Condolences

It is with a heavy heart that I share with you all the news of Peter Bernardini’s passing.  No words can express the extent of the sorrow that I feel over his loss.  Peter was a student in several of our classes, he was a support for our students with disabilities, a gifted actor in our theater productions, and a dear friend to many of us here at HW.  He will always be remembered as a warm, gentle, genuine, loving young man. 

Please show your support for Peter’s family through their website: gofundme.com/pray4pjb

 

We will update as possible with information regarding arrangements.

Peter Bernardini

Dear Colleagues,

This wonderful young man worked in the Disability Access Center at Harold Washington for many years, before recently leaving to pursue greater plans. He was also a student here, taking classes periodically from the Fall of 2003 through the Spring of 2012. You may have also seen him walking through the halls with a smile on his face and a warm “hello” to everyone he passed.

On August 14th, on his way to a new life in Portland, Peter’s car was rear-ended by a semi. He is on life support in Wyoming. His family is asking for prayers and positive thoughts for Peter.

A webpage has been set up in case you would like to make a donation to support his family as they have traveled to be by his side. Faculty Council members will also be collecting cash donations and sending your well wishes along to his family.

http://www.gofundme.com/pray4pjb

 

Thank you,

The Faculty Council

Theresa Carlton (Math/CIS)
Jessica Bader (Art/Architecture)
Molly Turner (English)
Jennifer Armendarez (Speech)
Chao Lu (Math)
Kamran Swanson (Humanities)
Michal Eskayo (ELL)

Food Tomfoolery on Eleven: Considerations for Consideration

On Tuesday, faculty will come together at 30 East Lake Street for HW Faculty Development 2014. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, our excellent CAST leadership, Megan Ritt and Andrew Cutcher, have arranged (like John and Gitte in the past) for boxed lunches. Only on Friday will we have to brown bag it. And, I’m not complaining. Food is expensive.

I’ve written a few posts this year, and I’ve mentioned how grateful I am for the sabbatical I have been on and the research I have been able to undertake and write about. I am grateful for past (and current) union leadership who have laid the groundwork for the concentrated (and paid) professional development sabbaticals provide. I would not have been able to eat without earning my salary while on sabbatical.

On Monday, August 25, I, like my colleagues, will greet new students, and in my ENG 101s, I will use the course I designed two years ago. The theme of the course is food, and in it my students begin by learning about food deserts in Chicago. No, not sweet desserts that follow a meal, but food deserts–the places in the city of Chicago that Mari Gallagher made noticeable with her research.

Ever hear of a food desert? A food deserts is a place where access to fresh produce and meats, like those found in a supermarket, are miles away. You might live in one. Our students live in food deserts. Our employees live in food deserts. Regardless of access to food, or even with access, some people can’t afford it.

In 2013, the Mayor’s office released data suggesting that 400,000 people in Chicago live in a food desert with the nearest grocery store 1/2 a mile away. And still, putting grocery stores closer to those who live in food deserts doesn’t put money in their pockets to buy food. I’m sure the content of this post comes as no surprise to most, especially educators in the CCC system.

If you’ve read your CCC e-mail recently, you may have noticed the announcement regarding stolen lunches on the 11th floor. In the e-mail, it states, “Please be aware that theft is an offense punishable by termination,” and while I agree with the e-mail, I found myself wondering, or better yet trying to understand, why someone would steal food from the break room?

If whomever is stealing food is hungry, then stealing the food isn’t the crime. If a member of our HW community is hungry, what can we do about it? What should we do about it? What can we do about it? We can be complacent, and we can enforce rules that deny the nuances of the situation, or we can see this for a problem that plagues our city and our college and strive to solve the problem. We can start in our own community at HW.

Primary and Secondary Sources: It’s Trickier than Your Students Think

Reposted from my blog, and with a tip of the hat to KB for the idea.

 

Definitions and Explanations

primary source is an original object or document from a specific time or event under study. Primary sources include historical and legal documents, interviews, eyewitness accounts, results of experiments, survey data, observations, diaries, paintings, works of literature, ancient pieces of pottery unearthed in Iraq, and much more . In the natural and social sciences, primary sources are often empirical studies — research where an experiment was done or a direct observation was made.

secondary source is anything that’s written about a primary source, such as  an essay about a novel, a  newspaper article about AIDS research, a history textbook, a movie review, or subsequent thoughts on The Gettysburg Address.

 

Can a single source ever be both?

Not really, but it can be confusing.  For instance, if I am writing a paper about global warming, a newspaper article that discusses new research on the topic issue is a secondary source.  But if I am writing a paper about the media’s coverage of global warming, then the newspaper article is a primary source.  What you are studying changes your relationship to the material. To further muddy the water, a secondary source may very well INCLUDE primary source materials in the form of pictures, statistics, or quotes, and that MIGHT work for your teacher, but it might not.  Likewise, to ensure accuracy, it is a good practice to track down the primary source if you can just to verify it.

 

Examples

This chart, created by librarians at the Indiana University Bloomington, illustrates kinds of primary and secondary sources by discipline:

 

Discipline Primary Source Secondary Source
Archeology farming tools treatise on innovative analysis of Neolithic artifacts
Art sketch book conference proceedings on French Impressionists
History Emancipation Proclamation (1863) book on the anti-slavery struggle
Journalism interview biography of publisher Randolph Hearst
Law legislative hearing law review article on anti-terrorism legislation
Literature novel literary criticism on Desolation Angels
Music score of an opera biography of the composer Mozart
Political Science public opinion poll newspaper article on campaign finance reform
Rhetoric speech editorial comment on Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech
Sociology voter registry Ph.D. dissertation on Hispanic voting patterns

 

The librarians at Princeton also offer a good explanation of this potentially tricky concept.

