“Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”: Messages for College Teachers

“Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” by Dr. Beverly Tatum is not a new book – it was first published in 1997. However, as the dust of Ferguson settles, it is clear that its subject – understanding racial identity in America – is still critically important. The book, which I strongly recommend to all Americans, looks at what it means to live in a racist society, discusses the idea of privilege, explores the process of racial identity development, and seeks to understand how racial identity impacts the way that people interact in our society. While much of the book focuses on development of racial identity in children, there is also significant discussion of the role of race on the college campus (Dr. Tatum is a professor and college administrator). Continue reading

Book Review: “Building a Career in America’s Community Colleges”

If you’ve spent much time looking around my blog, you know that I am very interested in a career in college teaching. This interest has led me to look very closely at community colleges as a good option. I really like what I’ve seen so far – particularly the strong focus on teaching, small class sizes, and the mission of helping all students learn. However, my educational experiences thus far have all been at large research-focused state universities. This means that before I can make the case that I’m a good fit for a position at a community college, I need to learn more about how these institutions work and what it means to be a teacher at one.

As part of this learning process, I recently read “Building a Career in America’s Community Colleges,” by Rob Jenkins, a long-time community college faculty member and administrator. Continue reading

Book Review: “The Smartest Kids in the World”

“The Smartest Kids in the World,” by Amanda Ripley, is a highly engaging look at secondary education in Finland, South Korea, and Poland. The book was published in 2013 and generated quite a bit of buzz , due to its skillful comparison of the systems of these three educational high-achievers with that of the United States. Ripley skillfully combines a variety of statistics (primary compiled by the PISA exam) with a unique on-the-ground perspective provided by extensive interviews with three American exchange students, who each lived in one of the subject countries for a year. Many of her findings challenge key aspects of the U.S. high school experience: Continue reading

First Post: A review of “What the Best College Teachers Do”

“What the Best College Teachers Do,” by Ken Bain, is the result of a 15 year study of exceptional college teachers from around the United States. Bain and his colleagues identified outstanding teachers through a process that considered student evaluations, recommendations from other teachers, and in-person interviews and observations. Sixty-three teachers from a wide variety of disciplines and institutions were selected and their teaching practices and philosophies were studied in detail. This was accomplished through interviews with the professors and their students, observations of classes (and, in a few cases, entire courses), and analysis of student evaluations and performance.
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