Startling, very valuable new book for families & educators

Startling and very valuable new book for families, educators

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Joe Nathan

Joe Nathan

One of the best books I’ve read in the past five years begins with a startling statement and a car breakdown. “Road Map to Power” is a wonderful, brief book of less than 200 pages. Many families and educators will find it to be very valuable.

The car breakdown occurs on a 100-degree, extremely humid Missouri day. Dr. Syed Arshad Husain, an American child psychiatrist who has worked with children living in war zones and disaster areas, discovered that his luxury car would not start. One of his co-workers gave the doctor a ride home in his modest two-door Toyota Tercel, “splattered with rust holes.” As Husain rode home, he thought about what really matters in life. It’s not necessarily a luxury car or expensive clothes.

There’s nothing wrong with wealth. But Husain has found after many years of work, and considerable research, that wealth definitely does not guarantee happiness.

Co-authors A. Darius Husain, left, and his father, Dr. Syed Arshad Husain. (Photo courtesy of Darius Husain)

Co-authors A. Darius Husain, left, and his father, Dr. Syed Arshad Husain. (Photo courtesy of Darius Husain)

This leads to his startling statement: “There is a high probability that you are average.” That’s not what most of us want to hear. But Husain and his son, educator and co-author A. Darius Husain, say, realistically, virtually all of us are average in most things.

Advertisers know that can be hard for us to accept. The Husains point out that billions of dollars are being spent “to exploit feelings of insecurity.” Advertising tries to convince us if we buy this product or that service, we’ll be happier. Not necessarily.

Among the things that matter most are that youngsters find what they are really good at, what they love, and then utilize their skills, talents, energy and insights. The authors believe that among the most important roles for families and educators is to help young people discover what “I am and I can.” Youngsters who have learned these things are far more likely to be happy and to deal effectively with life’s challenges and problems.

This book does not suggest that we help youngsters be satisfied with mediocrity. Far from it.

But it is a powerful plea, with many examples and considerable research that we help young people identify and become comfortable with their particular gifts and talents. Then adults ought to model and encourage youngsters to make helping others part of their lives. They remind readers, “Everyone has gifts to share with one another.” They urge families and educators to encourage “compassion, integrity, responsibility and service.”

Darius Husain directs Face to Face Academy, a St. Paul charter high school that has received national and state awards for its success with “at-risk” youngsters. One chapter describes how the school uses principles discussed in the book. A video helps show how this is done:

As the authors note, “While your chances of raising a Nobel Prize recipient are slim, raising a resilient child is a strong bet.”

This is good for youngsters and adults. Dr. Husain concludes: “To know that my children will continue the legacy of compassion set forth by my mother and father is a gift to me that can never be repaid. … The best piece of us can now reside in the hearts of thousands who remain to carry the torch of altruism and compassion.”

This practical, positive, excellent book is available online for $12.95 from Amazon:

Joe Nathan, formerly a Minnesota public school teacher, administrator and PTA president, is a former director and now senior fellow at the Center for School Change. Reactions are welcome at

2 Responses to Joe Nathan column: Startling and very valuable new book for families, educators

  1. Peg Larsen says:

    Very true. I am anxious to share this information .

  2. Wayne Jennings says:

    Thanks for telling us about this book, Joe. It reminded me of Ron Berger’s An Ethic of Excellence. This elementary teacher’s students became so accustomed to doing near perfect work that they wouldn’t make a presentation to the city council without numerous rehearsals and corrections. This came to characterize the entire school. Kids want to do good work, do it right and take pride in their work, particularly when the content is of interest,