You complete the world.

It seems staggering that the brand new mayor of NYC, Eric Adams, could use the words “low skilled workers” to describe anyone who works in his city.

I could walk for hours through Manhattan before seeing *anyone* whose work I could also do successfully.

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Joan Didion

Farewell, nonpareil, with some tears. Your clarity shocked, delighted, and taught me.

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More on rigour

Over at the Teaching and Learning Commons, my colleague Jennifer Hardwick places the concept of rigour in the context of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) :

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “rigour” as “the fact of being careful and paying great attention to detail” and “the fact of being strict or severe.” In universities, I think we often conflate the two definitions, striving for the first but implementing the second instead.

If we want our students to be rigorous — thoughtful, careful, critical, and detailed — in their thinking and in their scholarship, we don’t necessarily need to be strict or severe. Rather, we need to create opportunities for our students to attain, practice, and apply skills in multiple ways so that they are prepared to think deeply and engage critically and ethically in a variety of contexts and conditions. In this sense, flexibility, pedagogical care, and frameworks such as Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can actually expand rigour in a classroom. In fact, UDL practitioners have a term for the kind of rigorous students many of us a seek to develop: expert learners. CAST, the non-profit education organization that created UDL defines expert learners as “resourceful and knowledgeable, strategic and goal-directed, and purposeful and motivated.”

UDL encourages educators to develop expert learners by creating pathways through courses so that students have opportunities to consume, share, and engage with knowledge in multiple ways. In this sense, UDL isn’t about lowering standards; it’s about showing that there are often different ways to meet them. Not only does this approach reduce barriers to learning, it also helps students become self-aware learners who understand that they have a variety of methodologies, tools, and mediums at their disposal to solve problems and share information.

Hardwick’s entire discussion is admirably clear and very helpful.

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Heroines Revisited

I saw the first photographs from Lincoln Clarkes’ monumental series “Heroines” the day after his initial exhibition closed. That was the day I met Lincoln as well. The curator at Vancouver’s Helen Pitt Gallery hadn’t taken the show down yet, and Lincoln showed me around. We became friends almost right away, and the photographs in the show, and then others as he continued to shoot these portraits, were published in an ezine I edited at the time called Ellavon.

That was in July 1998. Several dozen of these photographs appeared in a small book published by Anvil Press in 2002.

Now the world can see a much more extensive collection of photographs from the series, in Heroines Revisited (also published by Anvil). It is an absolutely marvelous book, an important one, a series of humbling and heartbreaking revelations.

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Retraction Watch

A student recently alerted me to this splendid website and resource. It’s endlessly useful and interesting – a gift to researchers of all stripes, including students, teachers, scientists, and journalists.

Some praise:

“The seamier side of academia, lying, cheating and occasionally stealing, this is the world revealed by a blog which, by all rights, should be dry and boring, like its name, ‘Retraction Watch.’” — Fred Barbash in the Washington Post.

“…Retraction Watch is one of my favorite websites and I use it as a teaching tool in my Research Methods class.  While my goal has always been to not be mentioned on your site, I realize that, now as a journal editor, it very well may occur.” — Gary Miller, associate dean for research, Emory

“Check out the invaluable Retraction Watch, where two independent scholars, Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky, have done more to police scientific misconduct than have megabucks-funding institutions.” – ESPN’s Gregg Easterbrook

“There are lots of good science blogs, but I wonder how many of them make a difference. One that unquestionably does is Retraction Watch, run by Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky, which daily brings us astonishing (and depressing) news, to be found nowhere else, of malfeasance in science.” — Veteran science writer Tabitha Powledge, writing on PLOS Blogs.

Because I come from an editing and publishing background, I especially like stories about the back-and-forth’s between aggrieved publishers and their miscreant contributors.

There are many charming rabbit-holes on this website. Today’s favourite: Retraction Watch Database User Guide Appendix B: Reasons. There are more than a hundred: from “Author Unresponsive” (“Authors lack of communication after prior contact by Journal, Publisher or other original Authors”) to “Salami Slicing” (the “publication of several articles by using the same small dataset, but by breaking it into sections, with the intent of exploiting a limited data set for the production of several published works”).

