Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: June 11, 2021
What is this business we’re in – the business of education? John Dewey once said, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” For textbook and academic authors, I think we’d certainly agree. We live both to educate others and to continue our own education in our discipline. But how do we make education more than a tool or career and rather a lifestyle?
In this week’s collection of articles from around the web, we find advice on reading (and the process of doing so), on analyzing text content (specifically in digital and online formats), the post-pandemic state of publishing, examining reference lists, and supporting your writing efforts with mentors.
This week, I challenge you to grow in your academic writing efforts by learning something new. Think of your education as a component as natural as breathing rather than as a tool for your authoring efforts. Happy writing!
But what does it actually mean to read digitally? In 2018 I wrote “Dear Reader, Are You Reading?” about what we know about digital reading practices, and how that maps onto what we know about the history of reading practices generally. The short version is that we still know very little about the former, even by comparison with the latter–particularly in relation to how much time and money we are spending on these platforms and this kind of content delivery.
Many academic writers are avid readers. That’s because there is a strong connection – not causal, but surely correlated, she says hastily – between reading and writing. Reading and writing are mutually beneficial, they feed each other. I was thinking about the read-write connection just this morning as I sat reading the books section of the weekend newspaper.
The conversations and documents that people post online can illuminate many important issues of interest – from the workplace, education, business, health care, sports, entertainment, politics, and many other areas of interest to researchers. Your search for suitable textual material should begin wherever the people you plan to study are posting text. A general purpose social media site may be great for following the dynamics of political conversations, but if you’re interested in analyzing health care advice, you’ll have to look to more specialized sites.
The summer slide isn’t at any amusement park. It’s a well-documented phenomenon for elementary and secondary school pupils in the US, who experience backsliding in learning achievement during their months-long summer holidays. A landmark study published in the Review of Educational Research in 1996 documented that this summer loss equals about one month on a grade-level-equivalent scale. Twenty-five years later, and in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, teachers and parents fear an even more dramatic drop that some are already calling the COVID slide.
Four years ago, I wrote about the importance put on reference lists of published works. I explained that citations are the currency of scholarly communication and yet, editorial attention to the reference lists is not necessarily as comprehensive as these lists deserve. Since writing this post, several new tools have become available to further scrutinize the heavily produced and yet editorially ignored citations.
Last week, we talked about the critique leg of your writing support triangle. Critique support is great for those words-on-the-page writer problems. But we all know success in this industry isn’t just about words; it’s also about inspiration, motivation, and believing that your writing dreams really are achievable. If you’re lacking motivation and inspiration, it’s time to find some Writing Mentors.