Review: Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success

Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success by Angela Duckworth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Duckworth's book has gotten to be pretty popular by now and it's no wonder given the topic and her means of exploring it. The first challenge of this book is that the reader is likely to be constantly comparing their experience to those in the book and wondering about their level of grit. That's ok--just let it happy. But more importantly, Duckworth's book provides a range of ways of understanding what grit is and how it can be developed in everyone. It's a powerful book to help us think differently about what it is that we look for in developing youth as well as how we foster better outcomes for everyone. If you are looking for a way to understand some of the ways in which we as humans can do great things or want a better sense of how one can improve their approaches for self development or development of others, this would be an ideal book to start with.

View all my reviews


Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The PhD Chronicles: Dissertation Journal #4

So while I had hoped to work that this journal regularly, that clearly hasn't been the case.  Oh well, there are so many hours in a day/week, right and when you're juggling full-time work, part-time work, a PhD program self-care, and social time, somehow, such things just don't happen as they should.  But that doesn't mean I'm not still trying to think about it and jot down ideas here and there.  

This June, we start the process of developing what is likely to become our dissertation and have had our first few meetings with the professor that will be ushering us into the process during the semester.  Based on those meetings, I feel like I'm in a good place.  He gave us a set of questions to write about and reflect based upon what we think we currently want to do and so that will be the crux of this journal entry.  

However, in taking after a good friend and mentor of mine, I'm going to start to make this an open process where people are invited to comment and give feedback as I develop my ideas.  While people can comment in the blog section here, I like the idea that people can tag their comments to specific questions, making the text more interactive and helping both the commenter and myself clarify what area we are discussing.  
Word cloud in the shape of a word balloon.

So here is link to a Google Doc wherein if you want, you can read and even comment.  I promise, when relevant to respond.  

In case you are wondering what I'll be answering but don't wanna click through, here are the questions:
  1. What is my dissertation project about?
  2. Why am I conducting this dissertation topic?
  3. Why should anyone care about my subject? What is my big point?
  4. What is the big picture, the context or the conditions that make it important for me to pursue this topic?
  5. When I am finished with the project, what is the one point that I want to leave with my readers? Which three subpoints do I want to convey to my audience?
  6. Which theories or methodologies will I use to research my topic? Why is that the appropriate theory or method?
  7. What data, sources, texts, or objects are most appropriate for me to work with? Do I have access to them? Do I need to collect them?
  8. What will be the contribution or implications of my dissertation?
  9. How does this topic align with my professional mission and career goals?




Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Review: Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better

Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better by Clive Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thompson dives into the ongoing debate about how technology is impacting humankind with a fascinating look at how the relationship between humans and technologies tends to improve and enhance outcomes in many different ways. He doesn't negate that technologies has limitations and can make things more complicated (e.g. we can now record everything but find nothing), but there are many more areas that he argues well that technology enhances life and meaning for people from the way we play games to how we understand and approach education to how it improves our ways of communicating. It's not necessarily a particularly better book than many of the other ones out there that make similar arguments but it does introduce some different research and materials than what's been said.

View all my reviews


Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

 

Review: Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Pedagogy of the Oppressed Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For those not in the realms of education or social justice, you may not have stumbled upon this book. But for those interested in such subjects (as well as politics, cultural studies, criminal justice, etc), then this is one of those essential classics. Freire's theoretical and complex book may come in well under 200 pages, but it's still an intellectual journey. Reading and processing it reminds me of reading Foucault's History of Sexuality Volume 1; I might have had better luck learning the native language it was published in and then trying to read the book. It's dense but particularly chapter's two and three (there are only four chapters), I found to be the most useful. Basically, Freire explains a way to reconsider how teaching and learning is done at a time and in a place where teaching was entirely one-directional and more part of a system of regulating minds than encouraging actual growth. His writing is sometimes a bit to etherial and he could do better with more grounded examples or clarifications throughout, but as a work that makes an educator think about how he or she will look to those seeking education, this book will change one's philosophy of education.

