Tag Archives: book review


Lower Ed: A (Brief) Review

Lower Ed


Just in case you haven’t seen The New York Times review, her appearance on The Daily Show, the endorsement from Roxane Gay and Dr. Beverly Crusher (among many, many others), or one of her many other interviews, including a fantastic one here in The Chronicle, and remain unaware of of Tressie McMillan Cottom’s essential new book, Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy, let me add my voice to the chorus and say get this book right now and read it.

I really do hop…


College as Constant Restart: A Review of Practice for Life

rail station

Sometimes books arrive for review like a gift: a new book, on exactly the right topic, at exactly the right time. This summer, as I was preparing to teach a first-year seminar for the first time at my new school, and to teach anything at all for the first time in three years, I was delighted to receive Lee Cuba, Nancy Jennings, Suzanne Lovett, and Joseph Swingle’s new book, Practice for Life: Making Decisions in College (Harvard UP, August 2016), an intensive study of student experiences at sev…


Are You Fully Charged?

charging laptop

Tom Rath’s 2015 book, Are You Fully Charged? The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life, focuses on three areas that contribute to a daily experience of greater engagement, well-being, and productivity — what Rath calls being “fully charged.” These three areas are:

Meaning: doing something that benefits another person
Interactions: creating for more positive than negative moments
Energy: making choices that improve your mental and physical health

Throughout the numerous short chapters th…


Doing Focused Work in Distracted Times: Cal Newport’s Deep Work

Cat, staring intently

Although the book didn’t quite arrive in time for New Year’s resolutions (which are junk anyway), 2016 has already seen the publication of Cal Newport’s eagerly-awaited new title, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (Grand Central Publishing), which promises to offer research-driven guidelines for doing meaningful work. And it’s pretty successful at this goal!

Cal Newport is the prior author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work…


Learning How to Teach History in a Digital Age

Cover of Teaching History in a Digital AgeYou only have to read a few of Mills Kelly’s posts at his blog Edwired to pick up on his overarching argument: historians should pay as careful attention to scholarship on teaching as they do to the scholarship in their fields of research. There is a growing body of “Scholarship on Teaching and Learning,” demonstrating, for example, that lecturing is the least effective method of teaching. Kelly contends that historians “have remained stubbornly ignorant of the history of teaching and learning i…


When Enough Is (Good) Enough: A Review of ‘Professor Mommy’

Professor Mommy cover[This is a guest post by Aimee L. Pozorski, an associate professor of English at Central Connecticut State University. The president of the Philip Roth Society, her book on Roth and Trauma is just out with Continuum. Her prior ProfHacker posts focus on working with student veterans, responding to criticism and on creativity and academic research. Weirdly, she's not online at all.--@jbj]

I first returned to teaching in August of 2003, three months after my son was born. Distracted about leaving a…


Finding Focus Through Music: A Review of ‘Your Playlist Can Change Your Life’

Craig FinnAs part of our stated remit of “teaching, technology, and productivity,” ProfHacker has always been all about the music. In addition to one editor’s fierce, quixotic love of The Hold Steady, we’ve had posts about relocation playlists, open calls about “what’s on your iPod?”, theme-song soundtracks, the soundtrack of the semester, and more. Beyond the strict confines of the blog, one of my favorite things about Brian has been his mp3 of the week series, in which he shared a track with his friends–…


Elephants, Riders, and Paths: Motivating Students

Switch cover [This is a guest post by Meagan Rodgers, an assistant professor of English at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, where she teaches various writing classes and directs the writing center. You can find her online at meaganrodgers.com.--@jbj]

You’re in a field. You’re looking down a path. You’re riding an elephant.

This unlikely circumstance is the central metaphor that animates Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard (2010) by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, authors of the popu…


Dealing With Jerks on Campus


I almost never buy books at airports. Gum, yes. Skittles? Maybe. Coke Zero? Yes. Cinnabon? Certainly not. And most airport bookstores remind me of the Cinnabon line–they’re places where no one is happy.

(Disturbing true story: I was on the debate team as an undergrad, and so regularly had to fly to tournaments. I’m not crazy about heights, and as a callow undergrad, I was particularly anxious about flying. My mother called to offer the following suggestion: “When you get to the airport, go to t…


Want to Reach Students? Let Them Build Stuff

Prepping a FIRST robotJudging only from the title of Neal Bascomb’s fast-paced book, The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts, ProfHacker readers might think I’d made a mistake, and queued here a piece I’d written for GeekDad. And while I am writing about the book for that site too, I suspect that its appeal will be much broader. Anyone interested in secondary education in America, and in the kinds of students our schools produce, will find something of interest …