New Universities

2nd August 2018

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Books of the Week

This week we read two contrasting books on universities, with somewhat disappointing results.

  • Designing the New American University, by Michael Crow and William Dabars.  Michael Crow is one of the world’s most visionary university presidents—U.S. News and World Report has called Arizona State University, which Crow helms, the #1 university for innovation in the country. (We admit, we’re Michael Crow fans.) So this is a worthwhile book to read if only to get a handle on Crow’s admirable vision of innovation and access. Sadly, the main points of the book are buried beneath clunky prose. We think it’s time for a updated, revised, and streamlined edition.
  • The University We Need: Reforming American Higher Education, by Warren Treadgold. This book has drawn attention from the Wall Street Journal, the National Review, and Inside Higher Education.  Frankly, although it was sometimes interesting to learn of Treadgold’s perspectives, which are very different from that of typical humanities professors, we struggled with his book. Treadgold’s background is in Byzantine studies, which often meant that his sweeping statements about how universities can and should operate were often completely unworkable for the STEM disciplines—we’re surprised Treadgold didn’t have at least one beta reader friend from the STEM disciplines to clue him in on this.  Suggestions such as the creation of a national National Academic Honesty Board overlook the fact that state boards designed to ferret out cheating in state schools never actually seem to do so. (See the discussion in the far better book Freakonomics for why this occurs.)  Treadgold’s cherry-picking to point out poor consequences of online learning overlooked excellent results.  And so on and so forth. We’re puzzled about the hullabaloo surrounding this book.

Barb in a Free Webinar from IEEE, August 7th

Barb will be in a free webinar sponsored by IEEE–you can sign up here to watch from anywhere in the world.  She’ll begin her talk with ideas that may be familiar to you. But you’ll see some fantastic new graphics that will take you deeper into the brain, and into learning.  Register here.

And if you are in the Bay Area…

Helping You—and the Children in Your Life—Learn STEM Subjects More Effectively

Barb is speaking at a free event in San Jose, California, sponsored by the Silicon Valley IEEE Computer Society August 7, 2018, 6:30-8:30PM. (If you’re a tech type, you might be surprised to learn that Barb herself is an IEEE Fellow.)  If you’d like to meet Barb and help your children learn more effectively, especially in the STEM disciplines, come for a fun and fabulous evening! Barb will be around before and after her presentation, and will very much enjoy meeting you. (If your children are mature enough to be well-behaved in a crowd, bring them, too!) Learn more and register here—the talk is free, but seating is limited to 200 and pre-registrants are let in first.

Trigger Warnings Might Actually Be Harmful for College Students

Here is an excellent discussion by social psychologist Craig Harper in Medium of recent findings related to the harmful effects of trigger warnings.  Key grafs are:

“After controlling for various factors… the researchers found that those participants who received trigger warnings were significantly more likely (compared to those in the control condition) to suggest that they and others would be more vulnerable to emotional distress after experiencing trauma.

“…[T]hose who believed that words can cause harm demonstrated a significantly higher level of immediate anxiety to markedly distressing passages (compared to those not holding this belief) in the trigger warning condition, but not in the control.

“This finding could have significant implications in the context of ongoing cultural debates about the power of language in reinforcing perceived oppression. That is, if we are telling students that words are akin to violence and can cause harm, and then giving them trigger warnings to compound that message, we risk increasing immediate anxiety responses rather than decreasing them.”

10 Must-Watch TED Talks for Lifelong Learners
Learning How to Learner Marelisa Fábrega wrote a very popular blog post on “10 Must-Watch TED Talks for Lifelong Learners.” Marelisa didn’t include Barb’s TED talk on learning on the list, because she’d already referred to our MOOC Learning How to Learn in another post. Enjoy Marelisa’s work!

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team


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