View all my reviews


Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

 

My Current Bookshelf - March 2017

Another month, more books!  We know that's how it goes here and I've had some really fascinating reads as well as one, painfully-bad read (FYI: Cop Under Fire; easily assuming worst book of the year in my book for numerous reasons; I won't be reviewing it because I'd rather not give it any more attention than it deserves, but you've been warned).  I feel a bit behind with reading this year in terms of how many books (just over 40) for the first 3 months of the year, but there's little I can do about that given the program.  Oh well!  So let's get cracking!
Word cloud of the book reviews for this month.

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

If there is a single book that can structurally explain how racism permeates the history and mythology of the United States, then Kendi's book is if not the book, then certainly a contender (having not read all of them, I cannot say, but having read many books on race, this one is among the best).  Kendi traces the history of the United States' approach to, discourse on, and political consequences of racism from the colonies in the 1600s until the present.  He does this by exploring the lives of five pivotal figures in the history of racism who span all five centuries of US history: Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. DuBois, and Angela Davis.  Kendi posits three ideologies that are found in various forms throughout the history and the works of those with whom he presents: racist, assimilationist, and anti-racist ideologies.  Ultimately, Kendi's power lies in his ability to tie the individual lives to the contemporary discourse of the individuals' time while also drawing parallels to and building a mounting context for understanding racism in the present.

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson

Anderson skillfully deconstructs an unspoken but prevalent theme in the US history of race relations since well before the Civil War: white rage.  Directly and indirectly, she shows how the often stereotypical assumption of African-Americans as being unwieldy or out of control (that is, having "black rage") is largely a matter of projection of a white rage.  White rage has historically over-reacted to each attempt by African American and other marginalized peoples to establish an equal footing as put forward in the US's founding documents.  Thus, she shows from the Civil War to the presidency of Barak Obama, how viciously and brutally dominant white culture has reacted.  Whether it was de-facto enslavement for unemployed African Americans in the post-Civil War era, the rise of segregation, the intentional exclusion of compensation for African Americans who fought in war, the attempts to shut down or create private or charter schools in the absence of desegregation to unequal sentencing (or due process) in the justice system to systematic attempts to limit their ability to vote, white social, cultural, and political power has actively sought to see equality as a threat to the status quo and been willing to take innocent lives and freedoms to maintain and perpetuate this power and racial divide.  Anderson's makes that provess entirely clear with accessible prose that provides specifics but does not inundate readers with unnecessary details.  

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Adichie's short book (what's the equivalent of a novella in nonfiction?  Long-form essay?) is a collection of short essays that stem from her TED Talk exploring how and why feminism is a necessity for all societies.  She connects her personal stories and experiences to the larger discourse on feminism and draws useful analogies for many to understand and appreciate about its place in the 21st century throughout the world.  It's a quick read that can refuel some while also introducing complex considerations about feminism to someone just exploring it for the first time.

Check out other reading recommendations from 2017 (and you can always look at all of my books that I've read on GoodReads):

BOOKS


  • We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

AUDIOBOOKS


  • The Soul of the First Amendment by Flloyd Abrams
  • Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill  Schutt,
  • How to Talk Dirty and Influence People: An Autobiography by Lenny Bruce
  • Snapshot by Brandon Sanderson
  • Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America by David Clarke
  • Dr. Strange: The Fate of Dreams by Devin Grayson
  • Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
  • Born Both: An Intersex Life by Hilda Viloria
  • White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson

GRAPHIC NOVELS


  • Outcast, Vol. 4: Under Devil's Wing by Robert Kirkman
  • The Walking Dead, Vol. 27: The Whisperer War  by Robert Kirkman
  • Star Wars, Vol 4: Last Flight of the Harbinger by Jason Aaron

What about you reader?  What book recommendations do you have for me?


Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Review: Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do about It

Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do about It Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do about It by Kate Harding
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In many ways this is a brutal book for many people. For victims of rape and sexual assault, it confirms and explains what many of them have gone through in a culture that pays mere lipservice to victims of such violence. For those who have never been directly involved, it's an eye-opening exploration into how many of us are likely to be complicit in sexual violence in our culture. But equally important, it's an eloquent and strong critique that gives victims and allies the means of which to see the pernicious assumptions about sexual violence in our culture and to call it out when we see it. Harding's accessible prose, wit, and drawing out of the different aspects of American society that create a rape culture blend together so well that the reader is left speechless. It's one of those reads that I feel that everyone should read and even if it people disagree with it, we'd be a better society for having read.

