Waking Up

11th August 2022

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Month

Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, by Sam Harris.  This book is meant to be a common sense guide to finding spirituality without necessarily springboarding from a religious tradition. In Harris’s hands, we gain a clearer understanding of mindfulness. “It is simply a state of clear, nonjudgmental, and undistracted attention to the contents of consciousness, whether pleasant or unpleasant.” (But for those LHTLers amongst us who are interested in such matters, it seems cultivating mindfulness translates to continuously maintaining focus and concomitAntly diminishing both anxiety and creativity, perhaps a mixed blessing.) 

As Harris notes: “The crucial point is that you can glimpse something about the nature of consciousness that will liberate you from suffering in the present. Even just recognizing the impermanence of your mental states—deeply, not merely as an idea—can transform your life.”

Harris has knocked around the world of meditation for many yearslong enough to have a good feel for both the best and the worst of meditation experts and spiritual gurus.  You’ll find yourself thinking about Harris’s ideas  long after you finish the book.

OpenStax: A Best-Selling Textbook Is Now Free

As Liam Knox notes in Inside Higher Ed, award-winning and prolific author and professor emeritus John McMurry has recently decided to move his classic book Organic Chemistry from industry giant Cengage to OpenStax, a nonprofit based at Rice University that is dedicated to developing open education resources (OER), learning and research materials created and licensed to be free for the user.  “That means for the first time, the digital version of Organic Chemistry and its accompanying solutions manual — usually priced at almost $100 — will be available for students to download free.” OpenStax is growing wildly in popularity. “According to a recent survey by Bay View Analytics, faculty use of OER materials grew significantly over the past few years, especially during the pandemic. In 2015 only 5 percent of faculty said they used OER course materials; in 2022 that number had jumped to 22 percent.”

OpenStax Free College Textbooks and Related Flashcard Sets

Barb will present Teach You Students How to Learn in a webinar hosted by iDoRecall and OpenStax.org on August 17th at 1 PM EDT. Go ahead register, and you’ll receive a link to the recording so you can watch whenever it is convenient. Barb is the pro bono Chief learning Science Advisor of iDoRecall who has developed comprehensive sets of flashcards for most of OpenStax’s portfolio of Creative Commons high school and college textbooks. Everyone can access these flashcards for free. When you practice memory retrieval and struggle with the answer, you can click a link to open a PDF of the book at the precise, relevant location to refresh your memory.

Momentum builds behind a way to lower the cost of college: A degree in three years

This article by Jon Marcus in The Hechinger Report describes “A rare brand-new nonprofit university, NewU [with] a comparatively low $16,500-a-year price that’s locked in for a student’s entire education and majors with interchangeable requirements so students don’t fall behind if they switch.”  Part of the savings—and a big part of the draw—is that NewU offers bachelor’s degrees in three years instead of the customary four. Students are looking for a more efficient education, and a three year degreemuch as what is offered in European universitiesappears to be just the ticket.  As the article notes: “We didn’t think the three-year bachelor’s degree was going to be the biggest draw,” said Stratsi Kulinski, president of the startup college. “But it has been, hands-down. Consumers are definitely ready for something different.”

Barb Revisits Discussion of Pathological Altruism with the Atlas Society

Here’s Barb thinking she’s only on a podcast, so she’s especially frumpy when contrasted with the not only whip-smart, but also stylish President of the Atlas Society, Jennifer Anju Grossman. The Atlas Society is a benevolent group that tries to do good through rational, objective thinking. In this blundering (on Barb’s part) discussion, Barb manages to gratuitously diss objectivist heroine Ayn Rand even while praising some of her valuable ideas about pathologies of altruism. Here are the links to the webinar recording on YouTube and Facebook—take a look and listen and see what you think!

Zoom Party with Dr. Agarwal!

Join the Zoom Party from 5:00pm – 6:30pm EDT today (Friday, August 12) with Dr. Pooja Agarwal, co-author of one of our favorite books on teaching, Powerful Teaching.  These Zoom parties are a lot of funBarb went to one of Pooja’s previous ones this summer, and she plans to go again tonight.  See you there!

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

View more Cheery Friday e-mails >