 

When to Use Each

I think sometimes students view primary sources as “the real” sources, the ones that tell the truth and have not been adulterated by distance, time, or misrepresentation.  And there is some truth to that.  I often get e-mail forwards that say things like, “A new study by Harvard proves _________.”  The author of the email will often include a link to the study, and if you take the time to click on it and read it, you will often find that the original author of the forwarded email is either misunderstanding of misrepresenting what the ACTUAL study reveals.  So obviously in that case, you want the primary source. But finding the primary source has in some ways become trickier in the age of the internet, now that people can video something, heavily edit it, post it online (or on the news), and build a following and a narrative before the truth ever comes out. Consider this and this.  In the cases of Ed Schultz’s misrepresentation of George W. Bush and James O’Keefe’s misrepresentation of ACORN, what were taken as the primary sources were actually secondary sources–edited versions of the raw footage, so caveat emptor!

But keep in mind that there are other times when a secondary source is preferable.  Primary sources are always products of their times, and thus, a political speech from 1960 will not reflect an understanding of the present world, just as the Declaration of Independence won’t tell you who won the American Revolution, and an original research study about living with AIDS written in 1999 won’t explain the current best practices. Also, a distanced summary of a field that reflects all of its ups and downs and points and counterpoints is likely to give you a better understanding of the field than reading a single experiment or research paper. For instance, if you read Andrew Wakefield’s Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children, published in Lancet, 1998 (a primary source), you might find it persuasive in its indication that vaccines are linked to autism. However, reading a broader overview of the field, for instance a secondary source such as Good investigative reporting may finally debunk the myth that vaccines cause autism, published in Harvard Health Publications would reveal that the study was ultimately retracted by Lancet in 2010 because the research methods were flawed.

 

Being informed means more than finding the exact article that backs up your thesis; it means understanding how all the articles fit together within the broader structure and knowledge of the discipline. Information literacy demands attention to both primary and secondary sources as well as the critical thinking necessary to evaluate each for timeliness, credibility, and bias.

Singling Out Jenny McCarthy: What Autism, CPS, and Ethos Have in Common

A few weeks back, I was aimlessly reading FB post updates, and I noticed Jenny McCarthy (an actress and comedian) was being skewered, once again, in the media and on Twitter, for her views on vaccinations and immunizations and the autism-vaccination hypothesis. You may recall, years ago, McCarthy using her son as evidence for the validation of this hypothesis. People listened to Jenny McCarthy, which was odd to me.

I remember watching the MTV show, Singled Out. The Nerdist himself, Chris Hardwick, (and current host of Talking Dead) and McCarthy co-hosted the show. It was a dating game, and while I wasn’t interested in dating at the time, I was interested in anything MTV. I remember McCarthy and Hardwick being funny, and in retrospect, I probably didn’t really understand the humor on the show, but they were funny: they were comedians.

Around the same time, a British physician, Andrew Wakefield et al. (1998), misanalyzed data from an Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) study and misreported findings that included a supposed link of MMR vaccines to autism. His study was reported in The Lancet, and eventually, after severe outcry from the medical community because of a lack of rigor in the analysis among other problems, the article was retracted. The message was clear: Wakefield (and the other authors) were out of line and off the mark: there was no link between MMR and autism. (For a more thorough account, read the Harvard Health article.)

The difference, I think, between McCarthy’s anecdotes and Wakefield’s bad science (and that’s an understatement) is that the audience in Wakefield’s case new better: they knew that in order to continue to build knowledge, they would need to be critical, and they were. So, what is it with celebrities? McCarthy is a comedian and actress, but why was she given so much press, and why did so many people believe her anecdotes? What made McCarthy a better source of information than Wakefield?

I don’t think the answer is simple, but I do think it is ingrained in the culture where we reside here in the U.S. We don’t mind getting advice from celebrities, on the whole, and I think we encounter this each and every day in the classroom. For some reason, our society and our culture of celebrity have merged and confused popularity and fame with ethos (credibility) and value. In fact, in class, when we explicitly discuss logic and reasoning, I show a clip of an interview Matt Lauer conducted with Tom Cruise (2007).

In the video, Cruise discusses Ritalin and post-partum depression with the enthusiasm and the expertise of a professional. But, he’s not an expert; he’s an actor. I usually remark that if Cruise wants to discuss what it’s like to dance around in his underwear while filming Risky Business or being Suri’s dad, he’s more than qualified to do so–he has that expertise and ethos; however, if I want to know about post-partum depression, I’m probably going to talk to an expert (and definitely not Tom Cruise). Discussing an appeal to a false authority (which is what I try to exemplify by showing the clip), is a good reminder for me to beware of where I get my information.

Recently, Adriana Tapanes-Inojosa shared a Sun-Times letter to the editor, “Under Emanuel, principals have no voice.” I read the article, and as an educated reader, I know I intrinsically look for clues to evaluate the credibility (and ethos) of the author. The author is a principal who provides his credentials, including his experience as a teacher and his experience as a principal. While I can’t speak to the experience of being an educator or principal in the CPS system, I can speak to the issue of appealing to false authorities, like Jenny McCarthy and Tom Cruise.

And Troy LaRaviere is an authority. He has the experience, which isn’t anecdotal–he is a professional educator. I encourage you to consider the underlying issues LaRaviere is pointing out, implicitly, in the article: a lack of appreciation and value for those who are in the classroom and a de-valuing or undervaluing of experience and expertise. I am not suggesting to merely accept credentials at face value (remember Wakefield?).

I am strongly suggesting maintaining a critical and thoughtful framework. And I am strongly suggesting valuing the expertise and experiences of educators after they successfully navigate your critical and thoughtful framework.

(NB: The most succinct response to an attempt to de-value or undervalue expertise was on Fox News. You can see it here.)