Author Archives: Kate Stover

“I want to show you the world, as it is all around us, all the time.”

How does Karl Ove Knausgaard’s collection of letters for his unborn daughter compare to Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me? All three are beautiful explorations of ideas; all are meant to guide, … Continue reading

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“After all, what can a first impression tell us about someone we’ve just met for a minute in the lobby of a hotel?”

Amor Towles, author of A Gentleman in Moscow, continues: “Why, no more than a chord can tell us about Beethoven, or a brushstroke about Botticelli.” If you, like me, would like a break from the disasters and tragedies surrounding us, … Continue reading

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“When McGraw-Hill Education polled more than 600 college faculty in 2017, 70% said students were less willing to ask questions and participate in class than they were five years ago.”

I’m with the 70%. At some point in every class, I say, “What questions do you have about this?” Seldom do students respond. However, if that same question is included in a quiz, about a third ask for more information … Continue reading

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“Science needs its adventurers.”

It’s hard to imagine a more exciting scientific adventure than the one described in Altered Traits.  Forty years ago, when Ritchie Davidson and Daniel Goleman were grad students, their advisors told them that studying meditation would be a career-killer. But … Continue reading

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“Rock and roll when first encountered seemed to represent two fears: a fear of the future and a fear of the past.”

Some feared, Christopher Hill notes, that this new kind of music had the power to lead Americans to radical decadence in the not-too-distant future. Others, who had experienced gospel music, recognized “the testifying quality, the clear sense that there were … Continue reading

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“Our challenge as culturally responsive teachers is knowing how to create an environment that the brain perceives as safe so it can . . . turn its attention to learning.”

Most often, “culturally responsive teaching” focuses on students of color and students who are linguistically diverse.  After reading iGen by Jean Twenge, however, I would argue that students born between 1995 and 2012 have unique cultural characteristics that we need … Continue reading

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“The surprising result of this research was that self-transcendent purpose produced the strongest driver for students to persist through challenging academic tasks.”

Jim Lang’s wonderful book Small Teaching was the first one I reached for after finishing the profoundly disturbing book iGen last week, which described in precise, scientific terms the characteristics of many of the students who are entering our classrooms … Continue reading

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“In 2016, for the first time, the majority of entering college students described their mental health as below average.”

If you teach college students, stop what you are doing and get your hands on this book. The data collected here will change how you see the people who sit in front of you. Twenge argues that the generation born … Continue reading

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“We cross from memory into imagination with only a vague awareness of change.”

What are the connections between memory and imagination? Is separateness only an illusion?  These are the two questions that Simon Van Booy explores in this beautiful book.  Readers aren’t handed the answers.  Rather, bits and pieces of the lives of … Continue reading

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“Students rated sociability (e.g., friendliness, warmth) as significantly more important than did faculty.”

A 2014 study by Megan Gerhardt evaluated how instructors and students ranked contributors to teaching credibility. While everyone agreed that competence in subject matter and character are most important, students noted a desire for sociability that “has important implications for … Continue reading

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“He didn’t fit in.”

Even though he was wealthy and influential, Charles Dickens didn’t fit into middle-class life in Victorian England for many reasons. Here are three: He made fun of “society” people in his novels. Instead of writing anonymously, as the other novelists … Continue reading

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“There is a great deal of poetry written and published today that turns its back (sometimes with apparent disdain) upon the reader.”

Who is poetry for?  What is its purpose?  If you like fist fights and barroom brawls, go ahead and ask poets and professors these questions.  You’ll see two sides emerge: One will agree with “the noted American poet” who said … Continue reading

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“Who is it you are writing for? It surely could not be the average person who just enjoys a good read.”

The reader who asked Jonathan Franzen this question touched a nerve. Franzen’s answer — a 30-page essay titled “Mr. Difficult” — describes two models for relationships between writers and readers. In the “Status” model, writers aim to create great art, … Continue reading

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“There are many of us who need to reprocess our garbage, but who can’t bear the idea of writing memoir . . .”

Jessica Lourey continues: “. . . whether it’s because we are too close to the trauma, don’t want to hurt or be hurt by those we’re writing about, or simply prefer the vehicle of fiction.” Students in my classes on … Continue reading

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“The pupils formed in line and buzzingly passed a ragged book from hand to hand.”

What?  Only one book for all the students to pass around?  In England? In many of his novels, Charles Dickens describes how difficult it was for ordinary families to get any sort of education. In Great Expectations, Pip’s family had … Continue reading

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