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Genesis and the Genius of David Murray
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The Ultimate Practical Guide for Educating “Kids”

<i>genesis</i>, a new book on educating kids
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
David Murray, author of genesis.
David Murray, author of Genesis.
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 right time.

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”.

Part I, 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.
Murray, 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 Circle Press.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2007-09-25


 
 

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