Not all retractions result from unprofessional activity. Some articles are withdrawn “due to change in the Copyright/Ownership of the article,” and others are retracted because they’ve become out of date.

Sobering fact: In RetractionWatch’s list of the “10 Most Highly Cited Retracted Papers,” three have been cited more AFTER they were retracted than they were before – an “ongoing problem,” note the website editors, dryly.

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Rigour seems to mean two different practices: The thoroughgoing-ness of the curriculum (here rigour is expected of the professor in terms preparation *and delivery*) and the exactingness of assessment (where the onus is on the student, at the mercy of the teacher). When professors lag on the former, they sometimes believe they can make up for it in the latter. It’s unseemly when they do. (h/t JM)

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Bryan Garner

I’ve put Bryan Garner’s website on our list of essential resources. Garner is a stratospherically erudite lexicographer, writer, and lawyer – and teacher.

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Get smart

To welcome humbling moments is part of good mental hygiene. There is, at any rate, no way around these experiences when you teach social and digital media to university students. On that note: Here is another amazing Overdrive Interactive graphic; when I say “amazing,” I mean “as if you are in a maze.” You could easily get lost in here!

My marking marathons don’t kick in for a couple of weeks, so I have time to investigate sectors that are adjacent to mine (“lead scoring,” anyone?) and meet the many new neighbours on my own turf. (I know that this graphic has been out awhile already, but going through these lists is nonetheless a good way of getting back up to date; almost all of these platforms and companies are still active.)

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The Melville School of Business

My academic neighbourhood at Kwantlen Polytechnic University has a new name, after philanthropists George and Sylvia Melville gifted $8 million to the school. I am so pleased, particularly with the initiatives this gift will fund.

George Melville, cofounder of Boston Pizza International, served as Kwantlen’s second chancellor from 2010 to 2017. From the university release:

“This very generous gift will create tremendous opportunities for students and faculty, and will significantly enhance the reputation of both the business school and KPU,” says Dr. Alan Davis, president and vice-chancellor of KPU. “George Melville’s sterling reputation as a business leader, philanthropist and community builder will be a tremendous asset as we continue to shape exceptional entrepreneurs who graduate ready to work, willing to learn and poised to lead.”

The Melvilles’ donation includes:

$3 million to establish the Melville School of Business Advanced Teaching and Learning Technology Fund, which will provide students with the most up-to-date teaching technology and equipment used in business and industry;

$2 million to create the Melville School of Business Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will provide $100,000 in scholarships annually for undergraduate business students;

$1 million to establish the Melville School of Business Endowed Bursary Fund, which will provide $50,000 annually for bursaries for undergraduate business students.

This couple’s generosity will touch the lives of a lot of students I will have in future classes, making their lives better, their goals more in reach.

“George and Sylvia Melville are true community builders and have been champions of KPU for many years,” says Kelly Finlay, chair of the board of directors of the KPU Foundation, which raises funds to create quality, life-long learning opportunities for KPU students to achieve personal, social and career success. “Both their children attended KPU and their passion for this university comes from witnessing directly how big an impact this institution has on its students.”

“The gift from the Melvilles will not only elevate the reputation of our School of Business but will support advancements in leading-edge teaching and enrich the student learning experience,” says Stephanie Howes, dean of the Melville School of Business.

I am elated.

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Smart luck

Teena Seelig, a professor in management science and engineering at Stanford, has been studying “luck” for two decades, according to Diana Aguilera’s article in Stanford Magazine. The professor provides some superb, lucid recommendations. My favourite:

Show Appreciation. “When someone does something for you, they’re taking that time that they could be spending on themselves or someone else,” Seelig says. “And you need to acknowledge what they’re doing.” Being gracious, even when you’re turning down an offer of assistance, may bring more opportunities your way.

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