03 September 2013

Items to Share: 1 September

Education Focus
  • How to Teach | Webs of Substance "In this hubristic post, I shall imagine that you are a new teacher who is about to embark upon a teaching career in a secondary school and that I am an experienced teacher who knows what he’s on about..." 
  • Academy Fight Song | Thomas Frank | The Baffler "The truth is that rip-offs like this abound in academia—that virtually every aspect of the higher-ed dream has been colonized by monopolies, cartels, and other unrestrained predators—that the charmingly naive American student is in fact a cash cow, and everyone has got a scheme for slicing off a porterhouse or two." 
  • Everyday strategies – in praise of obliqueness | patter The direct approach is not always best; Pat Thomson discusses the oblique approach to change management. Regardless of the specific methods she looks at, I'm well aware that some things just cannot be taught directly, but it is very difficult to write about how to create indirect conditions to help people to learn indirectly. In more general terms, there's a good discussion in John Kay's Obliquity: why our goals are best achieved indirectly (London; Profile Books, 2011).
  • How to read and understand a scientific paper: a guide for non-scientists | Violent metaphors "But to form a truly educated opinion on a scientific subject, you need to become familiar with current research in that field. And to do that, you have to read the “primary research literature” (often just called “the literature”). You might have tried to read scientific papers before and been frustrated by the dense, stilted writing and the unfamiliar jargon. [...] Reading and understanding research papers is a skill which every single doctor and scientist has had to learn during graduate school. You can learn it too, but like any skill it takes patience and practice." A useful introduction--if rather dogmatic for my discipline(s).
Other Business 
  • 16 useless infographics | News | theguardian.com "If it's an image that displays and explains information quickly and clearly, it's an infographic. But we've collected some that are head-craning, eye-squinting, eyebrow-raising nightmares that leave you more confused than before you clicked 'next'.
  • Sinister Minds: Are Left-Handed People Smarter? : The New Yorker "Lombroso [...] might not have been so far off the mark when he hypothesized that by looking at someone’s hands, we could learn something about the inner workings of their minds—though those workings have more to do with cognitive achievement than any inclination to commit highway robbery. Michelangelo and da Vinci were left-handed, after all. 
And a book recommendation 

  • OK, this is a little different. Clive Travis and I have been regulars at the same pub for years. He is living with and overcoming paranoid schizophrenia. He is a highly intelligent and articulate observer of his own condition and his experiences at the hands of social and medical service--he now contributes regularly as an "expert patient" to training programmes for Approved Mental Health Professionals to perform statutory duties under the Mental Health Act (to which he has himself been subject in the past) and is a member of the Governing Body of our local Mental Health Trust. He's now written about his experiences very perceptively: the book originally came out a few years ago, but he is re-launching it now. If you are in any way affected by, or just interested in, these serious issues, do read it. And argue with it--no two people's experience of illness or of lay or professional response are the same...

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