Time for a Pause

By | November 27, 2017

Education as Conversation

Regular readers have no doubt noticed a drop-off in the frequency of my posts. There are lots of reasons for this, including my present focus on finding a publisher for my next novel, the sequel to One Man’s Purpose. Entitled Cross Purposes, it joins Martin Quint and his wife Jenny a year after they moved to a less-stressful life at Bottlesworth College, only to find their lives disrupted again and again.

I am also engaged in writing a one-act play based on the razor-thin tenure case at the heart of One Man’s Purpose. Entitled Anatomy of a Tenure Case, it will be used as a case study for workshops on gender and diversity in academia.

Finally, stirring in the back of my head are the materials that will (in due course) become the third novel in the Martin Quint Trilogy.

With all this going on, I have decided to pause my blog posts for now, but I took some time to organize them by topic, in sequences that can be more readily accessed than in the Archive. Just click on Blog Topics to see the various topics and listings of posts.

And in spite of my intention to stand down for a while, I continue to find articles in the news that deserve both attention and comment:

New York Times, November 22, “Laptops are Great. But Not During a Lecture.” Susan Dynarski, a Professor of Education, Public Policy and Economics at the University of Michigan, discusses improvements in students’ performances when they must take class notes with pen and paper instead of on a laptop, echoing my sentiment that the taking of notes is a good way to really engage the cognitive system when attending a large lecture.

New York Times, November 25, “How to Get Your Mind to Read.” Daniel Willingham, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, suggests that Americans are poor readers because they lack enough factual knowledge to interpret what they read. He argues for broad education even at the earliest grades, with exposure to facts about the world and living in it. Students who have this kind of education score better or reading tests than peers who have focused just on reading technique. Reading isn’t just sounding out the words. It requires general comprehension. My take on this article is that the kind of education Willingham argues for is the best societal defense we have against fake news and “alternate facts.”

Boston Globe, Editorial, November 27. “Online learning can ease economic inequality.” Citing a recent conference at MIT, the Globe endorses the idea that online education can be an effective way to surmount access barriers to higher education for low-income students. I certainly agree. Having online access is better than no access. The risk, and one on which I have commented often, is to get seduced into thinking that online education is an equal substitute for the rigors and benefits of face-to-face instruction. No need for me to bang that particular drum here. Online education does have merits, and its advocates should focus on getting those merits translated into educational outcomes, as broadly as possible.

Your comments and communications are always welcome.

2 thoughts on “Time for a Pause

  1. Jamie Wiczer

    I’ve enjoyed your Blog posts – always thought provoking; so they will be missed. But, I understand that reality is always a balance between ideals and practical matters – like finding a publisher. So, I (and others I’m sure) will continue to enjoy your Blog posts in the future when your schedule permits.

  2. Rhoada Wald

    I have not responded to all your emails but I read them all. In everyone there was always something that sparked my interest and new learning. Thank you so much for taking the time and energy to send these emails. They are work, satisfying work I know, but work.
    I wish you luck with your books. I was not as patience and dedicated as you. Selling is difficult, particularly when you are a first time fiction writer. I wish you luck with all your new endeavors. It is hard work to go from one field to another, but it is also fun, challenging and sometimes even surprising. Best of luck, Rhoada Wald


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