The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine

6th February 2020

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Week

The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine, by Serhii Plokhy. It’s all too easy, in reading books on history, to focus on the areas of the world that currently have large populations. Russia, for example, overshadows Ukraine by more than a factor of three, population-wise (145 versus 42 million), meaning Russia gets the vast majority of coverage in books and press. But this kind of “large pop” reading can give a misleading sense of the conflicting interests of the groups involved, and can give short shrift to important current issues and past events. For example, the Cossacks were an important group through much of Russian history, but with the brief descriptions of many excellent Russian-centered history books (for example, Peter the Great, Barb’s favorite biography), it’s still hard to piece together who the Cossacks were, and what they stood for.  The Gates of Europe explains Cossacks, and far more, so that the reader can truly understand the important historical linkages between Greece, Byzantium, Europe, and Asia.  With Ukraine topping headlines today, it can be helpful to get a good overview of this country’s fascinating history, and to understand its past and present relationship with central European countries as well as Russia.  Plokhy has written an extraordinary book—highly recommended. 

Barb in Philadelphia Speaking for IKEA 

Barb will be at IKEA in Philadelphia on March 24th keynoting at their global co-worker engagement event “Talent Focus Week.” This year’s theme is “Think beyond. Live to learn. Stay curious.” IKEA is yet another great company focusing on the value of learning. 

A Comprehensive Review of Spaced Repetition—And a Pointer Toward Our Favorite Flashcard App

If you are looking for an in-depth review of spaced repetition, you could hardly do better than Gwern Branwen’s lengthy post on the topic here. We were led to this Gwern’s posting by David Handel, founder of our favorite flashcard app, IDoRecall. David is a medical doctor who used flashcards to help him graduate #1 in his medical school class. IDoRecall is David’s effort to give all students an even easier way to use that successful strategy. 

Two Tsunamis About to Hit Higher Education

As this interesting article by the Texas Public Policy Foundation notes that the Department of Education released post graduate earnings and debt data broken down by college program — “which will have a revolutionary impact on higher education. Students (and policymakers) can now get accurate information about how much recent graduates earned by college and degree (e.g., a Bachelor’s in Physics from Ohio State University).”  Even more important, though, is that students and parents will at last be able to make informed choices about degrees and careers. “For years we’ve asked students to make one of life’s most important decisions essentially blindfolded. We’ve told them a college degree is the surest path to success but have given them little guidance on where to go to college or what major to choose once they get there. As a result, too many students leave with a mountain of debt and a credential that isn’t worth much on the labor market. The new data will help equip students — and their parents — with the information necessary to avoid these costly mistakes in several ways.”

Find Your Marigold

We’ve long enjoyed Jennifer Gonzalez’s blog The Cult of Pedagogy, and it’s well past time we should point you towards her wonderful work.  Gonzalez’s post “Find Your Marigold” is written for new teachers, but it actually could apply to virtually any career. After reading her wonderful article, we can at last seriously and legitimately ask—“What type of plant are you?” 

An Angry Parent Fights Back

Here is a fictional video-poem about a fictional night before fictional students took a fictional final exam in a fictional MVP math class in fictional Wake County, NC. More about Blain Dillard’s story 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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