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I’d like to draw some literature picks to your attention to connect some dots or just make us think divergently. Even in hard core science curricula, using story or language to develop understanding is just good practice. We will see more next week… Digital storytelling…
Sherman’s Curiosity of School connects schooling traditions and social change. His anecdotal tales will make our absurd debates and reform crisis perhaps not seem so bad. 🙂
Tubes by Blum is a collections of descriptions defining the Internet design and operating. What happens once your Internet cable leaves your home? Blum illustrates the physical networks and in doing so really showcase how magnificent something like a MOOC is.
The Divinity of Dogs is a collection of narratives that showcase various bonds between dogs and their people. What is striking to me is the powerful connections people make with animals. Not so much the why but the how? There are hugely powerful forces in our humanity and in the cosmos that are not digital or technological and we need to remain vigilante to not lose sight that learning is a human experience not so much a mechanical one. I believe , like dog philosophy, that learning is more high touch than high tech. The simplest connection metaphor is the handshake and the shake a paw- don’t forget that.
“One design that appears through out the world is branching … This occurs every time we marvel at the tree-shaped design of lightning bolts that flash across the sky and when we watch chimneys of steam escape from pots of cooking …… not a visual suggestion, but the design itself. A lightning bolt is the tree-shaped architecture that evolves in a flash to move electricity from a cloud to the ground. ..” -Bejan, A
Whether trees or tubes or the training of dogs, connected learning principles and examples are infused around us, in our lives and in our literature. Powerful reads are invaluable resources to illuminate ideas, stimulate discussion, or prompt debates. Adam Gopnik tells te story of winter, Canadian winter primarily but in doing so make connections about our heritage and our humanity. Absolutely scholarly work. You can listen to his speaking erosion in mp3 via CBC podcasts.
Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology,…
by Adrian Bejan, J. Peder Zane
In this groundbreaking book, Adrian Bejan takes the recurring patterns in nature—trees, tributaries, air passages, neural networks, and lightning bolts—and reveals how a single principle of physics, the Constructal Law, accounts for the evolution of these and all other designs in our world.
Everything—from biological life to inanimate systems—generates shape and structure and evolves in a sequence of ever-improving designs in order to facilitate flow. River basins, cardiovascular systems, and bolts of lightning are very efficient flow systems to move a current—of water, blood, or electricity. Likewise, the more complex architecture of animals evolve to cover greater distance per unit of useful energy, or increase their flow across the land. Such designs also appear in human organizations, like the hierarchical “flowcharts” or reporting structures in corporations and political bodies.
All are governed by the same principle, known as the Constructal Law, and configure and reconfigure themselves over time to flow more efficiently. Written in an easy style that achieves clarity without sacrificing complexity, Design in Nature is a paradigm-shifting book that will fundamentally transform our understanding of the world around us.
Winter: Five Windows on the Season (CBC Massey Lecture)
by Adam Gopnik
A taste for winter, a love of winter a mind for winter” is for many a part of the modern human condition. International bestselling author Adam Gopnik does for this storied season what he did for the City of Light in the New York Times bestseller Paris to the Moon. Here he tells the story of winter in five parts: Romantic Winter, Radical Winter, Recuperative Winter, Recreational Winter, and Remembering Winter. In this stunningly beautiful meditation, Gopnik touches on a kaleidoscope of subjects, from the German romantic landscape to the politics of polar exploration to the science of ice. And in the end, he pays homage to what could be a lost season and thus, a lost collective cultural history due to the threat of global warming. Through delicate, enchanting, and intricate narrative detail, buoyed by his trademark gentle wit, Gopnik draws us into another magical world and makes us look at it anew.
The Curiosity of School. by Zander Sherman
It’s one thing we all have in common. We’ve all been to school. But as Zander Sherman shows in this fascinating, often shocking account of institutionalized education, sending your kids off to school was not always normal. In fact, school is a very recent invention. Taking the reader back to 19th-century Prussia, where generals, worried about soldiers’ troubling individuality, sought a way to standardize every young man of military age, through to the most controversial debates about the topic of education today, Sherman tells the often astonishing stories of the men and women—and corporations—that have defined what we have come to think of as both the privilege and the responsibility of being educated. With clarity, detachment, and wry humour, Sherman presents the story of school through the stories of its most influential—and peculiar—reformers. We learn that Montessori schools were embraced by Mussolini’s Italy, that the founder of Ryerson University was a champion of the Canadian residential school system (for which the government apologized a century and a half later), and that Harvard was once a byword for mediocrity.
