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. New online journal for student research: The Chronicle reports on Student Pulse, a new online journal for student research. Some good points from the Chronicle’s commenters about copyright and usage issues, but still an interesting and inspiring idea for sharing early academic work.
2. Abstract Thoughts? The Body Takes Them Literally (Natalie Angier, NY Times, February 1, 2010). Leaning forward with anticipation regarding what we might learn from the immensely popular field called embodied cognition or reclining (even if only a little bit) and giving it a quizzical look?
3. Educators Mull How to Motivate Professors to Improve Teaching (David Glenn, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 24, 2010). Any suggestions or encouraging case studies to share?
4. Teaching Matters: Rethinking the Hybrid Course (Steve Fox, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 31, 2010). What do you think of Fox’s suggestions regarding Hybrid courses? Have you taken or taught any Hybrid courses? What recommendations would you add, in particular with regard to the management of a classroom blog? Any encouraging case studies to share?
5. “The most important person in the world”: I (Mike) was not familiar with the HeLa cell line until I read Dwight Garner’s NYTimes review of the new book by Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Ms. Lacks, an uneducated, African American Virginia tobacco farmer who died of cervical cancer at the age of 31, contributed the famously immortal cells that have
helped with some of the most important advances in medicine: the polio vaccine, chemotherapy, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization,” Ms. Skloot writes. HeLa cells were used to learn how nuclear bombs affect humans, and to study herpes, leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and AIDS. They were sent up in the first space missions, to see what becomes of human cells in zero gravity.
The problem? Ms. Lacks never gave permission for her cells to be used for scientific experiments, and researchers continued to draw samples from her descendants without explaining why, one part of the tragic legacy of American medical treatment of African Americans. From Garner’s review:
As one of Mrs. Lacks’s sons says: “She’s the most important person in the world, and her family living in poverty. If our mother so important to science, why can’t we get health insurance?”
This looks like an important – and discussion-provoking – book.