Showing posts from February, 2011

what we don't know

Teaching What You Don't Know by Therese Huston Among the things I haven't had time to do lately, I haven't had time to go to the annual U of I Faculty Retreat, the big one that brings people across campus together.  But I have been paging through this book by one of the keynote speakers. Huston argues that there are real structural aspects of how teaching is organized that lead to people teaching subjects they "don't know."  But the bar for "know" is ridiculously high for most academics, which is again an artifact of the extreme narrowness of dissertations and Ph.D. specialization in general.  In fact, most people teach things they are qualified to teach about (specialists in genetics can and should teach, for instance, biology), and her examples make this clear though the language around them is sometimes more dire, most likely reflecting the anxieties of her interviewees. And the world changes.  We can't graduate knowing it all.  When I too

funny times

In honor of Terry Pratchett's Blue Ribbons Win for the last of the Tiffany Aching books (which I look forward to reading straight through): "Some humans would do anything to see if it was possible to do it.  If you put a large switch in some cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying "End-of-the-World Switch.  PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH," the paint wouldn't even have time to dry." --Terry Pratchett quoted in the March 2011 Funny Times

storytelling, in both cases

Two storytelling titles for various purposes.... Storytelling for Grantseekers by Cheryl A. Clarke More than anything, this is an accurate and accessible book-length metaphor for what a grant can be:  a gripping story of a need and a solution with a promise of another chapter to come.  The chapter titles alone give a sense of how this metaphor works.  A few examples are:  "The Proposal Narrative:  Introducing the Characters and the Place," "The Need or Problem:  Building Tension and Conflict into Your Story," and "The Budget:  Translating Your Story from Words to Numbers."  This last chapter, chapter 8, is now in my email in .pdf form (thanks Alaine!) for future use in 506.  The whole book might work, but I notice that the most frequent student mistake is to botch or, in rare cases, leave off the budget for their "facilitating change" projects.  A whole reading on the how-to of the topic can't hurt. On the Origin of Stories:  Evolution,

roses, food, and imperfection

 Lots of reading, but very little blogging, so this is a catch-up posting.  I suppose the guest lecture and keynote speech and the two classes I'm teaching and the writing do tend to get in the way.  Today I gave a keynote speech for a little regional conference of teachers interested in history.  It was my first time giving an hour plus talk with questions, and interestingly I found it really is about the amount that fits into any one of my 40-page-double-spaced history papers.  I did talk for about an hour about "Creating a History of Children as Readers," but then left time for 30 min or so of questions, and I think it went well, though the evaluations that they'll send me will be useful.  It was a pleasure to talk to such a great audience of intelligent history teachers with good questions.  In the meantime, I have been reading: Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley This retelling of Beauty and the Beast came to my attention years ago, when Betsy talked about i