Week in Review: World Cup Edition

Lego recreation of Maradonna's Hand of God goal

Sometimes, we all need help from the "hand of God."

What are you reading, watching, thinking about this week? As usual, here’s a few which have been on our mind. Let us know your thoughts on any/all of them. If you have items you’d like us to consider for the top five, add them in the comments or send them to Tom or Mike.

1. Faith and Freedom (Inside Higher Ed, June 9): Our brothers and sisters to the north are facing an interesting debate. The Canadian Association of University Teachers (the largest Canadian faculty association) has begun a campaign to “investigate” colleges and universities that require faculty to sign statements of faith, claiming that statements of faith are inherently inconsistent with academic freedom. Christian Higher Education Canada, an association of 33 Christian institutions (including Mike’s graduate alma mater) has responded with a call to discuss exactly what is meant by “academic freedom.”  CAUT’s position is clear:

“Nothing that calls itself a university should have a faith test. That’s just not acceptable.”

As we’ve seen in the CLS v. Martinez case, conflicts between secular and religious visions for education are here to stay for a while.

2.  Faculty Burnout Has Both External and Internal Sources, Scholar Says (Audrey Williams June, Chronicle, 6/9/2010).  Tom: I agree with the comment that more research is needed in this area.  I’d like to see a copy of Janie Crosmer’s paper. A short quote from her interview:

Q. What are the key things that contribute to faculty burnout?

A. Lack of time, poorly prepared students, cumbersome bureaucratic rules, high self expectations, unclear institutional expectations, and low salary. Research shows that the sources of stress have remained unchanged for 25 years. We know about the problem, but we’re not doing anything about it.

Any thoughts on whether academic burnout is unique?

Photo: Lego recreation of Diego Maradona’s infamous “Hand of God” goal from the 1986 World Cup. From a series of Lego versions of famous photos by Balakov on Flickr. HT: Alan Jacobs.

3.  Beam Us Up, Professor! (Alexandra Tilsley. Chronicle of Higher Education. 6/7/2010). Has Star Trek been part of your educational journey through the sciences, morality, and ethics? What episodes or scenes have you seen used well or would desire to explore with a class?

4. Hope for the Humanities? A mini-rash of articles and opinion pieces have come out this week proposing different ways and reasons to save the humanities.

David Brooks of the NY Times points out the value of learning to read and write well:

Studying the humanities improves your ability to read and write. No matter what you do in life, you will have a huge advantage if you can read a paragraph and discern its meaning (a rarer talent than you might suppose). You will have enormous power if you are the person in the office who can write a clear and concise memo.

In the Chronicle, James Mulholland suggests we stop mourning the humanities, which led to this prediction from Alan Jacobs:

I do not think that the study of literature will long survive as an independent concern within universities. I think by the time I retire literature will be studied only as part of two other disciplines: rhetoric and cultural history. And while that will be unfortunate in some ways, it won’t be the worst thing that ever happened to literature.

5.  Reflections on Teaching with Social Media (Brian Croxall, Chronicle of Higher Education, 6/7/2010) discusses a number of tools and ends with these helpful thoughts.  We pass the inquiries along to you.

But as I reflect, here is what I think I’ve most learned from a semester with heavy social media use:

  1. Be ready for problems. Even if you’ve never had any yourself, the number of students and of students’ computers (whether personal or in a lab) will insure that you have some.
  2. Be conscious of tool fatigue. The classroom should be a place where lots of learning takes place and where the patterns of learning can be shifted in interesting ways. Just don’t overdo it.
  3. In the end, I still think it is worth it.

What experiences have you had using social media in the classroom? What are your favorite tools? Which would you never, ever use again?

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Micheal Hickerson

The former Associate Director for the Emerging Scholars Network, Micheal lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children and works as a web manager for a national storage and organization company. He writes about work, vocation, and finding meaning in what you do at No Small Actors.

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