Most helpful critical review
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Finding Oneself & Serving Others
on April 7, 2014
This story portrays the author's self definition search as he clarifies who he is and finds who he wants to be. It portrays his early childhood, teenage and young adult periods of development and how those periods reflect the influences he felt from family, friends, school and the travels he took which were mostly on his own to far away places in the undeveloped areas of Asia, South America and Africa.
Adam Braun, the author, experienced an above average upbringing due to his upper middle class parents and their drive to push him to a high income profession. Because he was good in mathematics he landed a job after college graduation with a Wall Street consulting and acquisition firm that pressed him and the others of his group to work long hours cracking out statistically based analyses to assist business organization clients improve the bottom line and absorb other organizations which resulted in achieving benefits to the clients and his team of consultants that accrue to US society's top 1%.
This exercise caused the author to find that he was less than satisfied and he tried to reach a sense of personal worth and meaning by using his off time to develop a vision he had for improving educational opportunity in parts of the underdeveloped world by funding and building schools. This was usually done in coordination with other Non-governmental Organizations (NGO'S) on site in the theater of opportunity and in coordination with the home country's Department of Education.
The strengths of this story center around how an individual of the author's generation can resist and overcome the prevalent materialistic attitudes and tech orientation of his times and peers to draw out the personal needs of many others feeling the same urge that he held to help others using their education, business and financial resources to reach the goal of building over one hundred schools.
The weaknesses of this story, and there are several, relate to the author's failure to explain many important principles of development and organization; and, he left out the many dangling questions about his organization's mission and operations. Specifically: Why did it become necessary to partner with NGO's having related missions, especially at the point of early entry into a target area in Asia, South America and Africa? How is the organization's educational development work to be sustained once a local beach head is established into perpetuity? What are the documented statistical results of basic early child education in the specific sites the Promise of a Pencil is operating in? Can there be standards for educational curriculum that are defined that will foster the ability of the program's students to move up the formal education ladder beyond the Promise of a Pencil program's resources? How can the cost of higher levels of education be funded for the students that succeed at the initial levels of education offered by Promise of a Pencil? Are there principles of of organizational development that might be parsed from the author's experience, both good and bad, that could be transmitted to others who may be reaching out to help similar levels of targeted groups offering different kinds of support and trying to find ways for their beneficiaries to stand on their own at some reasonably early point in time?
The author brushes over these areas with far too light of a brush stroke and is overwhelmed by his own persona--which detracts from the intent of his worthy message. He could have scoured deeper but comes off like he was in a rush, or his editors prevailed, resulting in knocking out the meat in many places, only leaving the skeleton for the reader to chew on.