As instructors and students take a break for winter break, journalists at EdSurge are also taking some time off from writing and editing in the last week of 2023.
As we catch our collective breath, we’re excited to bring you a few thoughts on the stories we’ve enjoyed over the past year. Here, find recommendations for articles, books, and podcasts that resonate with us—some related to education, others beyond. Enjoy!
I’m going to guess that being 13 is never easy. Organs change. Hormones change. Friends and interests change.
But the experience afforded to 13-year-olds today makes me absolutely grateful for my first year as a teenager. I had a very good one!
Nothing underscores this more than Jessica Bennett’s multimedia-heavy feature Being 13 , published in The New York Times in September. It deftly, deftly describes how kids these days — especially three girls in one year — are inundated with social media and all the other byproducts of carrying a little computer in your pocket everywhere you go.
Pairs well with the recent film adaptation of Judy Bloom’s 1970 (but timeless!) novel, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” will make you laugh, cry, and lighten the experience of being a girl today compared to 50 years ago.
Author John Green is best known for his young-adult novels, including the bestsellers The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska. I have read and loved them all. But I somehow missed his 2021 release of a new, different book – The Anthroposene Reviewed, a collection of personal, thoughtful, funny and profoundly human essays.
In each essay, Green examines an element or experience of being human today—the QWERTY keyboard, sunsets, Dr Pepper, Canadian geese—and then rates it with five stars.
The essays begin with mockery, but gradually become more serious and thoughtful. In a world where literally every experience—doctor’s appointments, national park visits, dry cleaning services—is reduced to five-star numbers, Greene takes the concept and turns it on its head.
I give The Anthropocene Review five stars.
Read more from Emily here.
While it’s not strictly about education, I’ve become a bigger fan of the Hidden Brain podcast this year, which explores the science we care about. I was particularly struck by the show’s two-part series, The Paradox of Pleasure, which examines the challenges of combating the addictive allure of the internet and other technology.
I read and learned a lot from more Substack newsletters on education this year as well, including Derek Newton’s The Cheat Sheet on academic integrity; Mile Markers on rural higher education by Nick Fouriezos; and Ethan Mollick’s One Useful Thing , which contains many occasional nuggets about AI in education.
The book I read this year was “Tomorrow, Tomorrow and Tomorrow” by Gabrielle Zevin. The novel tells the coming-of-age story of three friends who set up a video game design company. Like Ready Player One, it’s full of pop culture references from the early days of computers and digital culture, which made me nostalgic for a simpler, more optimistic time of technology. But Zevi’s book is also an extraordinary exploration of friendship, love, and how they can intertwine in a co-creative act. Although the author says he didn’t know much about the world of video games when he started the project, you’d never know how spot-on his references are (speaking as someone who’s eager to play the games he describes). ). And the fact that the world of technology was new to him seemed to help bring a new perspective to it, which inspired me to think about how we got to the technology-infused culture we all live in now.
Read more from Jeff here.
For those who don’t fit the cliché box, getting the education you’re owed has always been difficult. It comes out in all kinds of ways.
That’s why Sarah Carr’s piece on the consequences of faulty dyslexia screening had such a powerful impact on me. Carr argues that changing the way dyslexia is diagnosed—which Carr criticizes the “discrepancy model” that compares IQ to reading scores—could help improve the reading achievement of many students. This, of course, would improve their lives.
Woody Guthrie, a tall and often painful man, composed America’s unofficial national anthem, “This Land Is Your Land.” Despite this, Guthrie is relatively underappreciated, although his influence on other brand songwriters from older generations, notably Bob Dylan, continues to be noted. Even the final stanzas of Guthrie’s unauthorized anthem are cut, depriving the song of its political message and changing its meaning.
This summer, I decided to give Guthrie’s biography, Bound for Fame, a try. It is full of strange stories of a man who spent his life riding on rails. He knew better than anyone what was about to fall, but his heart never stopped singing, “There’s a better world to come / I’ll tell you why.”
Read more from Daniel here.
I interviewed Jen Manly in person this summer and have been following her Strategic Classroom Instagram account ever since. (We had a great chat about why group work is terrible and how to fix it, so check out the Q&A if you haven’t already.)
Manly is a college teacher, educational consultant and former computer science teacher. While I’m not a teacher, I enjoy watching his videos on all topics – some recent uploads discuss allowing students to redo assignments and blocking planning cycle time.
Accounts like Manly’s are a great way to understand what teachers think about on a day-to-day basis, but it can also be something actually practical for you (okay, yes, I really need time management strategies. puts it).
If you’re in need of something uplifting or a good cry, pull up whatever streaming service you subscribe to and add 2023’s Radical, starring Eugenio Derbez, to your queue.
The film is based on the real-life story of Sergio Juárez Correa, a teacher and his students at one of Mexico’s worst-performing elementary schools in Brownsville, a stone’s throw from SpaceX on the Rio Grande, bordering Texas.
Juárez Correa is a passionate educator who believes that instilling a love of learning begins with allowing students to follow their interests and essentially guides the classroom. Spoiler: The principal and other adults aren’t too impressed with his approach.
His young students in an impoverished community struggle with their own battles, whether it’s facing pressure to join a neighborhood drug gang or being an extreme parent. Then there’s Paloma, who lives in a shack next to a dump where her father collects scraps to sell.
In my favorite scene, Paloma shows her classmate Nico a telescope she made out of trash near her house, and they climb a mountain of trash to use it to look at the SpaceX launch pad being built across the river in Brownsville. , Texas. He wants to be an aerospace engineer. Later in the film, Paloma’s father confronts teacher Juarez Correa over a brochure for NASA Space Camp and asks the teacher if he will be there for her when reality hits and her dream is shattered.
The end is a must see. I was lucky enough to be the only one in the theater when I saw Radical, so there was no one to judge the absolute tears I cried (except for a teenage employee who picked up my empty popcorn bucket on my way out). But there will be no such problem at home!
The real-life Paloma was featured on the cover of the 2013 issue of Wired magazine, which inspired the film, with the headline “The Next Steve Jobs.” The online version is called “The Radical Way to Uncover a Generation of Geniuses.” Do you see what they did there?
Read more about Nadia.
This year, I was fascinated by The Washington Post’s series on the rise of homeschooling in the United States. Analysis of the newspaper’s data shows that this form of education is developing rapidly among different family groups compared to previous years. Parents aren’t the only ones homeschooling their kids these days; now enterprising people and companies are instructing pods of children in various settings. While some families say their children are safer, more comfortable, or able to learn better outside of the public and private school systems, there are dangers associated with this largely unregulated form of education, such as children being bullied out of sight. The series also explores the experiences of parents who grew up homeschooled and are now re-entering the public school system, seeking a different education for their children.
Being surprised by a great book is my favorite feeling. This year I read Sanora Babb’s novel, Whose Names Are Not Known, about the collapse of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.
Some scholars claim that this work of literature should not have been a revelation to me or to other readers. As the Great Depression was winding down, an editor at Random House was excited to publish journalist Babb’s novel based on his experiences working with refugee farmers in government camps in California. But then – a writer’s nightmare – it’s no less than John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Thus, Babb’s book was not published until 2004.
Babb’s depictions of farm family life strained by isolation and dwindling finances and the spare beauty of the Oklahoma plains drew me in at first, while the characters’ growing class consciousness kept me turning the pages as the plot darkened.
Read more from Rebecca.