Read like a rebel

Last weekend at an IB conference in Singapore, I shared my personal journey from being a robot (a compliant student/teacher) to becoming a rebel (a thinker/questioner/challenger).

And a huge part of that journey for me was what I read. So often as educators we read amazing books… but they are usually books that help us do a better job within the system. Books about doing school well, or doing school better, or some even about doing school differently… but often just a little differently.

For me, the biggest shifts in thinking that I had came from books outside the system. From de-schoolers, un-schoolers, home-schoolers and even anti-schoolers. Books that made me critically look at the nature of the institution of school and begin to question some of the things we often assume to be “natural” or “essential” or “untouchable” elements of the education system.

So here are some of the things I read that helped poke and provoke my thinking about teaching, learning, schooling and the rights of the child:

It can be books…

Turning Points

How Children Learn

Pedagogy of the Oppressed


Dumbing us Down

De-Schooling Society

It can be blogs:

Alfie Kohn blog

It can be Tweeters:

Bruce L Smith

It’s any reading material that gets you thinking, makes you question, gets you angry. The type of reading material that fires you up and gives you the confidence to look at school and say “that’s not okay”. The type of reading material that doesn’t shy away from challenging those “untouchable” elements of the school system.

The type of reading material that makes you feel unafraid to fail, be different or get in trouble.

What are your favourite “rebel reads” that I should add to the list?

7 thoughts on “Read like a rebel

  1. keeneelou April 2, 2018 / 1:06 am

    Two books by Frank Smith – Joining the Literacy Club and Reading Without Nonsense- were pivotal reads for me as a young teacher of young students. Both encouraged me to think about curriculum differently and it encouraged “transdisciplinary” thinking!


  2. Pramila Sen April 2, 2018 / 3:40 am

    Thanks for sharing! I can call myself a rebel reader surely and I love the sound of it! Taryn, it was so great to meet you at the conference – I was one of a thousand probably who must have congratulated you on the great speech that you gave and this blog that you write. I wanted to say a big ‘thank you’ to you for all that I learn through your wonderful blog – think I got too carried away and was too overwhelmed meeting you in person!


  3. NainiS April 2, 2018 / 8:33 am

    I’m glad there are teachers like you:)


  4. Judy April 2, 2018 / 12:22 pm

    Great books- Alfie Kohn and pedagogy of the oppressed made me think a lot about What is School? Eye opening. Have you read the opposite of this theme? Like bell hooks work, Teach Community- A Pedagogy Of Hope? Also, after reading The Brain that Changes Itself, made me question how much of what we do even helps build sustainable learning. Although true heart stirring and mind provoking reading on my shelf lately have been non-educators books from authors like Thich Nhat Hanh, Warren Berger, Seth Godin and Ray Kurzweil.


  5. Cee April 2, 2018 / 1:07 pm

    Thank you Tarryn for sharing! I hope to read these books.Your talk at the conference has inspired me. Look forward to your blog, tweets, updates of studio 5 and meeting you again.


  6. aggiekesler April 2, 2018 / 1:49 pm

    I saw you there! You were such a risk-taker to get up on that stage in front of 1800 people and tell your story. I kept thinking, I feel like I know this girl…I read a blog that sounds a lot like her. Then I saw your blog name and it dawned on me who you were. I admire your spirit and willingness to try new things and swim upstream!


  7. L. McCall April 5, 2018 / 12:11 am

    Two books I’ve enjoyed recently, that aren’t necessarily “teaching” books, have helped to shape some of my pedagogy: “The Geography of Genius: Lessons from the World’s Most Creative Places” by Eric Weiner, and “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua. Chua’s book made me downright angry at times, but it was a very satisfying push and pull with my brain as I learned where she was coming from; her self-reflection was really eye-opening as well. Weiner’s book was less “rebellious” in nature for me, but I enjoyed thinking about creativity and how it could be better fostered in the classroom.


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