College of Education Professor Publishes New Book
June 28, 2021
Dr. John H. Curry, chair for the Organizational Learning and Performance department and professor for the Instructional Design and Technology program at the College of Education, has published a new book titled The Greatest Lecture I Was Never Taught: Leadership Lessons and Mentoring Moments from the Lives of Everyday Educators.
“It’s the little things that make an impact on our lives; the everyday things. It’s not the ‘standing up in front of the room’ things. It’s the little side conversations or examples that change people’s lives. And that’s what we’re trying to celebrate in those mentoring moments that are so impactful," Curry said. "That is what the book is really about. The little things that really taught us about leadership and mentoring.”
Curry’s upcoming book, The Greatest Lecture I Was Never Taught, is the first book in a series by Brill Publishing in conjunction with the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT). The series focuses on Leadership and Best Practices in Educational Technology Management.
Curry joined the College of Education in August 2019 as an Associate Professor of Instructional Design and Technology, having most recently served in a similar capacity at Morehead State University for seven years. In January 2021, Dr. Curry was named Chair of the Department of Organizational Learning and Performance.
It has been Curry’s lifelong goal to publish a book. One of his favorites is Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime in Golf, which is a compilation of stories that provide meaningful life lessons.
“I love this book because this is the way I look at life; I look for those life lessons from everyday conversations,” Curry said.
Another book that impacted Curry is, This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women, edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman. This book traces its origin to the work of Edward R. Murrow, a famous broadcast journalist who started a radio program in the 1950s called This I Believe. The book is a collection of short, intelligent, and inspirational essays that compel readers to reflect on their own beliefs.
Wanting to combine storytelling and philosophy in a book about mentoring, Curry reached out to one of his former doctoral students, Dr. Sean Jackson, about co-editing a book. Jackson enthusiastically agreed, and soon the two put out a call for personal short stories about lectures people were never taught and experiences or observations that provided lifelong lessons about leadership and mentoring. Curry and Jackson wanted stories that were positive, and ones that included the names of the person responsible for teaching the valuable life lessons. Curry revealed, “We wanted authors to identify their mentors and leaders because we wanted to celebrate them.”
In addition to being an editor, Curry also wrote an essay for the book about one of the football coaches in his high school. Even though this coach wasn’t his position coach in football, he inspired Curry. “I had a really pivotal moment in this coach’s Government class my senior year of high school, and he had no earthly idea of the impact that one sentence has had on me 35 years later.”
Curry greatly admired this coach, Randall Lokey, and he loved learning in his class. One day during his class, Curry disagreed with something a guest speaker said and set out to prove her wrong. Though Curry’s comments were technically accurate, his approach came across as that of a know-it-all. Lokey shook his head in disappointment, and when the class concluded, he asked Curry to stay after class. The room cleared, and Lokey simply said to Curry, “When I need a class clown, I’ll let you know.” Curry was dismissed and said that the comment hit him hard. He realized he had intentionally tried to correct the guest speaker in front of everyone for amusement while Lokey chose to show him the respect of correcting him in private. Curry felt embarrassed by his actions. He continues to reflect on this exchange many years later and sometimes asks himself, “Does Coach Lokey need a class clown right now?”
Curry and Jackson discussed their book project at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) conference last year. “We were hoping when we drafted the book proposal, we might be lucky enough to enlist 40 authors. We ended up accepting work from 52 authors and now people are inquiring about a second volume,” added Curry.
In addition to his teaching, service, and writing, Dr. Curry takes his own mentoring duties seriously. He took time to mentor three of his students to become AECT interns (a recognition as one of the top young professionals in the field worldwide), including Rebecca Peacock, who is a current intern and ISU doctoral student. Dr. Curry concluded, “I like to get my graduate students involved to help them expand their networks. AECT is a very graduate student friendly convention. Graduate students can get involved with the review of proposals, they can hold office, and there’s a graduate student assembly.”
Curry has been a member of AECT since 1999. He has served on the Board of Directors for the past six years and is currently the incoming President-elect of the Technology Integrated Learning Division. He co-planned the organization’s 2019 international conference, and he is also the co-planner for the upcoming 2022 international conference.
In his spare time, Curry enjoys fishing, golfing, and spending time attending his children’s activities. He and his wife, Lori, have been married for 29 years, and they have 4 children.