Some books for lockdown

During lockdown I have found myself able to read more.   This might relate to less other options such as going to the cinema, going out for a meal, or going out shopping, or it might relate to time gains made each day due to working remotely rather than having to drive to work.     Given the increased opportunity to read I thought I would share 5 book recommendations.  I have tried to pick a bit of a cross section of topics in terms of the books, but you may be able to see a bit of a theme which aligns with some of my current thinking.   I note that these are all books I have read in the last couple of years:

IrrationalPredictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

Ariely explores how we believe ourselves to act rationally, using the available information to arrive at decisions, while in reality our actions are often far from rational.   One of the key issues I feel the book identified is how oblivious we often are to our irrationality and how we often create narratives to help us justify our decisions after the event.

“when stripping away our preconceptions and our previous knowledge is not possible, perhaps we can at least acknowledge that we are all biased”

BlackswanThe Black Swan by Nassim Taleb

Talebs book explores the human tendency to look towards averages and generalisations and therefore to miss the dangers and opportunities which the unlikely event might yield.   He explores how sadly the unlikely event, the black swan, is often not considered until after it happens at which point it is no longer an unlikely event.   Given the current situation we find ourselves in, in a global pandemic, I think this book may be more relevant than ever.

“the illusion of understanding, or how everyone thinks he knows what is going on in a world that is more complicated (or random) than you realise”

culturemapThe Culture Map by Erin Meyer

Meyer explores the business world, however this is largely applicable to all organisations including schools, and how cultural norms have a significant impact on what works and what doesn’t.   As we increasingly live in a global world and therefore prepare students for this world, this book provides useful insight into the need to consider our own culturally identity and culturally driven views as well as the impact culture has on those we deal with on a day to day basis.

“when you are in and of a culture – as fish are in and of water – it is often difficult or even impossible to see that culture”

IamrightI am right, you are wrong by Edward De Bono

De Bono’s book is one which I read some time ago however I still find it an interesting read and especially so when you look at the binary arguments which arise on social media.   De Bono explores how differences of opinion arise and how we often use broad categorisation in our debates, among other areas.  He also explores how our attempts to constantly improve and refine thinking, practices, etc may be flawed.

“critical thinking is easy because the critic can focus on any aspect he or she likes and ignore the rest”

SiloeffectThe Silo Effect by Gillian Tett

Tett examines how our organisations use hierarchical structures to sustain themselves once they get above a certain size.   She discusses how this can lead to silos of knowledge, skills, etc and how we can seek to try and break down these silos.    In the current world where information is easy to access via the internet and people can easily share and collaborate, I think this book is important in helping to break down the limitations of the historical organisational structures we have built.

“Social media created both the potential for people to open up their social world and to restrict it into self-defined groups, or cyber tribes”


I hope the above recommendations are useful for those trying to identify what to read next.   I would also welcome any recommendations or suggestions from others as to  books to read during this period of lockdown.



Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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