HWFDW: Summer Reading

During our fabulous local HWFDW (thanks Kristin and Kamran for rocking it!), I hosted a roundtable discussion for faculty to talk about something they had read this summer and it was maybe my favorite session ever. I came with a mess of books to talk about just in case no one showed up, but it turned out that we had more people, books, and recommendations than we could fit in to a measly hour. We probably could have fit more in, but in the middle of talking about the teaching-related book I brought, Claude Steele’s Whistling Vivaldi (about Stereotype Threat), I started to feel a little bit of it myself and rambled on a bit too long (I know, I know–Dave rambling? how can anyone tell the difference?). Anyway, that aside, I came away with exactly what I’d hoped to acquire: a fantastic and widely varied list of readings I’ve never heard of nor seen that sound too tempting to ignore!

And now, in fulfillment of the promise I made various people in the hours and days following (and with the participants’ permission) here is that list!

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Website Wednesday: Syllabus Project

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

I read about this week’s site in the NY Times in an article written by the researchers associated with the project. Their baby is called The Open Syllabus Project, and it has a really interesting tool associated with it called the Syllabus Explorer.

I’ll let you read about the origins and aims of the project, but, if nothing else, check out the Syllabus Explorer, which features a list of the most frequently assigned texts (across all disciplines or filtered by discipline). Then, when you click on one of those texts, you see a list of the texts most frequently assigned with that one. it’s awesome. I’ve already added four or five books to my Amazon wish list for next summer (if I can wait that long).

It is a rabbit hole, for sure, so make sure you’ve submitted your NSW’s first!

PS: If you’d like a laugh, be sure to check out the Syllabus of the Month post on their blog, and if you want to be inspired, check out their post about David Carr’s syllabus (click on the link to check out his syllabus–it’s magic).

Website Wednesday: Chicago and Guns

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

When fall rolls around–and I mean real fall: crunchy leaves, frosty ground, 40 degree mornings–I get excited about going hunting. Growing up that way, and continuing to do it (and love it), give me a little different perspective on guns than most of the people with whom I share political commitments (somewhere between hippie and pinko, according to my father). But guns and gun usage are undoubtedly a problem in Chicago and in the United States.

Four pieces for your consideration:

~”America’s Mass Shooting Capital is Chicago

~And it’s not just your imagination–it really is worse this year

~But it’s also true that some of the most notorious, recent mass shooters got guns that they shouldn’t have been able to get if the current laws were enforced

~And it’s not clear that an outright prohibition would be better

And sometimes it’s hard to know what exactly is going on, since crime data (like all data) isn’t exactly (ever?) truly raw data.

 

 

 

Random Readings

This piece on Thoreau is laugh out loud funny and completely made me rethink, and want to reread, a book I’ve loved.

Lots of people die in October and November. This is a Q and A with someone who knows it from the inside.

And, finally, “A Public Assembly Facilities Manager Considers Jurassic World.” Simply awesome. Reminds me of my high school physics teacher’s assignment to analyze a Road Runner cartoon for affinity to and violations of natural laws for an exam.

 

 

Website Wednesday: The Atlantic

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

The Atlantic has been killing it for a few years now, especially on topics related to race, class, and sex/gender, but the pace of excellent readings has picked up decidedly in the last six months or so.

Let’s start with their star. If you’re not on the Te-Nehisi Coates train yet, you should be. Coates’ book Between the World and Me came out last spring and if nothing else introduced a new generation of readers and activists to the work of one of America’s great writers–James Baldwin–through his adoption of of Baldwin’s essay trope. In the book, In his book Coates, like Baldwin, writes a letter to a member of the next generation about what it means to be a young black man in America. The book has provoked a ton of commentary–a review by Michelle Alexander, another by Tressie MC (who also published a really interesting description of her reading process–which I wish I’d read when I was an undergrad or grad student) and ALSO publishes provocative sociological/media commentary like this in The Atlantic), not to mention David Brooks and elsewhere.

But that’s not all he’s done. He also published an EPIC consideration of and argument for Reparations and, more recently, a discussion of “The Black Family in the Age of Incarceration.”

