Book Notes & Thoughts: Where Good Ideas Come From

PhaseDiagram
From http://www.cliffsnotes.com/sciences/chemistry/chemistry/states-of-matter/phase-diagrams

I’m not sure what is more geeky: my favorite chemistry graph itself or the fact that I have one. But seriously, the phase diagram is so elegant! In one picture, it explains how temperature and pressure relate to the states of matter. The lines are phase transitions (like condensation, sublimation, and solidification), interesting edges for investigation to understand how the particles behave.

What does this have to do with my reading? Steven Johnson, in his book Where Good Ideas Come From, draws from many examples of innovation across history and across disciplines, many of which are from science, but in particular he uses the analogy of “liquid networks.” In a liquid, there is enough structure for particles to mix and combine but enough energy for them to move around and slide past each other whereas in a solid they would just be stuck in place and in a gas they would collide and fly away. In his analogy, the particles in a liquid social network are ideas and people.

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Beginning Teaching in Outdoor Education (or, How I was Inspired to Teach)

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Warning: This post is going to be a little more nostalgic and personal than usual maybe because I just cleaned out a box of letters and pictures from my childhood, maybe because I saw a former student who has since moved abroad and we compared notes about international schools and sports trips, or maybe because it is the beginning of another school year. Whatever the motivation, this reflection is part of understanding who I am as an educator.

When I graduated from college, I wanted as far away from academia as possible. I was tired, very tired, of memorization and tests that had sapped the joy out of learning. Now, I’m beginning my eighth year as a teacher, enthusiastic about learning, and am applying to graduate school. What? Continue reading “Beginning Teaching in Outdoor Education (or, How I was Inspired to Teach)”