There were three books that I left off my Christmas/Summer reading list. Each of them important for my occupational health and safety (OHS) professional development and personal curiosity.
The first is Rethink – The Surprising History of New Ideas by Steven Poole. This books looks at what we think are new ideas and sees the precursors or the ideas’ previous appearances. I was attracted to this perspective because I am seeing a lot of new ideas in OHS that are familiar and similar to what has come before. However the advocates of some of these ideas do not have an historical perspective or choose not to look to the past as this may tarnish the newness (and marketability) of their new idea. It is also useful to wonder when workplace stress went out of fashion and mental wellbeing came in. I am hoping that Rethink might educate me on some critical thinking techniques.
This review of the book from The Guardian may provide more details (as I have yet to do more than dip into the book).
New Zealander Frank Darby had told me that he was writing a book about workplace bullying some time ago. I received my copy about a month ago. (I also ordered an e-book copy but could not access it online due to a ridiculously complex and incompatible e-reading process and all the help desk could say was try again in the morning. I tried, still without success. I rarely say this but do not buy the e-book directly from Thomson Reuters)
I wrote about New Zealand’s workplace bullying guide in 2014 and said how impressed I was that they had not reproduced Australia’s OHS approach but enhanced it. I am really looking forward to understanding more of the context of the changes and how they have settled in by reading Workplace Bullying by Frank Darby and Andrew Scott-Howman. (Hopefully I will catch up with Frank when I am in New Zealand in May 2017 for the Safeguard Conference)
Over the last seven or eight years I have attended many safety seminars that have advocate for positive psychology. I think I was first exposed to the concepts of this psychology when I had kindergarten-aged children and we were encouraged to phrase the criticism of our children in new ways (rather than the smack of the arse that I received at the same age). I have always felt manipulated by positive psychology even though I have seen the benefits that come from that approach and the focus on the individual and their capacity for resilience has been a constant nuisance in OHS training and seminars.
Smile or Die – How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World by Barbara Ehrenreich seems to address my suspicions but also help me find the best bits of positive psychology. The blurb on this book says it is “a frontal attack on the cult of positive thinking” but I am more interested in “how critical thinking has become marginalised in the US” and how to encourage critical thinking in Australia and about OHS. Always looking for clues and occasionally finding answers.
According to this 2010 review from The Guardian, Ehrenreich says:
“I would like to see more smiles, more laughter, more hugs, more happiness… and the first step is to recover from the mass delusion that is positive thinking”.
I want to see more smiles in 2017.