Beginner's Mind

Regal House Titles
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Winner of the Penelope Niven Award in Creative Nonfiction


– Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple

For parents of young children, their teachers, teachers in training, homeschooling parents, and adults interested in discovering a more loving way for children to blossom in school, Beginner’s Mind is the how-to book we have been waiting for – a book that describes teaching the way we so passionately want it for our children. Told through the eyes of a ten-year-old, Beginner’s Mind asks the question, “How do we want teachers to teach, inspire, and guide our children?” The perfect gift for every teacher.

Praise for Beginner’s Mind

“Quirky, wise, fierce, impossibly creative, Miss D is the fourth-grade teacher we all wish we had. Risk-taking and grace-under-pressure are among the lessons she teaches her students in a hardscrabble shipyard town, sometimes at great cost. M.B. McLatchey has repaid the gift in full, adding Miss D to that pantheon of teachers we never forget, who change our lives forever – for the better. A must-read for every parent and teacher.”

– Kevin McIntosh, Class Dismissed

“Einstein said he loved talking to young children because they hadn’t yet been brainwashed by education. In the sciences, it is so important to look at nature with an open mind, without preconceived notions and biases.  M.B. McLatchey captures all of this in Beginner’s Mind, revealing its secrets to the reader through the innocent eyes of a remarkable fourth grader. Read this book and re-open your mind.”

– Robert Fleck, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Physics & Astronomy, Art History as Science History from the Paleolithic to the Present

“M.B. McLatchey’s readers encounter a visionary in this memoir about her fourth-grade classroom, a place where the dictionary becomes a ‘Sanctuary,’ where students leave space at the top of their papers for Big Ideas, and where the Busy People’s constant motion isn’t considered a nuisance but made useful instead. The teacher, Miss D, insists that her students learn to trust themselves in a world where authority offers little room for singularity. ‘Don’t look back,’ she urges us, because every day is another chance to choose how you want to live your life. Beginner’s Mind has galvanized my teaching.”

– Frankie Rollins, The Grief Manuscript

“This is the work of an original, smart, and talented writer. She has a great storehouse of knowledge and a penetrating understanding of many subjects, including human beings. It is wonderful to read someone who knows a capella, Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei, as well as Carol Channing and Hepburn (and knows the difference).  When has a school room been given such vivid enunciation – the dioramas, shoe boxes, sticker-stars, and clay figure, the comfort of “half-truths” for other children, but not for Miss D’s. With a  “sideways glance,” they took it all in, and were forgiving, like Miss D (whose door says welcome, an endless acquittal). It is difficult to see any of us “condemned,” and yet, there are standards. Standards! I can’t go on admiring line after line, when I am only on the first two pages in my commentary (and my language is so stupid and pale in comparison), but that’s what this essay does to me; it says look, see, remember. Word for word, sentence by sentence, I am enthralled. Thank God for Miss D, and for being reminded that at least one or two of my own teachers were, if not her equals, close sisters. While the writer appears like a new comet on my horizon, I am wild to know what this writer will do next. Meanwhile, she will be “graded,” though A+ hardly describes my admiration.”

– Emily Herring Wilson, Judge, Penelope Niven Award in Creative Nonfiction The Center for Women Writers, Salem College