Book Review of “The Missing Course: Everything They Never Taught You About College Teaching”

A snippet from my review posted at the Canadian Journal of Higher Education

In my classes I try to explain to second year comput-ing students that their technical skills are only one part of what they need to succeed. Many jobs are like that, requiring both discipline or field specific skills and trans-ferable or soft skills. In The Missing Course: Everything They Never Taught You About College Teaching (2019) David Gooblar explains that for postsecondary profes-sors teaching is not a soft skill, it is a second discipline we should be engaging in the same way we engage with our primary discipline.

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning is not a new discipline. However, it is often neglected in grad-uate studies, relegated to the individual’s professional development rather than being a core part of the curric-ulum. The Missing Course (2019) is Gooblar’s attempt to provide a concise and practical overview of teaching and learning with the objective of helping college and university instructors improve their classroom teaching. It is a valuable book for everyone who teaches or plans to teach in postsecondary from full professors to new graduate students.

Review: Pathways for Remembering and Recognizing Indigenous Thought in Education

This is a snippet of my review posted at SA-Exchange.

Sandra D. Styres 2017 book Pathways for Remembering and Recognizing Indigenous Thought in Education: Philosophies of Iethi’nihsténha Ohwentsia’kékha (land) is a key addition to the literature around understanding core concepts in Indigenous philosophies of education.

The audience of this book is academics who want to be able to express the specific philosophies that Indigenous people bring to education. It is not a book aimed at practitioners so much as researchers. Although it touches on story as a teaching method (Archibald, 2008) it does not utilize that as a primary method itself. There is some teaching through story but not nearly as much as a book like Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. This book falls somewhere between western academic writing and Indigenous teaching through story, and that is one of its strengths. In addition, while Styres is trying to explain concepts that are common to many Indigenous peoples, she is approaching educational philosophy from a Haudenosaunee perspective.

Read the rest of this review at SA-Exchange.

Fantasy, Humanism, and Improving Authors

Everyone likes different books. I tend to like books that speak to being human. I think that’s why I read so much fantasy literature. To blatantly steal a concept, they use the impossible to examine the probable. When you strip away the requirement to make the setting accurate you allow yourself the ability to more easily examine Truth.

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Starship Troopers Review

Starship TroopersStarship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Starship Troopers is, in my opinion, one of the three best military sci-fi novels ever written. It shares that distinction with Ender’s Game and Old Man’s war.

It’s also a good primer on, in the books own words, “moral philosophy”. Though it’s main story is about Johny Rico’s time in the Mobile Infantry and their fight against the pseudo-arachnids (the bugs) most of the novel is the musings of Johny on morals, primarily through his remembrances of his “History and Moral Philosophy” teacher in high school.

The basis of morality according to Heinlein (through his characters) is spelled out in the middle of Chapter 12: “Morals – all correct moral rules derive from the instinct to survive; moral behavior is survival behavior above the individual level – as in a father who dies to save his children.”

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Review of The Forever War

The Forever War (The Forever War, #1)The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Forever War may be a Sci-Fi classic but it shouldn’t be.

Throughout the book we follow the main character as he goes through a series of unconnected scenes, like a bad documentary. Seeing a bit of everything the author imagines about the future. All this is punctuated with brief moments of exposition either spoken or by internal monologue. Instead of showing us the story that interconnects these snippets of the future we are told it, and it isn’t until over halfway through the book that we get our first moments of character development that isn’t told to us as a recap of what came between the last two scenes.

The “love story” happens entirely off page, and there is almost no actual development of their relationship, again essentialy just being shown unconnected bits of the relationship without any of the important movement.

In addition, this book is a perfect example of poorly written “hard” Sci fi. The author spends so much time explaining the technology, and so little time on character development and plot that to those of us reading it from the authors future are left only with a picture of what someone thought our present and future might be like, and with nothing else holding the novel together we can only shake our heads at how wrong they were, and how silly the portrayal of the future looks.

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