Posted in trends

Whatever it Takes – Read it

Those of you who have talked to me in the past month know that I am currently obsessed with the book Whatever It Takes by Paul Tough.  It’s about Geoffrey Canada, the Harlem Children’s Zone and the variety of projects the HCZ umbrellas.

I have been a huge advocate for innovation in public schools, both articulated in recent years and in my heart as I was growing up a product of them.  We moved a great deal while I was growing up and I had a chance to see many different school districts across the country.

I spent my post-undergrad years, both subconsciously and intentionally, working on projects and jobs that helped develop programs and spaces for kids to learn in non-school environments.  I care deeply about learning, love to do so myself and I want every kid to have the opportunity to love it as much as I do.

So Geoffrey Canada’s message of opportunity in face of adversity was very appealing to me.  I also really like how he focuses less on cherry picking the talented and driven individuals out of unsavory learning environments and helping them, and more on helping the whole community grow with the stars and the bad apples.  Very inspiring stuff.

But there is more than just that.  I think the book would appeals to:

  • Mothers – cool research on parenting pedagogy
  • Educators – tons of research on teaching to the test and historical sociology of education
  • Race/Class Studies fans – all kinds of research on history of race and poverty studies and how they intersect with education

Great book, plus super easy to read for the layman.  Tear jerker a couple times too with the NPR-esque anecdotes.  I guess that makes sense tho, as that’s where I was first introduced to it, in a “driveway moment” with This American Life.  You should read it.



Joi Podgorny has spent the better part of the past 2 decades working on the bleeding edge of the technology and entertainment industries, from content/brand development and production to leading international support, moderation, community and social teams. Most recently, Joi founded Good People Collective, a consulting agency focused on helping companies and organizations establish, assess and pivot their internal and external cultures to help maximize their potential. She and her team are currently working on an exciting new software project, combining corporate training and virtual reality.

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