A language-learning application that teaches high-frequency grammar and vocabulary in context one sentence at a time using real sentences from the news.

Recommended resources for first-year (1L) law students

After my 1L year of law school, I put together the following list of books and other resources I found helpful: (* = essential/most valuable) General: Richard M. Fischl and Jeremy Paul, Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams* Dennis J. Tonsing, 1000 Days to the Bar, but the Practice of Law Begins Now* Ward Farnsworth, The Legal Analyst: A Toolkit for Thinking About the Law Steven Emanuel, Steve Emanuel’s First Year Questions and Answers Randy Barnett, The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law LexisNexis Area of Law Outlines Black’s Law Dictionary - iPhone app version Legal Writing: Brian Garner, Legal Writing in Plain English* Ross Guberman, Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation’s Top Legal Advocates* Civil Procedure: Richard Freer, Law School Legends: Civil Procedure (audio)* Richard Freer, Civil Procedure Joseph Glannon, Civil Procedure: Examples and Explanations Arthur R.

Inflated claims about language learning

I recently posted about the trend of “productivity gurus and marketers” making inflated claims about how much people can learn or otherwise accomplish in a short time. This trend is particularly common in the domain of language learning. Language-learning apps routinely make absurd promises of fluency in their marketing materials. This spreads the notion that learning a language is (or ought to be) quick and easy. If that is what people expect, they are likely to be disappointed and give up language-learning when it turns out to be neither quick nor easy.

Productivity gurus and impossible goals

We live in the age of the “productivity guru.” A productivity guru is someone who advertises his or her own productivity and suggests that others can achieve similar results. I enjoy the books and other content produced by some people who can be characterized as productivity gurus—Cal Newport, David Allen, Tim Ferriss, and Marie Kondo, for example. But they have thousands of imitators, and for many of these, the core of their brand is exaggeration: exaggeration of what they have accomplished and of what you, the consumer, can accomplish by following their lead.

Wide Awake Minds

A resource for educators, self-educators, polymaths, and all who love to teach, read, think, and learn.

Discussing the Libya War on 'Russia Today'

I appeared on Russia Today (RT) yesterday to discuss the U.S./NATO intervention in Libya as well as the situation in Syria - feel free to check it out if you are interested: My related article, “Rolling the Dice in Libya,” appeared on yesterday. Another, unrelated op-ed of mine appeared yesterday as well in the Michigan Education Report: “National standards will stifle innovation.” In it, I argue that “strict standards risk forcing students and teachers alike into a curricular straitjacket, alienating creative teachers and sapping the motivation of students.

Recent posts on education at Wide Awake Minds

A few of my recent posts at Wide Awake Minds, in case you missed them: -A few of the things you can do in a great university, in which I argue that if students want to make the most of their school years in general and their college years in particular, they must take ownership of their education and elect to do what is difficult. I propose a few of the ways in which college students can do so.

2008 Reading Recommendations

Happy New Year! At the end of each of the past three years, I’ve written a post listing the best books I’ve read over the course of the year in order to bring these books to the attention of others. As usual, I’ve put the titles of the five books most important to me this year in bold, and I’ve linked each book to its page. Enjoy! Arons, Compelling Belief: The Future of American Schooling(education/religion/politics) Doniger, The Implied Spider: Politics and Theology in Myth (religion / mythology) Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk (history / politics) Frank, Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class (economics / politics) Frankel, Faith and Freedom: Religious Liberty in America (religion / politics / law)Gibran, The Prophet (2nd reading; philosophy / religion) Hamsun, Dreamers (literature)Harrison, Returning to Earth(literature) Harrison, True North (literature) Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea (2nd reading; literature) Kerouac, The Dharma Bums (literature)Laxness, Independent People(literature) Mann, The Magic Mountain(literature) Milosz, Native Realm: A Search for Self-Definition(memoirs / literature / history) Putney & Putney, The Adjusted American: Normal Neurosis in the Individual and Society (psychology) Salomon & Valdez, Little House on a Small Planet (design / environment) Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars (3rd reading; politics / international relations)

Quotes from Alfie Kohn and Virginia Woolf

There are many reasons policymakers seek to impose detailed curriculum mandates. They may fundamentally distrust educators: Much of the current standards movement is just the latest episdoe in a long, sorry history of trying to create a teacher-proof curriculum. … These days almost anything can be done to students and to schools, no matter how ill-considered, as long as it is done in the name of raising standards. … It’s convenient for us to assume that kids who cut corners are just being lazy, because then it’s the kids who have to be fixed.

