First Winter All-Community Read

Ah, vacation! Much like the breather that this Thanksgiving holiday and break provides, winter break will offer students an opportunity to relax and to reconnect with family and friends — only in a new way this year, thanks to the rescheduling of our annual All-Community Read (ACR).

Instead of students, faculty, staff, parents and family reading the same book during the summer and then discussing it together soon after the opening of school (as Brooks has done for the past three years), the read is being held during winter break and Winter Term this year.

Learn about how Brooks' All-Community Read makes us a "stronger school."

"We are trying something new under the leadership of the math department," Academic Dean Susanna Waters shared in a note to students and faculty during the summer. (The read has been organized by a different department each year, with history, science and English having previously selected: Sonia Nazario's Enrique's Journey in 2015, Ernest Cline's Ready Player One in 2016 and Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go in 2017). "This change is being made in an effort to readjust our academic expectations of students over summer months, and to more fully embrace the community experience of all reading a book together at the same time."

The reschedule came about because the curriculum committee sought to take "something off of the students' plates, and reposition it at a time when the all-community read can be more of a focus of engagement," added Chair of Mathematics Department Dave Price P'17, P'19. "As students transition from fall finals into Winter Term, the community can really dive into something new to consider."

So, shortly after Thanksgiving break, the math department will be distributing their pick for the read to everyone on campus: journalist Malcolm Gladwell's 2008 bestseller Outliers: The Story of Success.

"Malcolm Gladwell's columns in The New Yorker and his books have sparked thought-provoking debate for years," said Price. "His unique perspective, coupled with thorough research, results in hidden truths found in data. It is the hope of the ACR committee that ... Outliers will engage our community in valuable discussions about how hard work, access to opportunity, and luck all interact with success."

And to make the experience a true success at Brooks, Price and other faculty have planned a number of activities involving the book. The teacher will kick things off himself with a chapel talk the first week of December. During the school's advisory block, adults and students with a common interest in an Outliers topic will meet and have small book-club style community discussions. A seated dinner in February will be organized around the same lines, with students and adults grouped by interest to foster further discussion.

Learn all about Brooks unique Winter Term and see photos and a video of recent courses

Following Winter Term, individual departments will include themes from the book in their lessons and assignments. Possible projects being considered include the math department embarking on a data project to look for interesting patterns at Brooks, and the history department taking a look at the impact of leaders during the Industrial Revolution, while science classes may look into the impact of farming methods on culture and self in community students could consider how opportunity, accessibility, and inclusion interact with success.

"We feel that our community will not only enjoy the read, but struggle to put it down," said Price. "I'm hoping that this choice will also promote the idea of reading as a tool for lifelong learning in which we all seek agents that provoke thought for its own sake — not for an assignment or because we have to — but because it makes life interesting to expand and grow as we explore new perspectives."

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