No Easy Answers

22nd March 2019

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Books of the Week

In keeping with the Quillette article below, we did some background reading this week into dysfunctional people and school environments. School environments (and people!) in many parts of the US are admirable, but even supposedly well-to-do environments can have problems if administrators turn a blind eye to bullying. The seeds for bullying are fertilized when any group is privileged above others.

  • A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy. by Sue Klebold, the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the two Columbine High School mass murderers.  We weren’t sure what to expect when we picked this book up, but we sure weren’t expecting this sensitively-written, insightful book the ways that even the best of parenting can unintentionally go deeply astray, if only in missing subtle warning signs. An eye-opener was Sue’s admission that if she could go back and do it over, she’d not hesitate to have intruded and read her son’s diaries.  Sue understandably doesn’t want to place blame on anyone or anything else, but clearly, a poisonous atmosphere that tolerated and even encouraged bullying was an important factor in the horrific events that took place. All author profits from the book are donated to research and to charitable organizations focusing on mental health issues.
  • No Easy Answers: The Truth Behind Death at Columbine High School, by Brooks Brown and Rob Merritt. Brooks Brown was one of Dylan Klebold’s closest friends since elementary school, and he was alternately a friend and enemy of Eric Harris, the other Columbine High School killer. Like Klebold and Harris, Brown was an alienated teen who saw the dark side of the bullying and factionalism at Columbine. Brown’s efforts to alert police prior to the massacre resulted in the local police to do everything they could to smear Brown’s reputation, the better to hide their own malfeasance. A shocking look at how administrators at Columbine, through their one-sided “justice,” encouraged Columbine’s poisonous atmosphere. A quick read and an eye-opening book about how laissez-faire policies underpin sadly simmering rage.

Public Education’s Dirty Secret

This “must-read” essay in Quillette by Mary Hudson makes explicit the disastrous effects of poor administrative and educational policy. The article begins: “Bad teaching is a common explanation given for the disastrously inadequate public education received by America’s most vulnerable populations. This is a myth. Aside from a few lemons who were notable for their rarity, the majority of teachers I worked with for nine years in New York City’s public school system were dedicated, talented professionals. Before joining the system I was mystified by the schools’ abysmal results. I too assumed there must be something wrong with the teaching. This could not have been farther from the truth.”

In this case, it is clear that those making laws have little idea of the power of negative emotional contagion, as is the case when problematic students are allowed to not only disrupt teaching, but to continuously force their own negative attitudes on students around them. Read the whole thing.

A Great “Tiny Tip” to Help You Achieve Your Goals

As you’ve probably noticed, we’re major fans of the videos of 4-Time US Memory Champion Nelson Dellis. Here’s another great two-minute video by Nelson—this one will help ensure you’re on track with your goals.  (Oh yes, and Nelson’s infant son is one of the most adorable video props evuh.)

Barb’s Conversation with The Medical Mnemonist Chase DiMarco, (An InsideTheBoards Podcast)

Medical students have some of the most prodigious tasks in all of the learning world. Their day-to-day learning is like trying to drink water from a firehose. Although Chase DiMarco aims his podcast towards those in medical school, the reality is that most learners can benefit from the kinds of insights Chase’s podcast provides.  Enjoy this episode here.

How Many Public Universities Can ‘Go Big’ Online?

This Inside Higher Ed article describes the many public university systems and state flagships that are planning ambitious online endeavors. Paul LeBlanc, president of prominent online institution Southern New Hampshire, notes: “Take a look at who has been able to successfully scale online,” he says, citing his own institution (where the online operation was purposefully fenced off from the rest of a then-struggling university)…”There is no example where the integrated model has worked for getting any kind of scale. If you have to integrate, you will consume and kill the new thing.”

Think TanksHow Do You Figure Out Who Is Credible?

This excellent, dispassionate article by Andrea Baertl Helguero in Medium gives a fine overview of how to figure out the credibility of a given think tank. [Hat tip: Enrique Planells Artigot]

How many colleges and universities have closed since 2016?

This informative article runs through the list of the many closures, acquisitions, and consolidations of higher education institutions since 2016, separated out by categories such as for profits, small liberal arts colleges, and major public colleges. The small listing of expansions at the end of the article gives hints about where higher education may be heading, although they missed many of the new MOOC-based programs noted here.

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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