Teaching This Week: 5 Cool Things

I managed to make some time this week (mostly due to a couple of sick days) to mess around online, and see what the world of teaching looks like right now.

1. The big talk is around the New York Times Sunday Magazine’s article “Can Good Teaching Be Learned?” (or, as it is known online, “Building a Better Teacher.”)  Although the driving question represented by the title is ridiculous – of course it can! – the article is compelling, as it follows one researcher’s quest to identify exactly what good teaching is, what training in good teaching would look like, and what its outcomes might be.

2. I’m teaching J. D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, and this week we’re talking about the concept of conformity/nonconformity.  Entirely by serendipity, I came across this little treatise on the conditions under which conformity thrives or wanes.  Interesting and useful.

3. I’m always looking for ways to organize my course stuff.  Jim Burke’s system looks labour-intensive, but implementing it might be a good summer project.

4. If you’ve been reading here lately, you know I’ve been wrestling with the question of why the study of literature is important.  Here’s a lovely post about it on Freethought Forum, with insightful comments.

5. One last exciting discovery – one I may have made before, but it only hit home yesterday – is MIT’s Open Courseware site, which gives access to course materials for, it seems, 1900 MIT courses.  The link to literature courses is here.

Image by Deniz Ongar


2 thoughts on “Teaching This Week: 5 Cool Things

  1. “Maximum conformity is seen when groups reach between 3 and 5 people.

    Add more people and it makes little difference, less than 3, though, and conformity is substantially reduced….”

    So according to these folks, we have our best shot at non-conformity within one-on-one relationships. Does this mean that marriage — which some would consider a highly conformist institution — is actually a hotbed of non-conformity?

    Thanks, Siobhan, this was an interesting read.


    1. MonTanguera: I think what is being suggested is that in a one-on-one situation, the participants are less likely to conform TO ONE ANOTHER than is a group of 3 to 5, where group members are likely to be swayed by each other. That’s my reading.


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