Alchemical Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘education

CuriousGeorgeReading

Another week, and another bunch of books I would like to read someday. As the saying goes, so little times, so many books.

Items about books I want to read:

  • I continue adding to my interest to learning more about bourbon with Bourbon: a History of the American Spirit. The book was reviewed in San Francisco Book Review.
  • Given the current political climate in the United States, this book sounds like a necessary read. The book is Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You The Right To Tell Other People What To Do. The book was reviewed in San Francisco Book Review.
  • Let’s add in some more history. I often like reading about periods or events in history that may not be widely known. Astoria, about how Thomas Jefferson and John Jacob Astor attempted to create a western trading empire, sounds interesting. It was featured in San Francisco Book Review.
  • As I have written before, I am always interested in books about books and the book trade. So I am adding The Art of the Publisher to the list. It was discussed in The Christian Science Monitor.
  • Here is a little something to help diversify my reading for one. Plus I think some of my feminist friends may be interested in this one as well. The book is My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem, and it was reviewed in Mother Jones magazine.
  • I remember living through the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The event is often portrayed as this big “American victory,” but as often is the case in history, things are not as simple as that (nor is that vision really true). You can learn more about the reality of what happened in The Last Empire, which was reviewed in San Francisco Book Review.
  • Here is something on higher education in the United States and China. In this article from Inside Higher Ed, “In Palace of Ashes: China and the Decline of American Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press), Mark S. Ferrara contrasts the ‘downward trajectory’ of American higher education against the rise of China’s university system.”
  • Via Drinkhacker, a review of a book on tiki drinks, you know, those nice tropical drinks that evoke some island paradise when done well. The book is Tiki Drinks: Tropical Cocktails for the Modern Bar.
  • Here is another one via Drinkhacker, this time on beer. The book is Beer for all Seasons.
  • I do like vintage things, and yes, I do like adult films and entertainment, so naturally I like vintage and older porn and adult entertainment. Thus a book like Graphic Thrills Volume 2 (apparently there is a volume one too) on adult film vintage posters is of interest. You can find the review in The Rialto Report.

 

Lists and bibliographies:

  • An older item, but still of interest: the first translations of a set of Zapatista children’s textbooks is available as a free download. Story via Global Voices.
  • There is a graphic novel adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Catch is Boom Studios! for some reason thought putting it out in 6 volumes instead of one large volume was a good idea.We’ll see if I can find a set. Story via Wink Books.
  • I will admit that I have not watched the Netflix show “Narcos.” To be honest, I could not care less about Netflix, but that is another story. Anyhow, I do have an interest in the topic of narcos in Latin America overall, so this list of books for folks waiting for the next season of the show interested me anyhow. From the list, I have read Gabriel García Márquez’s News of a Kidnapping, which I do recommend.
  • Via the blog RA for all: Horror, here is a list of small presses in the genre, which I am saving to look over later.
  • Here is more on movie posters. Via Wink Books blog, two books on James Bond movie posters.
  • Via The Booklist Reader, a list of books on creativity.

We continue with this semi-regular (as in when I get around to putting a post together) series of things I would like to read someday. As the old saying goes, so many books and so little time. But I will strive on to read as much as I can. I also find that looking over these reviews often allows me to comment a bit on some of the issues the reviews bring up, so these posts serve me as a small reflective exercise as well. Anyhow, here we go for this week.

Items about books I want to read:

