As I wrote at this time last year, I think it is very valuable for school-leaders and other graduation speakers to use fresh, current quotations in graduation speeches, and to assist the many very busy people preparing these speeches, I offer the following:   All the books quoted below are “current” in the sense that they have been published in the past year.

Click here to see my suggested quotations from 10 books current a year ago, and here to read my 8 Suggestions for Graduation Speeches by Principals.

Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin

The dreams we need are self-reliant dreams. We need dreams based not on what  is but on what might be. We need students who can learn how to learn, who can  discover how to push themselves and are generous enough and honest enough to  engage with the outside world to make those dreams happen.

Amplified by the Web and the connection revolution, human beings are no  longer rewarded most for work as compliant cogs. Instead, our chaotic world is  open to the work of passionate individuals, intent on carving their own paths. That’s the new job of school. Not to hand a map to those willing to follow it, but  to inculcate leadership and restlessness into a new generation.

In the connected world, reputation is worth more than test scores. Access to data  means that data isn’t the valuable part; the processing is what matters. Most of all, the connected world rewards those with an uncontrollable itch to make and lead and matter.

Imagine by Jonah Lehrer

Human creativity has increasingly become a group process. Many of us can work much better creatively when teamed up…The most creative spaces are those which hurl us together. It is the human friction that makes the sparks.”

Group creativity [he writes] is becoming more necessary because we live in a world of very hard problems: all the low hanging fruit is already gone. Sometimes a creative problem is so difficult that it requires peoples to connect their imaginations together.  More than 99% of scientific fields have experienced increased levels of teamwork in published research, with the size of the average team increasing by about 20% per decade. 

Creativity is a verb, and it is a very time consuming verb.  It’s about taking an idea in your head, and transforming that idea into something real.  And that’s always going to be a long and difficult process. 

It wasn’t uncommon for Beethoven to experiment with 70 versions of a phrase before settling on the final one.  ‘I make many changes, and try again, until I am satisfied.’

When  19th c. Romantic poet Samuel Coleridge was asked why he would take breaks from writing poetry and attend  chemistry demonstrations in London, He answered “I attend the lectures so that I can renew my stock of metaphors.”

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, quoting Jobs directly:

You would think that the CEO of Disney would be curious how Pixar was [being so successful.]  But during that 20 year relationship, he visited Pixar for a total of two and a half hours, only to give little congratulatory speeches.   He was never curious.  I was amazed.Curiosity is very important.

You always have to keep pushing to innovate.  The Beatles were the same way.  They kept evolving, moving, refining, their art.   That’s what I’ve always tried to do– keep moving.

What drove me?  I think most creative people want to express appreciation for being able to take advantage of the work that’s been done by others before us. Everything I do depends on other members of our species and the shoulders we stand on.  And a lot of us want to contribute something back to our species and add something to the flow.  We try to use the talents we do have to express our deep feelings, to show our appreciation of all the contributions that came before us, and to add something to the flow.   That’s what has driven me.

Truth Beauty Goodness Reframed by Howard Gardner

The first and primary sense of “good” has been with us over the millennia: it refers to how we treat our relatives, friends, neighbors: are we cruel or kind, generous or selfish, fair or unfair?

in a way that could not have been anticipated 25 years ago, people, even when very young,  are finding themselves members of large communities via the Internet; any participant in the digital media is necessarily connected to an indeterminate number of others

we need constructive engagement: far more than in other spheres of young people’s lives, digital media make essential the modeling and coaching of healthy habits.”

Today a newly reigning cliche– lifelong learning, must become more than a cliche.  Learning ceases to be the targeted burden of childhood and adolescence; it becomes the privilege, but also the obligation, or an entire lifetime.  We now know that, contrary to long-held beliefs, the adult nervous system remains plastic, flexible, and capable of effecting new neural connections.

Disciplines can change fundamentally, splintering, coalescing, reconfiguring.  Moreover and crucially, nowadays much work is no longer discipline based- it is problem-centered (and appropriately so)); it involves interdisciplinary content knowledge as well as the capacity to work fluently and flexibly with individuals from different disciplines as well as different cultures.

It has become much easier for adults, both within and outside of educational institutions, to remain in tune and in touch if they so wish.  The ubiquitous media-old, new, mechanical, electronic, digital– enable that contact.   Anyone regularly engaged with the Internet and the web, anyone who blogs or reads blogs, will be as exposed as often as he or she likes to what is new, noteworthy, changing. 

Quiet by Susan Cain

We know from myths and fairy tales that there are many different kinds of powers in this world.  One child is given a light saber; another a wizard’s education.  The trick is not to amass all the different kinds of available power, but to use well the kind you’ve been granted.

Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure by Tim Harford

There is a recipe for successfully adapting.  The three essential steps are: to try new things, in the expectation that some will fail; to make failure survivable, because it will be common; and to make sure that you know when you’ve failed.

Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner

Increasingly in the 21st century, what you know is far less important than what you can do with what you know… Academic content is not very useful in and of itself. It is knowing how to apply it in new situations or to new problems that matters most in the world of innovation.

There are three essential  interrelated elements to intrinsic motivation: Play, Passion, and Purpose.  Whether, and to what extent, parents, teachers, and employers, encourage these qualities makes an enormous difference in the lives of young innovators.

Innovators DNA by Clayton Christensen

Throughout our research, we were struck by the consistency of language that innovators use to describe their motives.  Jeff Bezos of Amazon wants to “make history,” Steve Jobs to put a “ding in the universe,” Skype Cofounder Niklas Zennstrom “to be disruptive in the cause of making the world a better place.” Embracing a mission for change makes it much easier to take risks and make mistakes.

Innovative companies are almost always led by innovative leaders.

Why do innovators question, observe, network, and experiment more than typical executives?  As we interviewed them, we found two common themes.  First, they actively desire to change the status quo.  Second, they regularly take smart risks to make that change happen.

Thinking Fast and Slow  by Daniel Khaneman

The question that is most often asked about cognitive illusions is whether they can be overcome: errors of intuitive thought are often difficult to prevent, and biases cannot always be avoided; and as a way to live your life, continuous vigilance is not necessarily good, and it is certainly impractical: constantly questioning our own thinking would be impossibly tedious.   The best we can do is compromise: learn to recognize situations in which mistakes are likely and try harder to avoid significant mistakes when the stakes are high.

13 Things that don’t Make Sense: The Most Baffling Scientific Mysteries of our Time by Michael Brooks  (turns out I had the copyright date on this book wrong– it is not a “current” title, but a 2008 book).  Still great.

The future of science depends on identifying the things that don’t make sense; our attempts to explain anomalies are exactly what drives science forward… Admitting that you’re stuck doesn’t come easy to scientists…. But once you’ve done it, you can continue with your journey.  In science, being stuck can be a sign that you are about to make a great leap forward.  The things that don’t make sense are, in some ways, the only things that matter.