Saturday, February 6, 2010

February 6

This article in The Chronicle of Higher Education is, like many such lately, very skeptical about multi-tasking:

I am struck by the comments of University of Michigan psychology professor David E. Meyer, with which I am in complete accord (my bolding):

"I'm teaching a class of first-year students," says David E. Meyer, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. "This might well have been the very first class they walked into in their college careers. I handed out a sheet that said, 'Thou shalt have no electronic devices in the classroom.' ... I don't want to see students with their computers out, because you know they're surfing the Web. I don't want to see them taking notes. I want to see them paying attention to me."

Wait a minute. No notes? Does that include pen-and-paper note-taking?

"Yes, I don't want that going on either," Meyer says. "I think with the media that are now available, it makes more sense for the professor to distribute the material that seems absolutely crucial either after the fact or before the fact. Or you can record the lecture and make that available for the students to review. If you want to create the best environment for learning, I think it's best to have students listening to you and to each other in a rapt fashion. If they start taking notes, they're going to miss something you say."

If you are feeling a little less knowledgeable than you would like to be about the new Thai cinema, this should correct the deficiency:

Or how about some recent offerings from the Canadian independent cinema?

Charles Petersen at the New York Review of Books provides a fascinating account of the growth of Facebook, MySpace, and social networking. Despite several invitations, I refuse to go on Facebook, as the potential for cyber-mishap seems great; and Petersen's essay does nothing to dissuade me from that view.

Here's a place that I would sort of like to visit, except maybe not, because darn it's cold -- Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city on earth. (Puerto Williams, Chile, contests the title, but is a mere military village.)

Among notables born on this date are singers Bob Marley and Kate McGarrigle (departed from us just a few days ago), Austrian sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (recently mentioned in these entries), novelists Jose Maria de Pereda (Spain) and Pramoedya Ananta Toer (Indonesia), poets Ugo Foscolo (Italy) and Dzore Drzic (Croatia), lexicographer Eric Partidge, President Ronald Reagan, film directors Francois Truffaut and Jim Sheridan, cinematographer Haskell Wexler, baseball great Babe Ruth, broadcaster Tom Brokaw, theatrical actor-manager Sir Henry Irving, composer Henry Charles Litolff, Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau, and actors Ramon Novarro, Patrick Macnee, and Rip Torn. The interview volume Conversations with Arrau reveals an artist of incredibly wide cultivation in all arts and intellectual endeavors, not just music, and a delightful personality as well.