|Genesis, a new book on educating kids|
Consider the source, they say. Sometimes the best way to
start a book is to get to know the author.
Consider, then, David Murray, the author of Genesis:
Another Chance for Parents, Teachers, and Anyone Involved in Education.
The author profile on the back of this new book,
which is now available from Circle Press, states
his qualifications as follows:
David Murray, apart from having been a
kid himself, has worked extensively with kids throughout his life.
From soccer coach to catechist, from teacher to youth leader,
from academy educator to school and academy director, his experience
is vast. If anyone is qualified to speak of child
formation, it may not be Murray, but he has gone
and done it anyway. He is currently living in Rome,
Italy and on British Airways. His is not married and
has a multitude of kids.
But there is more. First, Murray
is Irish, which means he has that indefinable quality of
playful eccentricity that sometimes characterizes Irish bachelors. This is very
important for appreciating his sense of humor. (Just roll with
it.) Second, Murray truly is a seasoned expert on forming
kids in the specific style of integral formation used in Regnum
Christi schools and academies—a way of educating the whole person
in a realistic and yet eminently positive way, fully aware
of the reality of the person’s weaknesses and yet also
attentive to the promise of his potential greatness.
The pedagogy that Murray presents in Genesis is an
education in values and virtue, where human and spiritual formation
walk hand-in-hand, and where the goal is to help each
child to live up to his full potential in many
ways: spiritually, humanly, socially, intellectually, and apostolically. There is no
one person—no one teacher, parent, coach, older sibling, friend, or
other role model—who can possibly cover all of these fields.
Which just goes to show that it takes a tribe
to raise a child.
And which makes Murray’s
book all the more necessary for a wide range of
readers. Anyone who is involved in educating and forming youth
should read Murray’s book in order to learn from his
experience in the specific area of human formation. Not to
do so would be to pass up a great gift
that could give just the right insight at just the
|David Murray, author of Genesis.|
Murray does not present Genesis as
the comprehensive guidebook to every possible problem with a child.
It is 352 pages long, but since children are almost
infinitely creative at generating situations that require special attention, a
mere tome would never measure up to such a task.
Rather, what he does present is “a collection of personal
reflections” structured as “a mix between a reference book and
a ‘how-to’ book.” In other words, it is a user-friendly
guide written in an engaging, conversational style and intended for
the reader who is looking for concrete solutions to specific
problems, as well as a wider view of what formation
is all about. It is not theoretical or based on
the latest sociological study or survey. It is experiential, real,
practical, and down to earth.
The book itself is
organized into five main parts, each of which has several
sections, which are further subdivided into “topics”.
entitled “Background Concepts,” addresses “Answers that Need Questions.” This is
a good chapter for people who would like to get
a clearer and more extended explanation of what “integral formation”
is and what human formation in particular tries to achieve.
True to its title, the second part, “The
Four Steps to Integral Formation” presents four formation steps that
the educator has to bear in mind: first, it is
helpful to step back and ask oneself, “What is the
ideal model that we should be striving for?” Once he
has that ideal in view, he has to evaluate the
reality of the specific child in front of him—which involves
getting a sense of his or her strengths, weaknesses, and
“gift qualities”. Third, he has to make a plan of
goals and means to help that child overcome his weaknesses
and optimize his strong points. Last but not least, he
has to know how to motivate and inspire the child
to want to grow into his full potential. This entails
some knowledge of psychology, plenty of observation, and a skillful
way of leading the person without getting in the way.
Part III, on “Matters Related to Formation,” is highly
practical. Every educator struggles sometimes with controlling rowdy teenagers in
a group, or knowing how to deal with the nuts-and-bolts
techniques for supervising, disciplining, punishing, and guiding children in a
balanced, fair, and firm way. This third part offers practical
guidelines that parents, teachers, coaches, babysitters, and interested bystanders will
all find highly relevant and useful.
Part IV on
“The Educator Qualities” is a must-read. Those who teach and
form children often find themselves in need of guidance and
education, too. Murray’s humorous approach (with a fair amount of
real-life cases, often drawing from his own or others’ mistakes)
helps educators see how to project the kind of confidence
and leadership qualities that their mission requires. There are also
plenty of miscellaneous tips offered at the end as a
goldmine of experience.
Part V is “Technical Support”—an even
more practical and “handy” section offering a quick reference guide
to various terms, 100 short-term goals to set for kids,
and “troubleshooters” like: “My kid’s room is a mess—what do
I do?” or “The kids are not going to Holy
Communion” or “The kids don’t pay much attention in class”
and other problems like low grades, exclusive cliques, etc.
always a kid at heart, has written a valuable resource
book that entertains while it informs and guides. Frequent quotations
from the mysterious “Gaelic Book of Wisdom” add another touch
of insight to the mix. One such quote says, “If
an educator really enjoys his work, there is an excellent
chance that he is doing a great job.”
A book like Genesis will help educators of all kinds
to enjoy their work even more than they already do.
The book can be ordered directly at