And, as suggested above, it’s not just a one man show. Want to know more about the Black Lives Matter movement? They’ve got you. Want to know more about what some politicians are doing to try to stem the disproportionate violence faced by young black men? They’ve got you.

Maybe you need a break from reading about race? Or you’re interested in intersectionality and want to read and learn more about Gender, or Class (especially as it affects adjuncts–as here in “The Cost of an Adjunct” or here in “There Is No Excuse for How Universities Treat Their Adjuncts.” 

Or maybe you’re interested in seeing what else they’ve written about teaching and learning and colleges–maybe you’re interested in trigger warnings and the recent, splashy argument titled, “The Coddling of the American Mind,” or the bad science of Alcoholics Anonymous, or the cognitive benefits of doodling, or a technological solution, called Project Euler, to learning anything, as told through the author’s efforts to learn coding, or a consideration of the state of stand-up comedy (and, by extension, free speech) on college campuses, or municipal disaster preparedness (and the lack of it), or immigration/political arguments, or privacy and corporate data collection, or David Hume and Allison Gopnik’s mid-life crisis (such a great writer–you should read her stuff and you don’t have to know a thing about Hume to enjoy it).

Check out what they’re doing over there. It’ll make you smarter and give you at least one thing that you can post as a Blackboard link for your students. Promise.

For example, I’ve posted this one for my philosophy students…

Three for Thursday

Here are three options for you to check out to see what’s going on in a discipline other than your own:

~Declining Student Resilience: An article from Psychology Today about the massive spike in recent years of student needs for psych services. I have MANY criticisms of our district office, but I cannot deny that they did a really great thing in establishing Wellness Centers across the colleges and putting Michael Russell in charge of all of them. I have not seen as much of the kinds of things discussed in this article as they report–perhaps our students are more resilient than the typical, traditional student?

~The Hit Charade: From The Atlantic, an eye–opening article for anyone interested in Pop Culture (or with kids who listen to a lot of Top-40) about how a handful of unknowns who are the architects of the ear candy that dominates the pop radio airwaves. Also has some interesting stuff about re-use, artistry, and the music market.

~What Does the Giraffe Say: Speaking of music hits from Scandinavians, it turns out that giraffes DO have something to say, though not quite as catchy as “Jacha, chacha, chacha, chow!”

Website Wednesday: The Digital Quad

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

Wright College President, David Potash, was less enthusiastic about the New York Times Education articles than I was, apparently. How do I know this? Because I check out his blog every couple of weeks to see what he’s been reading (and writing) about. In fact, you have two options! There’s The Digital Quad for his reviews and thoughts about Higher Ed and then hynagogicfun for everything else,

You’ll mostly find book reviews, though he sprinkles in the occasional essay (such as this recent one on transcripts). They are well written and thoughtful engagements with the books and brief enough to read pretty quickly. They are also consistently and deliberately structured and unfailingly fair in their presentation of the books, regardless of the quality of his views of them.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve thought about using one or another of his essays more than once as models for student writing about the books we’re reading and examples of the “They Say, I Say” approach, exemplifying how to say something about a book, present a summary of it, and then elaborate on the original thesis.

I am grateful that he’s willing to read a lot of stuff that I have no interest in reading or have interest in but not the time. It’s also interesting to see what he has to say about books I’ve read and admired (such as Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow and Edward Tufte’s The Visual Display of Information). I don’t always agree with his assessments, as I didn’t with respect to How College Works, but even in those cases, I appreciate the value of reading another view and being forced to rethink my own. The posts tend to follow the rhythms of the semester, you can expect a flurry (ok, that might be overstating it, but whatever) of new posts as semesters begin and end, with a post or two sprinkled in the middle. More in the summer and over breaks than during the semester when the responsibilities of the college press a bit harder, but it’s clear that whether reviewing or not, the reading is a constant

If I were forced to provide a criticism, either by a structural commitment or a forceful interlocutor, it would be that it’s impossible, ti seems, to post any comments on his site. I tried to once, but after writing it up and then signing in and then rewriting it and then hitting various buttons, I was faced with a prompt that rejected my attempt.

So, don’t try to talk back–these communication channels only run one way. But, all things considered, I guess that’s appropriate, in a way, too. Anyway, check them out, particularly The Digital Quad. It’s worth your time.