Reading is a learning experience. It’s a transporter. It’s entertainment.
It’s the key to our QEP.
Through this new Chatter feature, the QEP committee invites employees to write editorials and share their thoughts, tips and reflections on all aspects of reading.
To initiate the series, Dr. Chesney reflects on the reading opportunities of his work day.
“Reading and Leading”
Editorial by Dr. Thom Chesney, president, Brookhaven College
“If you’re reading, you’re leading.” It’s a comment I made more than a year ago at a community meeting, and I’ve just recently reflected on how much it applies to my own circumstances. Most mornings start with my daughter and I meeting at the kitchen table—she with a book ("By the Shores of Silver Lake" currently), and I with the Dallas Morning News on my iPad. She usually asks, “What’s in the news?” I share and reply, “What’s going on with Laura Ingalls?” Our morning reading ritual quietly reinforces the inscription on the green wristband we both wear: Reading: the App for Life.
The reading I do as I commute from McKinney to work is of a different variety. I rarely take the same route on consecutive days. Instead, I like to meander a few streets or neighborhoods off the GPS-preferred track to see what’s being built, razed, opening soon or going out of business. It helps me get a reasonable read on opportunities and challenges we might face as a college which is so keenly connected to its surrounding communities.
The reading of the work day is both vital and voluminous. In the 200-300 email messages I receive daily, no more than 10 percent request or require a reply; however, each sender anticipates a reader. I survey subject lines like newspaper headlines and typically gravitate toward those that tell the whole story in just that one line, which suggests that the writer has a clear sense of audience and purpose. For better or worse, higher education sustains itself, in part, by creating an endless supply of online and printed research summaries, books and monographs, journals, top five and 10 lists etc. that advise and inundate us with information. I give most of what comes my way the coffee test: if it can maintain my interest from one sip to the next—about 30 seconds—I may flag it for a deeper read and conversation with others later on. If not, there’s always the recycle bin or an empty slot in the Building A mailroom.
Finally, before the day’s end, I read something solely for myself—a practice I adopted from my wife, who has done so for decades, to “complete the day on your own terms.” Novels and poetry are my standards, but I’ve recently completed cartoon anthologies of Charles M. Schulz and The New Yorker. I also read the books assigned in school to our children—not only to engage with the associated homework but also to encourage their lifelong reading and inquiry. Ultimately, reading probably falls in the category of quiet leadership, which suits me just fine. Let me know how you’re reading and leading at tChesney@dcccd.edu.
If you are interested in submitting an editorial for this monthly feature, please contact Anna Masters, QEP committee chair.