Marva Collins’ Way: Returning to Excellence in Education

Oh boy, how much I was looking forward to writing about this book. And, at the same time, I was stalling, because I don’t know whether this entry will do justice to the book and its value. What I can tell is that it shaped my understanding of parenting and leadership to quite an extent. That is why the book: Marva Collins’s Way: Returning to Excellence in Education is so dear to me.

On the backside it reads:

It is Marva Collins’ attitude that makes children learn. It is her constant “You can do it” that convinces her students there is nothing they cannot achieve. This independent-minded teacher’s drive, courage, and dedication has helped her students reach high levels of accomplishment. Her story can be any parent’s or teacher’s model.

I read about this book in a book about positive psychology by Tal Ben-Shahar. After he referenced it for the second or third time, I got curios. At first, I was hesitant to get it or not. I have a mild bias towards reading new books. I think that new books will build on top of old one and harvest their knowledge and I want to get the most recent research and findings. However, now and then, there is a gem which is a bit older. This book is one of those gems.

It was written in the 1980s and is about a woman (Marva Collins) and her life story as a teacher. It also includes her upbringing, which gives a good insight into how she became the person she is. How she struggled with the educational system in Chicago and how she ended up founding her own school. She took on children in her school who were labeled as unteachable, or lost cases. Which already makes me angry and raises the question how you can label a child of six or seven years old a lost case?

The book illustrates how she deals with every child individually. Which is what every human needs, as we are all individuals and it often doesn’t make sense to be treated the same way and be measured by the same standards. She introduces peer-to-peer learning, she connects several subjects in one lesson, and she challenges and develops her students. All of her students.

It is this approach which taught me a lot how to become a better leader. And I think, it will also help me to be a good dad for my children. To a large extent, parenting and leading people at work are similar and you can extrapolate methods and use it for something else.

If you wonder about the validity of her approach and the influence it has, let me tell you a story. A few years ago, I already read the book twice, I attended a lecture on modern ways of leadership by the then Head of HR of SAP. His statements and new ways sounded very familiar to me and after the presentation, I took the chance to talk to him. I asked him whether he had heard of the book about Marva Collins and he just looked at me and nodded, as if saying: yes, that’s where we got this from.

Until today, I read the book three times. I gave it away as a present six times and I lend it to others two or three times. If you want to read about a fascinating woman with an incredible story, I can highly recommend buying this book. It can help you become a better leader and a better parent. In general, it can help you to become a better human being as it shows, how to treat others with respect and the intention of enablement and development.


Have a wonderful day and take care =)


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