Current Reading

This blog is primarily for me to blog my responses to books that I'm reading. Sometimes I blog about other stuff too, though.

I'm currently reading Notes on the Death of Culture: Essays on Spectacle and Society by Mario Vargas Llosa.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Reaction to chapter 3 of Guinier's book

She makes a powerful argument that diversity, disadvantage, and other factors besides traditional academic measures are worthy of consideration in admissions decisions.  I agree 100%.  I just don't see the traditional academic measures as a problem.  Rather, I see sole reliance on them (or anything else) as a problem.

Also, while her anecdote about the black men recruited to Holy Cross is a powerful and important one, these young men were hand-selected for admission to a small institution.  I question whether traditional academic measures could be so easily eradicated from the entirety of higher education, given the labor-intensive nature of the selection process that identified the Holy Cross students, and the fact that it was undertaken by a man who had quite literally taken a vow to forsake a family life and devote himself to his work (i.e. a priest).  So far this is like reading a NYT article on “This one school that did this one thing in this one special setting and it worked and why doesn’t everyone do it?”

Finally, I am sooooooooo delighted to see that Eric Mazur's hip teaching methods will be discussed in upcoming chapters.  Yes, that's exactly what I want to read about.  Wow, Eric Mazur is such a revolutionary, man!  He wants to take the focus off the sage on the stage, and he will give you a workshop where he takes credit for that idea and encourages you to read a book with his smiling face on the cover.  Because he wants the focus to be on someone other than the sage.

Yeah, I'm gonna loooooove the upcoming chapters.

More seriously, peer instruction is a fine way to teach the students that you’ve admitted, but if you have thousands of applicants for hundreds of seats, all of the clickers in the world won’t help you.   Unless you decide to sit them in an auditorium, project the SAT questions on a screen, and then have them press buttons to pick answers together.  Which is probably not what Guinier has in mind...

P.S.  I use clickers in intro classes, but that doesn't mean I can't be annoyed by Mazur and the adulation for him.

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