  • IDW has started compiling the Popeye comic strip from the 1940s and 1950s (story via Boing Boing). I will admit that I am not really a Popeye fan. In fact, my mother hated the comic, seeing it as too profane and violent, and I never saw that much appeal in it when compared to other comics of its time. But I would not mind taking a look at this compilation. For me, this would likely be a book to borrow rather than buy. The book is Popeye Classics, Vol. 1. It does look like a good library item, so I may order it to add it to our comics and graphic novels collection after I’ve had a chance to look it over.
  • Also via Boing Boing, a mention of a new science fiction anthology edited by David Hartwell. I’ve always found his anthologies to be good products overall, so I will probably take a look at this one. The Better Half loves science fiction short story collections, so I know she would definitely be interested in this. The book is Twenty-First Century Science Fiction, and it is supposed to deal with writers and works “who came to prominence since the turn of the century.”
  • Via the Chronicle Books blog, they are promoting a book of theirs on the art of making books out of books. You know, taking old books no longer useful and recycling them to make art. The book is Art Made from Books.
  • Via AlterNet, excerpts of a new book on American poverty and inequality. I honestly wonder about books like these given that the people who probably should be reading them never will, but in my case, I have to keep up as well as I care about the issue. The book is The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives. I think the title is very appropriate. The U.S. does have a uniquely cruel and vicious way of poverty, and those better off sneering at the poor has pretty much become a national pastime.
  • Diane Ravitch has yet another book out on American education. Common Dreams has an excerpt of it. An educator myself, I try to keep up with the field, but Ravitch just does not strike me as all that, as they say. She was basically a pretty passionate supporter and architect of No Child Left Behind who apparently has “seen the light” and the “error of her ways” and now preaches against it and related ills. I don’t usually trust converts very much, and given how much damage NCLB has done and continues to do, as a former teacher and now librarian, I am skeptical. Plus, I did not particularly like her previous door stopper, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, which I did read (here is my review of that book). Odds are good I may order the new book for our library’s education collection, which means I may at least glance at it, but I am keeping my expectations low.  Anyhow, the book is Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, and a reign of error and terror it has been. I do find it a big amazing, though not surprising, she is all of a sudden hailed as some heroic “whistleblower” (a label used by The Wall Street Journal) given her role in causing the mess in the first place. It’s kind of like the Republicans protesting the government shutdown they caused. In the end, I don’t know how much penance the woman should do for the damage things like NCLB have done. On a side note, this article from The Atlantic discussing the two sides of Professor Ravitch explains some of how I feel about her.
  • Now on to a woman who certainly deserves accolades and a label of hero. Peter Bagge has written a graphic novel biography of Margaret Sanger. The book is Woman Rebel: the Margaret Sanger Story. You can find it reviewed in The Stranger blog.
  • And speaking of sexual education, there is a graphic novel for that. Via Bitch Magazine, a review of a new sex ed comic book. The book Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf.
  • Via The Advocate, excerpt of Julia Serrano’s book Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive. This may be one I have to order for the library, but I may give it a look myself. One of the arguments of the book is that gender is more than performance, going against what is often conventional wisdom, not to mention argument hammered in gender studies courses (of which I have taken one or two, but I will try not to be snooty about it as Ms. Serrano says some folks do).
  • Also via The Advocate, they highlight Crawford Barton’s 1976 book Beautiful Men, which looks at the gay men in San Francisco in what is considered a gay golden age. Why is this book of interest. According to the article, among other things, “Barton documented some of the first Pride parades, photographed Harvey Milk campaigning, and he captured gay city life as no other photographer had done before.” I do like reading photography books, and when they are historical photos even more so, thus I will have to look this up.
  • Via AlterNet, excerpt of the book Perv: the Sexual Deviant in All of Us. C’mon folks, admit it: we all have a little pervert lurking inside. I know I do, and I am perfectly fine with that. OK, you got me; it may be more than just a little in my case.
  • On a different track, via The Well-Appointed Desk, a highlight of the book A Collection a Day. This sounds like a nice, adorable little book.
  • Via Bookgasm, a short review of Guy Delisle’s book Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City. I enjoyed the opening sentence of the review because it does convey so much truth: “Because of his wife’s work with Doctors Without Borders, illustrator Guy Delisle has been essentially leading readers on a tour of Countries Where People Are Dicks to Each Other.” Yes, there are a lot of countries where people are dicks to each other. On that basis, Delisle should do a graphic novel about the United States where being dicks to each other is a national pastime. For the record, I did read Delisle’s book on North Korea, Pyongyang: a Journey in North Korea (here is my brief review of it).
  • I am not a huge romance reader (I read one here or there to keep the readers’ advisory cred), but the premise of this one, a reporter and a genetically modified soldier who turn out to be genetic matches, sounded intriguing enough to get my attention. The book is Heated Match by Lynne Silver, and it was briefly highlighted and excerpted at Bending the Bookshelf.

Lists and bibliographies:

I had a series of posts on my professional blog on my experiences during the Civil Rights Tour that Berea College, where I work now, organized during the summer of 2013. I wanted to put the links here in one place as another way to share those posts with readers. Feel free to click, read, and check them out. Comments are welcome here or there.

At the end of the day, I know a few people on campus read and/or saw the posts. As I noted in one of my posts, we did keep a group journal as well where each member of the group took a turn to write reflections on the experience. The journal notebook is now kept in the library of the Carter G. Woodson Center. I think it can be viewed upon request if you visit (for viewing in their reading room only). However, I am not aware (as of this writing) that any other member of the tour group kept any form of notes, online journal, or blog about the experience. On a side note, we did have a journalist from the town newspaper take the journey with us, and she had said she was writing for a possible article in the local weekly paper, The Berea Citizen. However, after scanning back issues (the paper is not available online), I have not seen any write up (as of this blog post) from the journalist, so I am guessing the editors did not run it given we are in October 2013 by now.

These are my notes from a Teaching and Learning Lunch I attended last October. I jotted these down in my journal, and I am putting them here so I have another place where I can find the notes.

  • So, what is it? It turns lectures into homework. Do your lectures ahead of time, and students can watch them before they come into class. You can then spend the class time on interactive activities.
  • The class dynamic goes from passive to active.
  • This is based on “blended learning.” It is not just “online learning.” The technology supports the classroom.
  • No “one size fits all” when it comes to using technology.
  • You don’t have to be tech savvy, but you may become savvy as you use more things.
  • Avoid being overwhelmed. Start with small steps. Pick and choose, see what works, adapt.
  • To flip your classroom, you don’t have to create all videos or tutorials. You can often find good resources online, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Explore various screencast options. Some are online and free.
  • Check the site of the Flipped Learning Network: flippedclassroom.org . Check out their book Flip Your Classroom.

Remember, you transform your classroom as a teacher. No technology will do it for you. The technology supports the classroom culture.

 

I thought this was a pretty neat list. I don’t agree with all of it, but there are some very good items. The two items I would emphasize right away are:

The first one on statistical literacy. This is a must. We need as a society to do a much better job in teaching people about statistics, how to figure basic ones out, and how they are used and misused. I liked the suggested assignment of comparing a liberal blog versus a conservative blog. This assignment is very good, and it should be something an average, well-informed citizen, “well-informed” being the key concept, should be able to do:

Daily Kos Versus BigGovernment.com
Find three examples of the same set of numbers presented in entirely different ways on the liberal blog Daily Kos and Andrew Breitbart’s conservative Big Government site. In each case, show which source is using the more aggressive spin and determine which side—if either—is being more honest in its presentation of the facts.

How often are you watching the news, and you get pundits debating back and forth about the latest numbers of such and such from the CBO (that’s the Congressional Budget Office). You think to yourself, “well, the CBO is nonpartisan, so the numbers must be good.” Sure, the numbers are probably fine, but you have to pay attention to how they are actually being used. And then you have figures and polls from all sorts of agencies, think tanks, nonprofit organizations, so on, which often have a bias or a particular agenda. I am not saying that some of those agendas are bad (personally, I think working towards things like social justice are important), but you still have to keep those things in mind. Expanding on that, this is where I would add a good course on information literacy, where you learn to evaluate information, more than just the statistics. So, if it was me, I would do more than just statistical literacy. We need broad ranging information literacy.

Second, I definitely like the Post-state Diplomacy course. Folks in the U.S. need some serious education on international affairs and how the world works right now. The folks at Wired write:

“Power has always depended on who can provide justice, commerce, and stability. Successful insurgents aren’t just thugs; they offer their members tangible benefits—community, money, education, and a sense of order (even if the rebels are the ones creating disorder in the first place). We must learn how they gain loyalty, even if our goal is to undercut it.”

Again, I don’t think the folks at Wired go far enough. It is not only about diplomacy, although that is extremely important. The statement above is not really a new idea; it is an idea that not many people understand or may be aware of. But we also need coursework on global awareness and citizenship, and I would also add geography.

The rest of the article is worth reading as well. Each skill description does include a “reading list” (I put it in quotes because some of the suggestions may be links to videos or other non-print material) and some questions you may want to consider. Whether you do some of the assignments or not, thinking about them may help you expand your horizons a bit more.

(Crossposted to The Itinerant Librarian)

As a former school teacher, and now education subject specialist for my library, I maintain an interest in things for and about teachers. The site Good had a couple of things of interest that I want to jot down for reference. I may share some of these later with some people locally.

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