Book Talk: Fires in the Mind with Kathleen Cushman

Wednesday, April 20th Kathleen Cushman, an independent journalist, author, and editor, discusses her latest book with youth Fires in the Mind: What Kids Can Tell Us About Motivation and Mastery (Jossey-Bass, 2010). Cushman’s research connects young people’s experiences and perspectives with the recent cognitive research on motivation, deliberate practice, and high performance. Drawing on the voices and images of students themselves, her mixed-media presentation sheds new light on what fuels their interests and effort and why they choose to engage and persist with challenging work.

Starting with what youth already know and do well, Fires in the Mind provides thought-provoking materials that help youth and adults answer its central question, “What does it take to get really good at something?” On the blog of the same name, Cushman facilitates a national conversation that aims for a common language with which to discuss the development of mastery, in school and out.

A journalist and educator for four decades, Cushman co-founded the nonprofit What Kids Can Do, which collaborates with diverse youth in the United States and abroad, bringing their voices to bear on the complex challenges that affect their lives and learning. She is also the author of the landmark publication, Fires in the Bathroom and co-author with Laura Rogers of Fires in the Middle School Bathroom, among many other books and publications.

What Critics Are Saying:

“‘Become passionate’ is easy to say, hard to do, impossible to compel. Drawing on the insights of young persons, parents, teachers, and experts, Kathleen Cushman reveals the paths to passionate pursuit of something worthwhile.” –Howard Gardner, Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education, author, Five Minds for the Future; Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences; The Unschooled Mind

“Anyone who cares about schooling or children should read this book.”
–Daniel T. Willingham, author of Why Don’t Students Like School?

“What a refreshing book” Rather than asking the timeworn question ‘How can we motivate these kids?’ Kathleen Cushman performs a lovely act of conceptual Jujutsu and instead asks ‘What can the kids tell us about motivation?’ The answers are smart and thoughtful and brimming with good advice.”
–Mike Rose, author of Why School? Reclaiming Education for All of Us

“An immensely useful, insightful, and indispensable guide to tapping the immense potential in every child. Essential reading for teachers, coaches, and parents alike.”
–Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code

“This book offers a unique window into what all educators ought to consider as vastly important: igniting the passion for learning inherent to us all.”
–Ronald J. Newell, author of Passion for Learning

“No matter what stage we’re at as educators, every teacher can mine this book for many helpful nuggets to support student mastery. We can help ignite ‘fires in the minds’ of our kids, and this wonderful book makes an excellent fire starter.”
–Kathie Marshall, in Teacher Leaders Network blog of the Center for Teaching Quality

“This inspirational book provides very specific model questions that help us know what’s on kids’ minds and what they need. These clear examples of non-judgmental questions are extremely valuable in helping teachers build new ways of connecting with their students. The chapter on homework is a masterpiece.”
–Claire Wurtzel, the Churchill School

“This is a wonderful book for both practitioners and policymakers to use in the making school more sensible, meaningful, and productive for students and their teachers.”
–Elliot Washor, co-director, Big Picture Learning

For an extended review of Fires in the Mind, be sure to see Daniel Greene’s piece in Education Review (February 25, 2011).

This book talk is part of the month’s venue on creativity, comprising library events and offerings in support of the Department of Arts and Humanities Creativity, Imagination, and Innovation Symposium on April 28th and 29th.

Book Talk: Fires in the Mind with Kathleen Cushman
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 from 4 – 5:30pm.
Russell 305

Individuals with disabilities are invited to request reasonable accommodations including, but not limited to sign language interpretation, Braille or large print materials, and a campus map of accessible features. Address these requests to the Office of Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities at (212) 678-3689,, or Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services at (212) 678-3853 V/TTY,