The Nuclear Peace and its Consequences for China's Rise

I just put the finishing touches on my M.A. thesis, bringing one of the most stressful months of my life to a satisfying close. 10,181 words, 45 pages, three entirely different drafts, and an ungodly amount of writing and revision. I am happy with the finished product and will turn it in tomorrow morning, then post a link to it online. My faculty advisor was John Mearsheimer, the best professor I’ve had at the U of C and one of the most influential international relations scholars in America.

Recent readings on Iraq, myth, politics and more

Two must-reads on current events: -David Brooks on the Obama-Clinton race. -”Bush’s War,” a PBS Frontline documentary with extraordinary cinematography and interviews with key players involved in the political decisions surrounding the invasion and occupation of Iraq. I highly recommend watching it (it’s free online), or at least poking around the website a bit. The site includes an annotated video timeline and transcripts from over 400 interviews. “Biography, psychology, sociology, history,” (historian John Demos) has written: “four corners of one scholar’s compass, four viewpoints overlooking a single field of past experience.

Readings from Mann, Golley, and Eliot

-Must-read: the New York Times on a severe case of protracted bullying. This is real, and it’s an enormous problem. There is a spectrum of school violence ranging from verbal harassment and bullying all the way to school shootings, and it needs to be taken more seriously and addressed more quickly at every stage. An atmosphere of security and mutual respect in classrooms is essential to students’ well-being and ability to learn.

Quotes from Hermann Hesse's 'Beneath the Wheel'

Mathematics, as far as he was concerned, was a Sphinx charged with deceitful puzzles whose cold malicious gaze transfixed her victims, and he gave the monster a wide berth. … What would many happy citizens and trustworthy officials have become but unruly, stormy innovators and dreamers of useless dreams, if not for the effort of their schools? In young beings there is something wild, ungovernable, uncultured which first has to be tamed.

Quotes from recent reading: Robert Jackson, Nate Shaw

Struggles to coerce uniformity of sentiment in support of some end thought essentially to their time and country have been waged by many good, as well as by evil, men. …Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard. Justice Robert Jackson, writing for the U.S. Supreme Court –West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943)

Quotes from Hamsun, Du Bois, and Salomon

-Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Honest and earnest criticism from those whose interests are most nearly touched - criticism of writers by readers, of government by those governed, of leaders by those led - this is the soul of democracy and the safeguard of modern society. … In fact the burden belongs to the nation, and the hands of none of us are clean if we bend not our energies to righting these wrongs.

Quotes from Dewey, Hoyt, and Freud

The achievements of the past provide the only means at command for understanding the present. …The institutions and customs that exist in the present and that give rise to present social ills and dislocations did not arise overnight. They have a long history behind them. Attempt to deal with them simply on the basis of what is obvious in the present is bound to result in adoption of superficial measures which in the end will only render existing problems more acute and more difficult to solve.

The case for a School of Education at the University of Chicago

Today’s unsigned editorial in the Chicago Maroon: The University of Chicago is often referred to as the “Teacher of Teachers.” U of C graduates tend to go into academia at much higher rates than do those at peer schools, and many of the ideas associated with the University—the “Life of the Mind,” “Chicago Math,” and “progressive education,” for example—are directly relevant to the challenges faced by America’s K–12 schools. Having benefited from a great education, many Chicago students would appreciate the opportunity to introduce the next generation of students to the world of ideas.

Mortimer J. Adler on war and peace

“Our view of war, then, must be broadened to include both armed conflict and battles of diplomacy, economic aid, and propaganda. War is war, whether it is “hot” or “cold.” The struggle for power and prestige among the nations goes on all the time. Only the means vary, and whether these be armed force or diplomatic pressure or other nonviolent means depends on the occasion. It follows, then, that peace is not merely a negative thing - the absence of armed conflict.

Four quotes from recent reading

“Tell me one last thing,” said Harry. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?” … “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” -J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Secular nationalism of the sort Fatah stood for is coming to look like the weak force and radical Islam like the strong force.

Great quotes on education and business

After all, I got into teaching for the same reason, I suspect, that many people did: because I thought it was a high-stakes affair, a pursuit in which souls are won and lost. … One of the ways we’ve tried to be attractive is by loosening up. We grade much more genially than our colleagues in the sciences. In English and history, we don’t give many D’s, or C’s, either. (The rigors of Chem 101 may create almost as many humanities majors per year as the splendors of Shakespeare.