AfterClass

Hear from Executive Director Dr. Kathy Wiebke, NBCT, about why she is looking forward to discussing Malcolm Gladwell's "Talking to Strangers" with Arizona educators.

Dec 03, 2020

Looking forward to more reading time during winter break? Join Arizona K12 Center Executive Director Kathy Wiebke and other Arizona educators in reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know.

The Executive Director’s Book Club will be discussing Talking to Strangers on Wednesday, January 28, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. online. Go here to register for the event. If you register by December 29, we’ll mail you a copy of the book straight to your home!

You may have read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, Blink, or David and Goliath. In Talking to Strangers, Gladwell studies interactions between strangers, “the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don’t know,” and why they so often lead to miscommunication or conflict.

Below, Wiebke shares why she selected Talking with Strangers for the book club and what she’s looking forward to discussing with others.

Why did you choose this book for the January book club?

This book was recommended to me by Book Club participants from last year. In fact, when one teacher brought it up, there was a chorus of “I loved that book!” In addition, I am a huge fan of Malcolm Gladwell. Whenever I have a group of teachers agreeing on a book, it is a sign to read it.

What are you looking forward to discussing with others about this book?

America is deeply divided right now. I think that division is connected to how we communicate, what we say and don’t say. There are those who purposefully manipulate and deceive, which only exacerbates the division. When we misinterpret information or fail to communicate, the divide widens. Gladwell explores all of this in his book.

How do you think this book might speak to teachers especially?

This book will speak to teachers on two levels. First, on a personal level in our day to day interactions with other humans. On a professional level, I would argue that by the very nature of a teacher’s work, every year we encounter strangers. Making sense of the stranger, Gladwell writes, "requires humility and thoughtfulness and a willingness to look beyond the stranger, and take time and place and context into account."

Any additional thoughts to share about Talking to Strangers?

Talking to Strangers is a collection of stories. While not every tale boils down to miscommunication, as racism plays a significant role in some of them, Gladwell does challenge us to think about strangers and taking their truth at face value. It is an interesting read. During a pandemic, how we communicate with strangers becomes even more critical and Gladwell’s book opens us up to the conversation.

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