Note to readers

This is a blog that I'm required to keep that's full of unedited, near stream-of-consciousness reactions to similarly required and related readings in a graduate course in N.C. State University's Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media program. The way these posts are written help me interrogate and understand what's going on in our readings. I'm identifying what's troublesome so that I can give it more thought, but the posts aren't written in a style that's productive for audiences outside of our class to read. That's by design. I start with contestation, then spend heavens only knows how long researching, recutting, and reevaluating so that I can try and see what potentially productive readings I can extract from these source for use in my own work's contributions back to the field. Comments encouraged, but please, you'll likely need a thick skin if your work is quoted here.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Senior Lecturer vs TA With a Clicker? Who Wins the Teaching Award? | HASTAC

Senior Lecturer vs TA With a Clicker? Who Wins the Teaching Award? | HASTAC:

... but, in general, the hierarchical form of the lecture relieves the hearer of having to do much more than be entertained...

If a student takes such an approach, then they're not ready to learn. Notes from class better be more than how many stars today's lecture received. Lecture is inherently interactive for the engaged student. Worse, those lecturers who are seduced by the explanation that entertainment is the primary goal of lecturing don't deserve the title.

When will we again learn the motivation of letting people fail? When did university professors take the onus of their students' success -- all of their students -- from those students themselves? And how precisely do we measure who "learned a lot more"? Does it necessarily spill over into long-term retention? Is it really a college professor's responsibility to get "real-time graphic feedback on what the students were learning and what they weren't getting"? What's really important isn't what can be solved in 5-15 of directed teaching. It's the questions that, after spending the 3:1 hours outside of class, students still can't shake. Lecture's not about the now, it's about the long term. Get the minds started, expose them to your fundamentals, and let them learn to model that investigation when they return to their dorms, the library, and coffee houses.

Inspired by lecture? Speak up. Join the academic conversation. Start modeling the role of an expert. But if you don't understand something? Study like hell and then ask. Find office hours and show up. Have to be entertained to learn? Watch Blues Clues. Want to have the opportunity to interact with the brightest minds, both your instructor and your peers? Apply to college.

Most importantly, understand that teaching qua teaching happens outside of the classroom, tailored not to the aggregate feedback of 30 students answering multiple choice from the last 10 minutes, but to the personally expressed feedback from one well-prepared, self-motivated mind who has given the content hours of dedicated consideration. Distant and cursory readings of 30 students will never take the place of paying attention to each one as an individual.

Honestly, the amount of the students' homework college lecturers are doing for them at this point is absolutely insane. Where are the brightest minds in the field supposed to go if they don't want to play Simon with their students?

If you're not self-motivated in college, languish on the vine. We need to [re]start recognizing those who intrinsically care about the content, about learning, and about scholars who create scholarship. Set your bar higher, folk, and reward the students who follow.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Iain Banks & Simon Morden on science fiction | Orbit Books | Science Fiction, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

Iain Banks & Simon Morden on science fiction | Orbit Books | Science Fiction, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy:

Too many very intelligent and otherwise well-educated people seem to have a sort of disdain for technology and – by association – for any literature that deals with it. This may be born of a sort of subtly inculcated fear, or perhaps just intellectually inherited snobbery; hard to be sure. Anyway, I think that attitude is at least unfortunate and arguably – for our whole shared culture – both damaging and dangerous.