Tuesday, July 12, 2016

On Being Yourself in the Classroom

Some time ago, I was preparing for a lesson on digital footprints, and I was googling myself. (C'mon, admit it...you do it too...right?) In the process, I found this image:

Via quickmeme.com

Yes, that's the "Ancient Aliens" conspiracy-theorist guy.

No, I did not create this myself.

But I am afraid one of my students might have. (I'm only mostly joking...)

If one of my students did create this--whatever the motives behind it--I'll take it as a compliment.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Calling: Knowing and Loving

This summer, along with many of my colleagues, I am reading Steven Garber's book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good. I have enjoyed it immensely, but I find I have to read it in small chunks, because there are so many big ideas, and I need to spend some time chewing on them, so to speak.

It is timely that I am reading this book right now, but perhaps not for the reasons you might suspect, given the title of the book. The book is about vocation--calling--but not in the sense that you might normally associate with the word "vocation." Calling is much more than just your job, your employment, your career. A the very beginning of the book, Garber includes a note explaining his belief about meaning of "vocation," and he suggests we should think about this word as "a rich one, having to address the wholeness of life, the range of relationships and responsibilities. Work, yes, but also families, and neighbors, and citizenship, locally and globally--all of this and more is seen as vocation, that to which I am called as a human being, living my life before the face of God" (from "On Vocation," p. 11).

In the chapters I have read so far, Garber draws upon his experiences working in Washington D.C. as an academic and the leader of a think tank, his friendships with people in powerful positions and lowly ones alike--Senators and students, authors and artists--and weaves their stories together in ways that have brought me fresh eyes to the concept of vocation.

The reading so far has me thinking, "Just what am I called to do?" and this is a little unsettling for me, because I feel like I am just getting comfortable in my work as a professor.

But, as I suggested above, I find the reading of this particular book timely at the moment. If you have been following the news in the United States at all in the past weeks, you will undoubtably know that there is an incredible sense of unrest. Political rhetoric is burning. Race relations are tense. There have been so many shootings across this country in the past week alone, and my heart aches. Protestors and police alike are in turmoil. And all of it is playing out in social media in painful, hurtful, nasty ways.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Thoughtful Homework

My friend, Erik Ellefsen, always has good stuff for me to think about. (If you are an educator, you should really follow him on Twitter.) Today he shared this with me...

Here's the tweet from Daniel Willingham that Erik was retweeting to me...
I appreciated the post by Willingham that is shared here. If you've been following my rant against homework over the past few months, this is a really interesting piece to consider. Willingham starts off with this gem:
There's plenty of research on homework and the very brief version of the findings is probably well known to readers of this blog: homework has a modest effect on the academic achievement of older students, and no effect on younger students...
That's what I've been writing about--homework doesn't do what teachers often think it does. (Check out this post calling for an end to "crappy homework," or this one encouraging teachers to rethink worksheets. And there's lots more, if you want to read them...check out this list of posts tagged with "homework.")

But this piece from Willingham was really interesting to me.