From Publishers Weekly
"We are all teachers," writes former Clinton speechwriter and author of The Accidental Asian
. We all have something of value to transmit to others, and Liu has a new spin on how best to do it. Having spent two years talking with official and informal instructors and their students from all walks of life, Liu arrived at five strategies he believes are integral to teaching. These include receiving before transmitting—that is, tuning in to the student's unique qualities and motivations; unblocking and unlocking—helping students overcome their inner obstacles; and zooming in and out—breaking the subject down and then connecting it other matters. A good teacher himself, Liu embeds his lessons in narratives, e.g., following a baseball pitching coach through a season and tracking Jocelyn Wong's climb up the career ladder at Procter & Gamble thanks to a supervisor who was able to see and release the creative passion Wong had suppressed. Liu is a skillful writer and has homed in on points that can help anyone who teaches, whether a parent, a professional mentor or just an older and wiser friend. But he's also a good storyteller, and his anecdotes are frequently more illustrative of great teaching than his theories.
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This book documents the stories of 15 mentors as well as the very personal journey of a former Clinton speechwriter, journalist, and author (The Accidental Asian
, 1998). Two years in the researching and writing, this is a riveting analytical description of how great teachers made a difference and how they work their magic. The 15 stories are as disparate as American lives: Ivana Chubbuck, a Hollywood acting coach, who's instructed Halle Berry and Eriq LaSalle; eurhythmics teacher Bob Abramson, who helps students release their inner musician; and chef Alice Waters, of Berkeley's Chez Panisse, who gives to youngsters a real sense of what food and agriculture mean. The five common lessons that Liu extracts are, perhaps, not world shattering, but they do help define and refine what the best of mentors should be: one-on-one listeners, unblockers of barriers and negative self-images, interpreters of commingling relationships, designers of great cultures, and enablers of role switching, allowing students to experience teaching. The very worthwhile outcome of 24 months of thought and study. Barbara JacobsCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved