Friday Recommended Reads #3


The New York Times published a feature on various leaders in government, science and education and their ideas for improving science education in the USA. When I read this, all I thought was BLAH BLAH BLAH. And then I got terrified because all of the important decision makers were clueless about what really is happening in public K-12 classrooms across the country. These folks aren’t wrong about good science education, but they’re fooling themselves that if they could implement their ideas, that this would result in change. They all made me sigh with disappointment because of the inability to see the forest. The only great and important ideas came from the kids. That was uplifting. But, they’re not the ones making the decisions. Yet.

A crowdsourced list of teaching faculty pet peeves. Mine was #2, but they’re all spot-on. (To strive for excellence as a teacher, please don’t get peevish about these peeves.)

A not-too-long article, The Death of an Adjunct, is important reading. The invention of the adjunct caste in higher education is unconscionable.

John Green made a video that explains how, and somewhat why, healthcare costs in the United States are so much higher than elsewhere. More importantly, he clearly demonstrated that any discussion about as issue as complex as this one requires reflection, knowledge, curiosity and an ability to see beyond overly simplistic concepts.

On a related note, Brian McGill wrote something this week that probably has changed some opinions about publishing ethics and open access. This detailed and carefully reasoned piece over in Dynamic Ecology is a breath of fresh air in its view from 30,000 feet. I wouldn’t want to argue about open access publishing at all with anybody, but if I had to, then I’d make sure that all participants in the argument were very familiar with this piece.

If you appreciate the history and geography of our species and the environments that we create, then I recommend checking out Atlas Obscura.

Here’s a quick piece of advice for humanities faculty, and I guess anybody whose discipline is focused on scholarship in books rather than journals. Write your second book fast. Just do it, or you might never. A parallel prescription for new science faculty is to be sure to start and publish on a new line of research after completing the dissertation. Don’t get stuck in a rut. Be sure to develop (and show) the ability to do and complete research on more than one thing, which will help serve you for a long time in your career.

Just in case you’re curious, the non-science I’m reading this week: Finished Ian McEwan’s latest, and deep into the collected Bone for the first time.

Feel free to add in the comments any other great reads you came upon this week that you’d like to share.

3 thoughts on “Friday Recommended Reads #3

  1. I’ve been reading Junot Diaz’ books (Drown; The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, need to get the new one). And besides being incredibly readable and thought-provoking, a surprise benefit is may be, getting a bit of insight into the lives, thoughts, backgrounds of students like mine- New Jersey college-agers with less-than-privileged upbringings (in this case Dominican immigrant kids). Not sure if there are equivalents for other regions of the country, but literature is a big neighborhood, there’s gotta be something good out there that can serve the same purpose elsewhere.

  2. On the Pet Peeves list, I think there’s a version of #3 that is justifiable – when the prof is actually keeping students past when class is supposed to end. I have had profs who never do this, and I have had profs who do it consistently. In the latter case, I have gotten up and left when class is supposed to end. I wouldn’t do it if the prof is just trying to wrap up a point and running half a minute over – I’m talking about profs who will drone on for an extra five minutes (in some cases, doing this during the majority of their class sessions, with the students from the next class to have the room sitting out in the hall waiting for us to clear out).

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