Tuesday, December 20, 2016

On fragmenting & fragments

I love to read. I love to foster students' excitement about reading. I love when students who claim they don't love reading maybe, just maybe, start to change their minds -- a little. For these reasons and others, I champion independent reading as a classroom priority.

It's not all peaches and cream, though. I also notice downsides of independent (vs. shared) reading. For instance, our classroom community does less connecting and thinking together about books. It doesn't have to be this way; lately, it just is. Some student feedback at the end of this semester has me thinking about that and subtly different approaches we might take in 2017.

Mean time, I'm using this space (increasingly) to share slices of what I'm reading. A few powerful quotes are sticking with me from the book I just finished, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. This space seems like a good one to park them, along with a few related thoughts...
  • On why Kalanithi pursued a career in medicine versus one in a more abstract realm like literature or philosophy: "Moral speculation was puny compared to moral action." (43) I take this as a reminder, when teaching, not to get too bogged down in analysis when brisk action might be key.
  • On the doctor/patient relationship, crystallizing a stance I aspire to take with students: "Here we are together, and here are the ways through -- I promise to guide you, as best I can, to the other side." (88)
  • On growth mindsets by way of math metaphor: "You can't ever reach perfection , but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving." (115)
  • On death, dying and the calculations science make: "The angst of facing mortality has no remedy in probability." (135) This dynamic has analogs in education as many students and their families, and school systems even, equate failure with a killing blow.
  • On seeking connections in service of learning: "Human knowledge is never contained in one person. it grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete." (172)
Thanks for reading.



8 comments:

  1. Thoughts on your reading -- such a good way to use your blog. I especially appreciate this quote: "You can't ever reach perfection , but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving." It reminds me that when i was young, I was fascinated by the idea that if you go just halfway toward where you are going, you will never get there, because whatever distance you've gone, it's still only halfway. Yet you never stop trying to get where you want to go. Plus, you reminded me of the word "asymptote," which has such an interesting sound and rhythm and meaning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For the curious (or the easily distracted), learn more about Zeno's paradoxes, to which Red Emma is alluding: http://www.iep.utm.edu/zeno-par/

      Delete
  2. My sister has recommended "When Breath Becomes Air" to me. Now I am even more intrigued by it. I will put it on hold at the library.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I like how you led us to quotations from your recent read that make us ponder. The last one resonates with me. Stay tuned for the unveiling of Autumnventure.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love that last quote...it makes me think of that ed campy notion that no one is as smart as the room. One thing I've tried with my students is digital reading walls via padlet to share independent reading lives... way to connect and see what each other is reading. Wishing you a great holiday and winter break! I'm so glad you are part of this community!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Brian, I'd love to hear about the different ways you approach independent reading in 2017. We face the same problem. We've incorporated a lot more independent reading (as opposed to shared reading) but miss the class discussions that come with shared reading. I'm curious to hear about the changes you make.

    ReplyDelete
  6. thanks for inspiring me. On seeking connections in service of learning: "Human knowledge is never contained in one person. it grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete."
    When I began blogging 14 days ago, I never realized that I would gain so much human connection.
    I too promote and ponder about independent reading both the students and my own on a daily basis.
    Currently reading Gloria Steinem, My Life on the Road. Full of thinking as well.

    ReplyDelete