Reading Round Up, September 23, 2016

Most of my reading this week has focused on Black Lives Matter, police brutality, and protests. I’m working on a special Reading Round Up just on those topics. For now, though, here’s the rest of what I’ve been reading this week.

Chelsea Fagan blogs about her experience with money at The Financial Diet (a title I dislike, but that’s another story). I don’t see the two of us having much in common, which makes me appreciate her insight into why gender expectations for women and the need for money to support them even more. She writes:

I used to think that all of the things I wanted as a woman — cooking dinner each night, traveling, having children and a career at the same time, living in a well-appointed home that I loved being in — were simply lifestyle choices, and that being budget-savvy would be my way to get them without ever seeing a particularly high number on a paycheck. But what I’ve learned since starting TFD is that it’s quite the opposite: the version of all of these things that I had in my head were put there and maintained by women who were rich enough to pursue them as a life choice.

3% of Americans own half the nation’s guns—which is interesting, but not as interesting as the fact that the rest of the guns are spread so thinly, with many, many people owning just one or two. Researchers find that “self-protection” is the primary reason this one-gun owners own a handgun—even though the US is, overall, safer than it’s ever been. Researchers are still working on figuring out why Americans are so fearful of each other.

But I do need to give credit to off-duty officer and former police chief Jason Falconer for intervening in a mass stabbing in a St. Cloud, Minnesota shopping mall.  Notably, Falconer wasn’t just some “good guy with a gun” who had little to no fire arms training toting a gun through the mall, as so many states now allow; he owns and teaches at Tactical Advantage, a firearms training company, where he focuses on “reality-based” training.

Student evaluations of teachers and courses are a total waste of time, money, and effort, and can serve to further discrimination based on gender and race, which we’ve known for ages. Maybe this new study, plainly titled “Meta-analysis of faculty’s teaching effectiveness: Student evaluation of teaching ratings and student learning are not related,” will inspire administrators to get rid of them. But I doubt it. The university’s continued reliance on student evaluations of faculty performance despite a landfill’s worth of evidence against them is evidence that higher ed doesn’t respect its own work.

Every time a higher ed administrator said the word “entrepreneurial” and “ROI,” my soul dies a little. William Deresiewicz explains why in “The Neoliberal Arts: How College Sold Itself to the Market” in Harpers.

On my reading wish list this week: 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad, The History of Religion in 5 ½ Objects: Bringing the Spiritual to Its Senses by S. Brent Plate, and An Anxious Age: The Post-Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of America by Joseph Bottum.

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