while they are in school, as well as beyond. And right now, the best way to get your words in a graduate classroom setting is to put them in a book.

Melissa Scott said...

While I love the idea of a book, here's another: a short documentary style film. Now, I know this doesn't scratch the same itch for you as writing a book might, but in terms of reaching a broad audience and having maximum impact video is the way to go. If we really want to deepen people's ideas about what ECE can and should be we need to SHOW them exceptional teaching such as yours. Plant an image in their mind of what we could all aspire towards, coupled with a frank discussion of the barriers standing between our current situation and actualizing this image at scale.

Anonymous said...

I'm a museum educator whose been following your blog for a number of years, and I too would love a book. I do a large amount of staff training with interns and part time staff (many of whom are college students). A book would make it easy for me to share ideas about play based learning, how to observe children, and how to follow their lead with our staff. A book would be dog eared and passed around and discussed in a way that print-outs of a blog post are not.

Thanks for everything you put into this blog, you are an inspiration!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to echo some of the comments already made. For example:

> Tom, I was just telling an ECE friend of mine that I wish you'd publish a collection of your blogs. ...

... and ...

> You could very easily take the pieces from your blog and compile them into a book. ...

... and ...

> If you wrote a book, and it were a distillation of the main points you include in your blog, then I would buy copies for all people I know who care for my child and/or were having children of their own as a primer, an introduction & compressed explanation of best practices for raising children. ...

... etc.

The truth is you've already written a book (probably several). While blogs don't (often) directly translate well to a book-like format, you certainly have enough material. I don't know what format you would consider. A memoir perhaps? A self-help/advice work? The latter, disguised as the former, entitled, "Memoirs of a Student - Lessons Learned from Children Teachers" (I'm only half joking). The work would come (in part) from selecting a theme or a collection of related or coherent themes, mining (and possibly updating) your existing material, (re)organizing it, and (this is likely going to be the hardest part) figuring out what to take away.

If you're tentative about this approach, I would point out that, while it is likely to be a huge effort, if done well, it can bring a large amount of value for readers that may be difficult for them to realize via periodic blog posts. While you do a good job of referencing your previous posts, readers are likely to gain new insight from refinement (e.g., brevity, reorganization, etc.). Also, if you're like me, you might find joy in rereading your material that has long since passed from memory. (I sometimes find myself saying, "Wow, I wrote that? I was pretty articulate at one point!")

Rafer Nelsen said...

Melissa has a great idea, a documentary...

Jrothh said...

I would love to read a book by you, Teacher Tom. Here is what I'd love to read about.

- where philosophy meets action. What you do, why you do it. My favorite moments from your blog are word for word quotes with the kids. The deeply thought out anti-authority curriculum with the band-aid was one of my favorite and I use a variation on it when I work with young kids.
- How one might apply your idea to older kids.

Why another book?

While very little advice is new or totally fresh, a fresh voice giving a combination of old advice and new advice can bring both old and new ideas to more easily understood levels. One could go read texts books about constructivist education, but many would much rather read your embodied stories that tie theory and action together simply but beautifully.

Anonymous said...

I'm buying it. And I'm somehow going to give it to my inconsistent authoritarian parents as a thankyou for being loving grandparents. I will secretly hope your grown up man words will affect them the way my grown up little girl words never have.

enTHRALLed said...

I now 2nd this idea!!

ACsMama said...

I just found this post today, as I skipped over it when I saw it on FaceBook, but I would love to see you write a book about the importance of play-based education. You could even take your previous posts on here and re-work them into a book format, but I agree with previous commentators that it would be nice to have a book I could just hand people instead of having to send links to multiple blog posts. I think it would be awesome to be able to help me explain to parents / fellow teachers / administrators / etc. WHY my classroom doesn't look like all the others, or why I don't want to give homework for Kindergarten, etc.

I would love to see Teacher Tom become a resource in all teacher prep programs, particularly ECE.

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