Troublesome Words.by Bill Bryson Fascinating connections between words, histories and how people choose to use words.
This dictionary provides a straightforward guide to the pitfalls and hotly disputed issues in written English. The entries are discussed with wit and common sense, and illustrated with examples of questionable usage taken from leading British and American newspapers, plus occasional references to masters of the language such as Samuel Johnson and Shakespeare. No familiarity with English grammar is needed to learn from this book, although a glossary of grammatical terms is included and there is also an appendix on punctuation.
Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow
Trent McCauley is sixteen, brilliant, and obsessed with one thing: making movies on his computer by reassembling footage from popular films he downloads from the net. In the dystopian near-future Britain where Trent is growing up, this is more illegal than ever; the punishment for being caught three times is that your entire household’s access to the internet is cut off for a year, with no appeal. Trent’s too clever for that too happen. Except it does, and it nearly destroys his family. Shamed and shattered, Trent runs away to London, where he slowly he learns the ways of staying alive on the streets. This brings him in touch with a demimonde of artists and activists who are trying to fight a new bill that will criminalize even more harmless internet creativity, making felons of millions of British citizens at a stroke. Things look bad. Parliament is in power of a few wealthy media conglomerates. But the powers-that-be haven’t entirely reckoned with the power of a gripping movie to change people’s minds.
Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet
by Andrew Blum
When your Internet cable leaves your living room, where does it go? Almost everything about our day-to-day lives—and the broader scheme of human culture—can be found on the Internet. But what is it physically? And where is it really? Our mental map of the network is as blank as the map of the ocean that Columbus carried on his first Atlantic voyage. The Internet, its material nuts and bolts, is an unexplored territory. Until now.
In Tubes, journalist Andrew Blum goes inside the Internet’s physical infrastructure and flips on the lights, revealing an utterly fresh look at the online world we think we know. It is a shockingly tactile realm of unmarked compounds, populated by a special caste of engineer who pieces together our networks by hand; where glass fibers pulse with light and creaky telegraph buildings, tortuously rewired, become communication hubs once again.
This is a book about real places on the map: their sounds and smells, their storied pasts, their physical details, and the people who live there. For all the talk of the “placelessness” of our digital age, the Internet is as fixed in real, physical spaces as the railroad or telephone. You can map it and touch it, and you can visit it. Is the Internet in fact “a series of tubes” as Ted Stevens, the late senator from Alaska, once famously described it? How can we know the Internet’s possibilities if we don’t know its parts?
The Divinity of DogsTrue Stories of Miracles Inspired by Man’s Best…
by Jennifer Skiff
“My dogs have been the reason I have woken up every single day of my life with a smile on my face. I am among the ranks of millions of people who appreciate the souls of dogs and know they are a gift of pure love and an example of all that is good.” —Jennifer Skiff
The Divinity of Dogs is about the moments you learn something profound about life from an experience with a dog. Featuring more than seventy stories culled from hundreds of submissions to the author’s website, these inspiring and heartwarming true stories show where love, tolerance, comfort, compassion, loyalty, joyfulness, and even death have provided experiences that have led to spiritual enlightenment. You’ll meet Little Bit, the Chihuahua who detected a small lump in her owner’s breast, a growth even doctors couldn’t find. There’s Emma, the devoted Rottweiler who ferociously grabbed her owner’s arm at the moment he was trying to commit suicide, saving his life. You’ll be inspired by Luna, the Retriever who dragged her owner to safety after she collapsed late at night in a field. And you’ll fall in love with the many dogs who simply provide steady comfort when needed— dogs like Bo, the Boxer who soothed his mistress after the loss of her son. The author also weaves her own experiences with dogs throughout the book, showing how they comforted her through mistreatment as a child, a divorce, and a cancer diagnosis.