I was asked by a colleague recently what I think is going to happen in the Fall. My answer was that I don’t even pretend to know.
There’s not too much overlap between my professional expertise and my opinions on our current situation, but there’s this: There is more uncertainty than you’d like to admit, but that doesn’t mean that you can say whatever you want. This holds both in general and in the present specifics.
In the first post reflecting on this wild semester, I discussed a class that went from face-to-face meetings to Zoom meetings. I turned my other class upside down completely.
Understanding Science, as it happens, is the only thing I’d ever taught on-line before. When I designed the course for Summer 2015, I faced up to some basic realities of the medium: Asynchronous interactions are best.
In the previous post, I lamented that most of the students didn’t use video in my seminar this semester. It came at a cost of making conversation and genuine interaction harder— and also of souring my own experience of the class meetings.
Commenters here and on Facebook consider the possibility of requiring or at least strongly encouraging students to turn on video.1 I think that adopting that kind of policy would be a mistake, at least for me. Here are some reasons why.
When I write a comment on Facebook or Twitter, I often start with one thing in mind but end up coming up with a different take half-way through. Either one would be nice and punchy, but I like them both. So I mash them up in a way that doesn’t effectively make either point.
I read an interview recently with a Buddhist priest who was (in 2007) living in New York City. I was taken with this bit:
I think the best appeal of New York is that you can experience many kinds of cultures and meet with many kinds of people from all over the world.
I’m totally Japanese and came from Japan so I stick to being a “100% pure Japanese” here in New York. I believe that is a real New Yorker. New Yorker and “Wannabe American” are totally different. I want to be a New Yorker.
I haven’t lived in NYC, but this general idea appeals to me deeply— not just as a conception of New York, but as a conception of America. Any national pride I feel is for that America, the country that allows people from all over to meet, to contribute, to make something new and wonderful without demanding that they check their differences on the way in.
I spent today attending the Doing Science in a Pluralistic Society Colloquium.1 Part of the event was an Author Meets Critics session for Matt Brown’s forthcoming book, Science and Moral Imagination. Matt’s project is framed by the doubt-belief model of enquiry which I’ve been blogging about recently.
A number of people question why I used the phrase “natural kinds” to describe what I’m talking about when I talk about categorization. My brief explanation runs something like this:
In giving an account of things, sometimes it’s possible to divide things up in pretty much any way and have it work out. Other times, we inherit or impose category schemes that make it hard or impossible to give a successful account. Still other times, our taxonomy especially allows for successful enquiry— that is, it works but proceeding with a substantially different taxonomy would not have. By natural kind I mean kinds that figure in the latter sort of taxonomy.