Tag Archives: teaching

Our Latest Book! Day One: Learning American Sign Language in 24 Hours

Our second American Sign Language book published in three weeks — Day One: Learning American Sign Language in 24 Hours written by Janna Sweenie and David Boles — is now available for purchase online as an eBook. You may read the book online, on your smartphone, tablet, computer or Kindle! You also get 150 free HD ASL videos for use with the book!  We invite you to join us in our ongoing effort to help propagate American Sign Language as a proper foreign language!

BUY NOW!

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The University as Hospital: An Inalienable Obligation

[Publisher's Note: Howard Stein, Boles Blogs author and inspiration, died at age of 90 on October 14, 2012 in Stamford, Connecticut. This article now appears in print as an equalizing effort to preserve Dr. Stein's teaching and thinking as David Boles shares this, and other works, from his private Prairie Voice archive. Howard wrote this article in the Spring of 1984 and, 30 years later, the lessons are still ripe and rich and damning.] 

For those suffering the wounds of life, the university has become a hospital.  For the woman in her middle forties whose husband has left her for “a young thing” after twenty-four years of marriage and four children, the university is the first thought where she may go for help.

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Education as an Abstraction: Teaching with Real Things

When teaching becomes an abstraction and not something real, the learning doesn’t stick in the student very well.  Imagination must first be grounded in a hard reality.

As we move closer into living in a 24/7 virtual world, it is important for all of us to keep in mind that learning is best fostered using real things, in real-time, in the same, real, room with each other getting real.  That is important in all human interactions, not just the classroom.  We’re always trying to learn from each other and doing it with real objects is a powerful experience that binds.

When you’re teaching about a flower — is it better to show a computer image of a flower, or hand out a flower printed on a piece of paper, or is it best to share a real flower plucked from a garden in your alive hand?

A real flower authentically engages every bodily sense and creates a sensation in the mind.

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Lost in Cultural Translation: Aesop’s Fables, Fairy Tales and Disney Movies

Every plan has a hole.  Every ship has a leak.  Every internet session is insecure.  These are the new universal writs of living in the new ancient world.  I learned that lesson in an especially troubling manner that forced me, in an instant, to reassess my role in the world as a Midwestern White Man teaching at-risk minority undergraduate students at a major New York City university.

I thought the assignment was simple and universally understood. I’d used a similar teaching plan at other universities with great success; but, in reflection, I realize most of those successes were found in mainstream classrooms with well-schooled students who were taught that learning was a priority in the home.

In my new teaching role in the inner city, many of these students working on a B.A. did not come from the same font of mandatory educational opportunities. They scraped by to earn understanding. They fought for what they grasped while others around them had learning handed to them.

There was a great divide of the mind and cultural experience that I quickly had to bridge or the entire end of the semester was at risk of failing, and the blame would solely be mine as the instructor for not being able to quickly re-adjust and move the field lines to be fair to my students so they could find success.

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On Yawning

Are you already yawning while reading this?

If you are speaking to someone — in a formal or informal setting — and they keep yawning in response, are you insulted that they are tired and not paying attention?  Or are you in some way complimented that someone is showing you the back of their throat?

For much of my life, I took a yawn from someone as an affront that I was somehow boring the point of my interest, and if a student dared to loudly yawn in class, that was of even more concern that I was losing the accrued interest of a topic I was divining to share.

Then I met a good, and ancient, friend, who happened to also be an excellent stage director — and professional theologian — who taught me my thinking was wrong.

A yawn is a compliment, he argued — a good thing — and you should work a room, and conversations, to get that open mouth staring back at you.

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