View all my reviews




Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

CFP: 3rd Call: Teaching Popular Culture

More CFPs are coming and I'm getting quite excited!  Here's another reminder for those looking to submit something!

I am the Chair for the Teaching Popular Culture area for the Northeast Popular Culture Association (NEPCA).  As someone who teaches a course, specifically on popular culture, I am always interested in seeing and hearing what others are doing.  

I also tend to look at the Teaching Popular Culture area as a bit different than the other areas which are research focused.  I see this area more along the lines of providing some professional development, feedback, and reflection around how we employ popular culture in the classroom.  I feel like this is an often under-attended element of popular culture studies: how we meaningfully engage with it with our students.  

Therefore, I'm quite interested in hearing from people and encourage anyone who may teach a popular culture focused course or use popular culture in interesting and useful ways to put in a proposal.  Here are a few of the formats that I'm interested in seeing and/or participating in.  If you have questions or thoughts around these, please don't hesitate to contact me:  lance.eaton@gmail.com.  

Round-Table of Popular Culture and Teaching

Those who teach a popular-culture-focused course (specifically about popular culture or thematically structured around popular culture) can discuss some of the challenges, benefits, and experiences in teaching such a course.  I imagine this format entailing a list of questions that the participants can go through followed up with questions by attendees.  I would also think we could capture the comments and produce some kind of interesting resource for the NEPCA website.  


Panel on Teaching

If you and other faculty teach a similar topic, area of popular culture, or have different strategies and approaches that you want to illustrate, a proposed full panel about teaching on popular culture is of great interest.  

Panel on Teaching Popular Culture Online

I'll throw my hat into the ring with this one.  I'm really interested in working with and presenting with other faculty who have or regularly teach popular culture (or focus in some ways on popular culture) in an online environment.  I think there is a lot to discuss and explore with regards to this topic and would encourage anyone else in this vein to reach out to me.  

Individual Presentations on Strategies, Approaches, Resources

Honestly, if you've got something related to teaching and popular culture, please submit a proposal.  Every year that I've done this, we get some really fantastic presentations on a range of great topics relating to teaching and popular culture.  If you're stuck on the fence or need someone to brainstorm and flesh out your proposal a bit more, feel free to reach out to me and we'll see what we can come up with.  


First Call NEPCA 2017


Blog post in a word cloud in the form of an appleThe Northeast Popular/American Culture Association (NEPCA) announces its first call for paper proposals for its annual conference. The 2017 conference will be held on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst the weekend of October 27-28, 2017.    

NEPCA is soliciting proposals dealing with all aspects of popular culture and American culture, broadly construed. NEPCA welcomes both individual papers and complete panels. We also encourage works in progress, and informal presentations. The only restrictions on presentations are that:

The proposal should be rooted in research. We do not automatically exclude original poetry, composed works of fiction, or musical/dance/storytelling performance, but such works must be connected to greater theoretical and research frameworks.
NEPCA generally avoids proposals whose intent is overtly commercial.
Proposals should appeal to a broad audience.


NEPCA conferences welcome graduate students, junior faculty, independent researchers, and senior faculty as equals. NEPCA prides itself on offering intimate and nurturing sessions in which new ideas and works-in-progress can be aired, as well as completed projects. NEPCA is dedicated to expanding intellectual horizons, open engagement, and constructive criticism. 

Papers are generally 15-20 minutes in length. NEPCA discourages (but does not forbid) verbatim reading of papers and strongly encourages creative delivery of papers. 

This fall it will also feature shorter presentations in pecha kucha style in which presenters show a total of 20 slides–one every 20 seconds (total presentation time: less than 7 minutes). The idea behind pecha kucha is for scholars to present material quickly so that discussion and new ideas can ensue. It is an ideal form for research in progress! 

