What I’m Reading….

Actually, reading and playing and listening to.

  • Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow.  There’s a lot of buzz around cognitive biases; much of our understanding is based on Kahneman’s work (for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize.)  I figure, if you can recognize your own biases, you can guard against them.  Not only did I find the science fascinating, but the personal narrative is charming as well.
  • Kentucky Route Zero.  A beautiful computer game — reflective and contemplative.  Ten hours or so.  Not even a puzzle game or a platformer; purely interactive fiction.
  • The Ender’s Game quartet by Orson Scott Card.  The thing is, if your entire experience with the books is Ender’s Game (or worse, the movie!), you’re missing most of the beauty of the series.  Speaker for the Dead was the book that OSC sat down to write; he needed Ender’s Game to introduce the characters, and Xenocide and Children of the Mind to tie up the loose ends.  The books are deep explorations of moral dilemmas, with characters for whom you develop deep feelings.  Or maybe that’s just me and I’m being squishy.
  • Whistling Vivaldi by Claude M. Steele. I am passionate about teaching and doing science inclusively (am I allowed to say that?) because I am convinced it leads not only to better learning outcomes but also better science. I want to do so better — and that starts by understanding the challenges my students are up against.  About half-way through it (Jan 2017); we’ve established the problem, and I’m looking forward to proposed (and science-validated!) solutions.
  • Small Teaching by Jim Lang.  After attending a talk by Professor Lang on the MIT campus a few months ago, he has become one of my new heros.  Small Teaching is a perfect blend of accessible, well-researched and practical strategies for “small” things you can do to improve student outcomes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for flipped classrooms and project-based learning — but transforming “traditional” classes to these formats is risky and takes time.  The strategies Professor Lang outlines in his book are entirely orthogonal to those — can be used in any teaching situation you find yourself in.  I’ve already started applying them in SEED.

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