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

Website Wednesday is an occasional 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.

Looking for something else, I came across this article about Bertrand Russell and “everyday philosophy,” which led me to an essay of his that I hadn’t seen before. But I was intrigued by the subtitle, which said, “Part 7.” So, I poked around a bit and came upon THIS–a pretty great index of columns from The Guardian, collected under the header “How to Believe.”

Written by philosophers and theologians, writing for popular audiences, they take readers through topics and thinkers (e.g., The Book of Genesis, the thought of Spinoza, or the poetry of Rumi)  in a series of five to eight columns. It’s a great place to start for someone looking to get a toe-hold on some topic or other on the way to autodidact-ing, and might even make a decent source for secondary, background reading for students. Check it out.

Things You Could (Have) Do(ne) Over Break #6: Chicago Studies Edition

So, if you’ve been a reader of this blog for awhile, you might recall that I sometimes throw up some stuff before or after breaks that you could do/could have done as here, here, here, here, and here. This is one of those.

~This piece in Wired describes the role of social media in exacerbating violence in Chicago, with the Chief Keef/Lil JoJo beef as the prime example. It’s fascinating and disturbing;

~Check out the work of documentary photographer Carlos Javier Ortiz;

~UIC faculty have authorized a strike. May 1st? More on the situation here;

~Isabel Wilkerson did a big chunk of her research for The Warmth of Other Suns at the Newberry Library;

~Chicago State administrators are trying to shut down a faculty blog. (Not that there’s anything to be critical of. Hardly a thing–remember when we used to have students who transferred there? It’s been forever since I’ve had a student who has taken classes there or intended to transfer there). They’re not alone, though. Apparently it is something of a trend as administrators at schools across the country have grown more and more concerned with “message” and their “brand.” Read it and weep for the future;

~This piece on temp agencies, raiteros, and immigrant workers was eye-opening;

~Reading about Nelson Algren’s life is almost as good as reading his work. If you are a fan of Chicago: City on the Make, or ever heard of it, you’ll enjoy this. If you aren’t, you should read one or the other and then decide;

~Columbia College got a new President last July. Speaking of Columbia, their philosopher, Steven Asma (who hired me for my very first real life classroom teaching gig back in January of 2000) wrote a book on fairness and favoritism. He writes a bit about it here;

~The Old Town Ale House is a great bar. So says Roger Ebert, and he knew some things about bars and drinking, and about other things, too–the most important things;

~College football at the University of Chicago;

~A Tribune editorial says that, “The City Colleges of Chicago may not be this area`s most prestigious institution of higher learning, but they have the potential to be one of the most important, offering education and training to vast numbers of people who don`t have the dollars, credentials or access to attend other schools. The system has seldom lived up to its potential…largely because no one outside the system cared much or paid much attention. Now, finally, there is an opportunity for real change…Chicago has a critical need to train residents for skilled work, both to help its citizens gain productive jobs and to keep and attract businesses that need competent workers. These needs can be merged and served in a revamped City Colleges of the `90s.” That’s right. The editorial is from 1991;

~Another Tribune article talks about how the City Colleges “should focus on remedial education for students who did not learn the basics in high school; instruction in English as a second language; and offerings that prepare students who plan to move on to four-year institutions.” That one was from 2000.

Weekend Reading

Weekend Reading is a regular feature with three links to fascinating, provocative, or particularly well-written, (usually) long-form pieces collected over the last three years. There will not be a test, but there may be a theme.

This one goes out to VC Pernot! Enjoy…

~Why Privacy Matters (Even If You Have Nothing to Hide)

~The Seductive Teaching Machine Model (and its history)

~What if Machiavelli Were Analyzing Higher Ed Reforms?

Oh, and one last piece of (unsolicited) advice:

Things You Could Do Over (the Coming) Break #5: Science Edition

In recognition of the new, formerly chemistry teaching Pope and in anticipation of some spring break free time that you may want to fill up with fascinating reading, here is a list of some interesting things I’ve found laying around the intertoobz:

~On Science and its metaphors;

~Learn about Quantum Biology;

~Black holes have firewalls and physicists are confounded;

~Check out Symphony of Science;

The rest of the list is below the “fold”…

(more…)

More Stuff To Read

Looks like they’re getting close to the end of this strike–which is good because I have a still huge and growing backlog of reading to share with you people. Here’s some:

~I have been pained every time I read in an article or a comment about that “Chicago teachers make $71,000, on average” because standing alone that number means nothing. ‘What’s the median? What’s the mode? Is the value set skewed and which way? Who is included in the list? Is that salary or income (i.e., does it include summer school, coaching, etc.?” I shout at my screen. Makes me crazy. Probably because I remember when they used a similar number against us in 2004. Anyway, I’ve been hoping for and waiting for and finally found someone willing to give a little attention to all of that. Here you go:

That aside, there are typically two ways one might choose to compare teacher salaries to determine how they fit into their competitive context. One is to compare teacher salaries to non-teachers of similar age and education level. The overall competitiveness of teacher salaries tends to influence the quality of entrants to the profession. The other is to compare teacher salaries – for similar teachers – across districts within the same labor market…

So, here’s a quick run-down on salaries and student populations – and funding equity (or lack thereof) – in pictures and tables.

~CTU is reminding people why we have unions (included is news about their high levels of support among both parents of CPS students and likely voters, putting the lie to some of the things we’ve heard about the toxicity of the current environment for all unions and Wisconsin, Wisconsin, Wisconsin–boogedy, boogedy, boogedy):

The strike by Chicago teachers is reminding all of us of the reason we have unions, and the reason why they are so feared and hated by those who are in command. The ability of these 29,000 teachers to act as one, to withhold their labor, gives them a power far mightier than the sum of their parts. So long as they stay unified, and have the support of parents in their community and others across the nation, they will prevail.

And in other news, if you’re in line somewhere to get the new iphone (or even if you’ve never had one) this article describing how Apple invented it is fun to read and fascinating:

Put it all together and you get remarkable story about a device that, under the normal rules of business, should not have been invented. Given the popularity of the iPod and its centrality to Apple’s bottom line, Apple should have been the last company on the planet to try to build something whose explicit purpose was to kill music players. Yet Apple’s inner circle knew that one day, a phone maker would solve the interface problem, creating a universal device that could make calls, play music and videos, and do everything else, too—a device that would eat the iPod’s lunch. Apple’s only chance at staving off that future was to invent the iPod killer itself. More than this simple business calculation, though, Apple’s brass saw the phone as an opportunity for real innovation.

Finally, just in case you’ve managed to stay focused on your teaching through all of the strike and GradesFirst and copy code and new ids and assorted hub-bub, there’s been some good stuff over at Truman’s Center for Teaching and Learning, for example this suggestion on how to get students doing their reading. I do some similar kinds of things and have found them to be very helpful for the class of the day and the course as a whole. Good stuff.

Updates over the weekend or next week on Faculty Council news from our meeting on Tuesday, GradesFirst language and updates, Reinvention stuff, and more.

In the meantime, remember that your Day 10 list is DUE TODAY and you (and your students) need to have your new ID by Wednesday or you’ll be standing in line waiting for a pass to get in…Have a great weekend. Mine is off to a spectacular start!