Readers are the Best People (and Lovers), Science Says

There’s been a lot of studies recently talking about how “deep reading” of good literature has many benefits in terms of emotional intelligence. An recent article, “Why Readers, Scientifically, Are the Best People to Fall in Love With” outlines some of this work:

According to both 2006 and 2009 studies published by Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University in Canada, and Keith Oatley, a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, those who read fiction are capable of the most empathy and “theory of mind,” which is the ability to hold opinions, beliefs and interests apart from their own.

They can entertain other ideas, without rejecting them and still retain their own. While this is supposed to be an innate trait in all humans, it requires varying levels of social experiences to bring into fruition and probably the reason your last partner was such a narcissist.

Did you ever see your ex with a book? Did you ever talk about books? If you didn’t, maybe you should think about changing your type.

It’s no surprise that readers are better people. Having experienced someone else’s life through abstract eyes, they’ve learned what it’s like to leave their bodies and see the world through other frames of reference.

Since relationships require understanding another’s perspective and recognizing their existence independent from your own, people who read good books – the one’s that get us to feel what it’s like to be another person – have, through reading, learned, in effect, to be better partners.

According to Psychologist David Comer Kidd, at the New School for Social Research, “What great writers do is to turn you into the writer. In literary fiction, the incompleteness of the characters turns your mind to trying to understand the minds of others.”

This is proved over and over again, the more people take to reading. Their ability to connect with characters they haven’t met makes their understanding of the people around them much easier.

They have the capacity for empathy. They may not always agree with you, but they will try to see things from your point of view.

Do y0ur partner a favor and read a good book!

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Filed under Education, On Being Human, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, Reading & Literacy

Friday Quote

Don’t ever write anything you don’t like yourself and if you do like it, don’t take anyone’s advice about changing it. They just don’t know.

-Raymond Chandler


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Reflections on the Second Year of Librarianship (Guest Post by Sarah Bankston)

Dani and Kevin have both written posts regarding their first years in the profession that could have been cribbed from notes from my first year, had I the gumption and wherewithal to start a fantastic and thought-provoking blog. But I didn’t so here you have my reflections on Year Two, hijacking space on a blog created by two librarians I admire who did!


Reflections: Source.

 On (Keeping) My First Real Librarian Job

Now that I’m two years in, I am thinking more seriously about my upcoming third year review. Thankfully I was given a lot of good mentoring in graduate school, and good guidance in my job, so I’ve been building a body of scholarly and professional activities that will speak to my engagement as a librarian. However. The anxiety creeps in: I went to a national conference, but didn’t present. I presented at a local conference after my first year…but not in my second. Did I do enough my second year? And to all that noise I need to just say SHHHH. The only librarian shushing I condone.

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Filed under Education, Guest Posts, Library Instruction, On Being Human, The Library Game

How Hard Work Pays Off in Learning: Insights from John Calipari’s Philosophy of Education

I’ve got a new piece up at Ethos: A Digitial Review of Arts, Humanities, & Public Ethics  that I think might be of interest to Rule Number One readers. As an educator I was intrigued with the way University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari teaches his players to learn how to learn on the court, so I wrote a bit about how we as educators (whether it’s as librarians or full-time classroom lecturers) can apply these lessons in our teaching.


John Calipari: Source

Here’s a couple key excerpts:

Calipari makes th[e] point in relation to basketball, writing “you can improve individual skills if you’re willing to spend time. It’s almost guaranteed … “If you’ve got talent inside you, it’s fully within you power to nurture it. Almost every kid I bring in has NBA-caliber athleticism. More than anything, that’s what I try to get across to them: You control your own destiny. It’s up to you.” This point about our destinies, the deeply existential notion that “[t]alent is not the determining thing; grit is,” (or, as Sartre might have put it, you are your choices) struck me … as a deeply profound and hopeful fact about human existence. There’s no real master secret to success; it just takes a little bit of luck, and a whole lot of grindin’.

This fact of the court applies equally to the classroom. According to educational psychologist Daniel Willingham, “as far as anyone knows, the only way to develop mental facility is to repeat the target process again and again and again.” It’s not sexy; it’s just what actually seems to work. If you practice something, you’ll get better at it. Interestingly, a recent Hoop Magazine story on Lebron James—widely considered to be the greatest athlete not just the NBA but in all of sports —notes that it’s Lebron’s work ethic, not his physical gifts, that make him truly special. A survey of NBA players and commentators bears out this point consistently. For example, Brian Windhorst states,

“He has tremendous physical gifts. He was already an elite specimen and could have been very successful and wealthy on just those gifts. He made an early decision to take what he had and work very, very hard …he kept working on his skills and his body to take that immense talent and become the greatest at his craft. That’s what sets him apart because he combines his skills and talent with his work ethic to become an elite player in every way.”

[…] Seen in this light, Lebron’s Nike slogan “earned not given” becomes a robust statement of educational philosophy rather than simply another meaningless sports cliché. We’ve been taught, to borrow another Nike slogan, to want to “be like Mike”, yet, many students, myself included, fail to understand that being like Michael Jordan doesn’t just mean flying through the air or hitting game winning shots, it means loving the grind like a champion (Imagine how good you’d be at math if you practiced it four hours a day). We need to want not just the gold star, but also the work that it takes to get it.