The deadline for applications is June 1, 2017. The Program Chair for 2017 is Professor Marty Norden of the UMass Communications Department but, for tracking and logistical purposes, proposals must be submitted to an online Google Form that can be found on NEPCA's Website: https://nepca.blog/2017-conference/ This pages also includes a link to area chairs who can assist in any questions you have about your proposal. 



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The PhD Chronicles: And Sometimes, You Feel It

Note:  Please remember that these posts are dated one year from when they are composed.  They represented my thoughts, reflections, and feelings in the time of writing.  These may not necessarily reflect my current thoughts or may just be a means of flushing out my thoughts to get a better view.  

Well, we'll call this post a processing post.  I spent all day in class yesterday, trying to focus but not succeeding.  It's a busy and chaotic week in which besides actively job searching (thinking and planning for interviews, interviewing, submitting applications, etc), teaching, working and the PhD program, I also had to unexpectedly care for someone.  To be clear--I'm more than happy to care for family and friends--without a second thought.  That said, it doesn't mean it doesn't put added stress into one's life when you welcome someone into your home for several weeks who has limited mobility (and I can only imagine how stressful and challenging it is for that person--I'm not disconnected from that).  It would be challenging without anything else.  However, I'm happy to do it even if it adds new obstacles to my schedule.  

So with all that in my head, I felt this week has been one big ball of stress and of course, that's led me to doing a fair share of stress eating and not nearly enough running.  Funny, how that works--I have ample opportunities to cram food in my face but not enough to get out and running.  I was definitely irritable, exhausted, and just wandering in my own mind.  Coming into class and maintaining any level of attention felt like a lost cause.  My mind couldn't hold onto ideas long enough to connect them or make sense of them.  My class participation was a bit of a joke and I'd be surprised if anything I contributed came across as coherent.  Blarggg!

And of course, being in such a rut with a good deal of it being spurred on by issues with higher education, it certainly did lead me to think about whether I'm in the right program or if I want to persist.  Now, I know some of this is part of my own regularly struggle with being in a PhD program that is in some ways, the exact part of the process.  I get that.  But of course, when I am in the midst of it, struggling with it, frustrated with college leadership in many different areas of higher education, it certainly does make me hesitate and wonder about the work that I do and its meaning.  I supposed it's inevitable but it's still a dark and challenging place to be.  


Image reads:  "BLANK SPACE INDICATES A TWO-WEEK GAP BETWEEN WHEN I STARTED THIS POST AND WHEN I FINISHED IT!"

Several things collided in one week.  Much of it revolved around work politics and the realization that as much as I love where I have worked for the past nearly five years, that it was indeed time to move on.  This transition may take weeks or months and though I've already been actively job-searching, this week crystallized on many levels that it is better to move on than to stay.  That if I am ever going to do more at this institute, I need some space for the time being.

The big reasons to leave have to do with growing and exploring new opportunities that will push me to learn more than what I am currently doing.  However, there are certainly smaller factors that have encouraged me as well and much of that has to do with finding disappointment with different leaders within the institute.  I know full-well that I will find such issues elsewhere, but I need to do so ahistorically--with the fresh eyes of a new employee learning the institute rather than the complex history that I have had with the current institute.  

Regardless, the process has been a bit disheartening and  hit me a bit hard since higher education is the focus of my program. I know that I will inevitably move pass this state of mind and be more excited and enthusiastic about what I'm doing, but I think right now, I'm just pulled down by a mixture of stress, disillusionment, and disappointment.  

Want to catch up on my previous reflections about being in a PhD program?  Check them out:
  1. Acceptance
  2. Orientation
  3. Day 1
  4. Week 1
  5. First 2 Courses Completed
  6. First 2 Courses Finished
  7. Semester 2, Here We Go
  8. The Existential Crisis of the Week
  9. The Balancing Act
  10. Negotiating Privilege in Higher Education
  11. Zeroing in on Research
  12. Completing the Second Semester
  13. Dissertation Journal #1
  14. Dissertation Journal #2
  15. So Starts The Third Semester
  16. My Educational Philosophy...for now
  17. Dissertation Journal #3
  18. PhD'ese



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.