Book Review: Trust, by David Johnston

The role of an educator is grounded in trust. Trust is the foundation of learning in our homes, classrooms, travel experiences, and in our schools as a whole.

You would be interested in this book if…
… you enjoyed politics and wanted to know more about the role of the GG
… you wanted to learn more about how trust is being eroded in our world and within Canada
… and you wanted to do something about it


The book is divided into 20 different segments under three main headings:
(1) Make Yourself Worth of Trust – lessons learned about how to build trust within yourself, how to make yourself worthy of trust
(2) Build Trust Around You –  how one might ensure that they are acting in a way that builds capacity for trust when working with others, when working institutions (like schools!)
(3) Create a trustworthy and trusted Country – an overview of trust in the world, where is has gone, and how we might work to get it back.

Check out this interview on CBC’s The Next Chapter

As an educator, I read this book with this question in mind: “How might we foster trust as a way of being, in and outside of our role as an educator so that our community members are trustful and trustworthy?”

One answer is Experiential Learning Through Travel. In his role as GG, David Johnston has traveled to every corner of this country, and to many places around the world.  He has encouraged his own children to take to travel to grow as individuals.

“Their experience abroad sparked four qualities in them… One, their natural curiousity… Two, they became more tolerant… Three, their judgement became better because they were able to look  at most questions and situations from more than one perspective…Four, they became more empathetic…” (Pg. 96)

Building trust requires us to put ourselves in the hands of others sometimes. Several schools offer national and international excursions and exchanges. These are opportunities ripe for students to build and reflect on trust. David Johnston quotes Antoine e Saint-Exupery: You are different from me. But because you are different, you do not diminish me, you enrich me.”  What a beautiful and timely message for us to communicate to our students and create opportunities where this sentiment can come alive in their lived experiences.

Another answer is to Invite People to Dance. We can foster trust as a way a being by welcoming voices to within our schools. David Johnston begins with chapter saying, “Trust grows when diversity becomes inclusion”. He uses the metaphor of a dance, and how we need to invite people to the dance:

Trust is built… when we invite people to dance and not when we invite them merely to the dance. (pg. 160)

One of my colleagues, who is now the Manager, Diversity Equity and Inclusion at my school, would also add “Let them contribute to the playlist or let them be the DJ!” What a beautiful thing this might be. While much or what we can do as independent school educators is just beginning to be understood, it is important that we acknowledge, communicate and provide access to all of those in our community that this work has begun. “The best dance is a square dance, because people are dancing as a group and not as individuals or couples.” (pg. 163)

David Johnston’s book was brought to my attention in two ways: the first was that the book was gifted to me, inscribed by the author himself writing “Cherish our Teachers” – a phrase from his installation speech as Governor General of Canada. The second was  from Tom Matthews, Head of St. George’s School in Vancouver. He quoted from it in his speech at the CAIS Leadership Institute. With these two inspiring moments, I had to dive in.

There is much wisdom in this pithy book, brought to life through short anecdotes from his interactions with many significant world leaders, and many Canadian civilians. Given the recent incidents in the United States that smack or racism, this book affirms that Canada, and everyday Canadians, those born here and those recently arrived, can and do play a significant role in building trust back in our world.

Our role as educators has never been more important. Cherish Your Teachers…

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