I suspect that I may not be the only student to have entered a classroom with a fixed mindset and consider myself lucky to have gained some knowledge I’ve used to correct that. More troubling, though, is my suspicion that I’m not the only person who’s ever been a teacher entering the classroom with a fixed-mindset about student learning. I recall, for example, when taking piano lessons later in life, telling my teacher that I felt like I wasn’t very good at keeping time, and her saying “Oh, that’s probably something someone told you when you were young and you believed it. You work hard at it and you do great.” She was right. How many times over the years did I encourage a similar mindset in my own students? How many students told me they just didn’t “get” philosophy and I kind of maybe just believed them?  (“Oh, that’s okay, philosophy just makes sense to me, but I could never be good at engineering like you are!”). Very rarely did I explicitly make an effort with students who were struggling to encourage them that it was hard work and deliberate practice, more than “being smart,” that would help them succeed.

Making these facts about how to learn explicit to our students (as, perhaps, a consistent meta-narrative of our classrooms) is something educators must begin to do in order to help students, including college students, succeed …

You can read the rest of the post over at Ethos Review.

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Filed under Education, Library Instruction, On Being Human, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel

Cognitive Psychology and Information Literacy Webinar Video

A recording of the recent webinar Dani & I gave on the topic of “How Do Our Students Learn?: A Cognitive Psychological Model for Information Literacy Instruction” for EasyBib is now available on YouTube. Interested parties can check it out below!

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Friday Quote

A man once asked me … how I managed in my books to write such natural conversation between men when they were by themselves. Was I, by any chance, a member of a large, mixed family with a lot of male friends? I replied that, on the contrary, I was an only child and had practically never seen or spoken to any men of my own age till I was about twenty-five. “Well,” said the man, “I shouldn’t have expected a woman (meaning me) to have been able to make it so convincing.” I replied that I had coped with this difficult problem by making my men talk, as far as possible, like ordinary human beings. This aspect of the matter seemed to surprise the other speaker; he said no more, but took it away to chew it over. One of these days it may quite likely occur to him that women, as well as men, when left to themselves, talk very much like human beings also.

-Dorothy L. Sayers, Are Women Human?

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Filed under Posts by Dani Brecher, Quotes

“Authentic Engagement” and Information Literacy

My article “Authentic Engagement: Assessing the Effects of Authenticity on Student Engagement and Information Literacy in Academic Library Instruction”  was published today in Reference Services Review.

From the intro:

This study measures the impact of authenticity – the operation of one’s true self in one’s daily life – on student engagement and learning during information literacy instruction for English 105 classes at the R.B. House Undergraduate Library at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Kernis, 2003, p. 13; Kernis and Goldman, 2006, p. 294). The aim of the study was to empirically assess whether authenticity made a significant difference on student engagement and information literacy when students were at the stage in the research process of choosing topics for their research papers. The research hypothesis of the study was that if students developed research questions that represented aspects of their true self, it would lead to (a) increased engagement with their project, and (b) increased learning compared to students who chose more generic topics – because their research, driven by the core human value of authenticity, would be meaningful and personally significant (Rogers 1969; 1974; Klipfel 2013).

If successful, these results would be highly significant. The study would be the first to provide empirical evidence demonstrating the positive impact of authenticity on student engagement and information literacy in academic library instruction. One practical implication of this study is that it would give librarians reason to use the modeling exercise more widely as a way to facilitate student engagement with research in their libraries. The results could also be used to demonstrate the value of information literacy instruction to faculty. Librarians could use this approach of authentically engaging with students as a major selling point for their information literacy and instructional programs. Furthermore, the results would also illustrate, more generally, the potential academic librarians have to bring about meaningful, transformative educational change in their students. Rather than simply helping students find resources for their research, there would be reason to believe that librarians can also play a major role in determining the content students choose to write about; the extent to which they care about their schoolwork; and the degree to which they learn. Such an outcome would have the potential to radically expand our concept of the librarian’s pedagogical role in academic libraries.

From the conclusion:

The results of this study provide the first empirical data illustrating the importance of authenticity as it relates to student engagement and learning in the context of information literacy education. Instruction librarians can help students (a) develop authentic research questions and (b) find information related to their authentic interests in one-shot information literacy sessions. This study indicates that doing so successfully increased student engagement and information literacy compared to instruction not explicitly devoted to facilitating students’ autonomy. This gives librarians reason to experiment with authentic learning and autonomy supportive pedagogy in their own information literacy sessions. Moreover, librarians can use these results to advocate for the value of information literacy instruction to faculty members who may struggle with engaging students in the process of research. The study may also serve as inspiration for librarians to creatively seek out pedagogical approaches that will further facilitate the opportunity for students to bring their true selves to their schoolwork. Our students will be better off for it.

You can download a PDF of the whole article via Reference Services Review.

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Filed under Education, Library Instruction, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel