Cory Leonard

Archive for May, 2013|Monthly archive page

Why Do I Teach? – Gary Gutting

In career on May 23, 2013 at 9:42 pm

Another version of Delbanco’s arguments–focusing on the value of a liberal education and the “dialogue” that students enter into with great ideas, authors, and worlds:

I’ve concluded that the goal of most college courses should not be knowledge but engaging in certain intellectual exercises…The goal of the course is simply that they have had close encounters with some great writing.What’s the value of such encounters?

They make students vividly aware of new possibilities for intellectual and aesthetic fulfillment—pleasure, to give its proper name.  They may not enjoy every book we read, but they enjoy some of them and learn that—and how—this sort of thing Greek philosophy, modernist literature can be enjoyable.  They may never again exploit the possibility, but it remains part of their lives, something that may start to bud again when they see a review of a new translation of Homer or a biography of T. S. Eliot, or when “Tartuffe” or “The Seagull” in playing at a local theater.

College education is a proliferation of such possibilities: the beauty of mathematical discovery, the thrill of scientific understanding, the fascination of historical narrative, the mystery of theological speculation. We should judge teaching not by the amount of knowledge it passes on, but by the enduring excitement it generates. Knowledge, when it comes, is a later arrival, flaring up, when the time is right, from the sparks good teachers have implanted in their students’ souls.

via Why Do I Teach? –

via Why Do I Teach? –


Commencement Speeches | Jon Lovett on the Culture of BS

In career, politics on May 23, 2013 at 6:44 am

‘Tis the season for impassioned words to new graduates.  The former Clinton speechwriter does a good deed by prepping Pitzer grads by encouraging them to not “cover for your inexperience” and “sometimes you will be right.”

Now, lessons one and two can be in tension. And I can’t tell you how to strike the balance every time. Though it helps to be very charming. And from my point of view, I’d rather be wrong and cringe than right and regret not speaking up. But the good news is, as long as you aren’t stubbornly wrong so frequently that they kick you out of the building, or so meek that everyone forgets you’re in the building you’ll learn and grow and get better at striking that balance, until your inexperience becomes experience. So it’s a dilemma that solves itself. How awesome is that?

Finally, number three: Know that being honest — both about what you do know, and what you don’t — can and will pay off.

via Life Lessons in Fighting the Culture of Bullshit – Jon Lovett – The Atlantic.

Donald Miller on Creating Meaning and Your Story

In career on May 22, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Based on the ideas of Dr. Viktor Frankl, Donald Miller’s approach for career and personal development focuses on  meaning as an experience rather than an attainment. He also helps develop narrative skills, something that everyone must face–whether from the often discussed “elevator pitch” to the one-on-one “what you have done” to the memoir.

Q: Don, you’re a best-selling author with a huge following, but you stopped traditional writing to work on Storyline. Why?

A: I started Storyline after I’d accomplished all my goals and still wasn’t happy. I’d become a New York Times bestselling author, which was my goal from high school, and yet I was less happy after accomplishing my goals than I was before. So I began researching what really makes people happy and content. I found that it has nothing to do with fame or money and everything to do with the health of our relationships and our interest in our own work. Serving people rather than trying to impress them is the foundation. So I created a life plan for myself, then shared it with others and found that it helped them heal and recover from a life of pursuing success. Now I consider it my life’s work and, interestingly enough, it fills my life with a deep sense of meaning.

Q: So what’s Storyline all about—practically, what do you do?

A: It’s basically a company that helps people tell better stories with their lives. Through conferences, websites, and individualized training, we create life plans and career paths for people who want to live meaningful lives. That’s what makes us different, really. We start with the question, “What will make your life more meaningful?” rather than, “What will make you more productive?” We’re finding that more and more, very successful people don’t feel satisfied with their success and want something more. That something more is what we help people discover.

via Donald Miller, Christian Iconoclast – The Daily Beast.

Moderation through Explanation | Ars Technica

In politics on May 5, 2013 at 8:43 pm

The science of moderation? Asking individuals with extreme positions to explain their position seems like smart strategy, cutting through what the authors call “an illusion of understanding”:

Moderation through explanation. Alternately, this section could be called Where Dunning-Kreuger meets politics. Four researchers at three different institutions joined forces to ask a simple question: why is it that people have such extreme positions on subjects that are rather complicated and nuanced? “We hypothesized that people typically know less about such policies than they think they do,” the authors write, going on to discuss their experimental method: asking people with extreme opinions to explain the issue. That brought an end to their subjects’ belief that they actually understood the issue they were otherwise willing to argue passionately about (or, as the authors put it, “undermined the illusion of explanatory depth”). Once people recognized their ignorance, positions tended to moderate.

In contrast, simply asking people to explain why they like their preferred policy kept the illusion intact. “The evidence suggests that people’s mistaken sense that they understand the causal processes underlying policies contributes to political polarization,” they conclude.

via Weird Science bases all of its political positions on ignorance | Ars Technica.


To see how it works, try a difficult social issues with deeply held view and mix in religious belief.

Proven models for dialogue can be found at the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy (FRD), an organization dedicated to inter- and intra-religious dialogue, with which I have been affiliated since 2009 as a member and as a former co-director of the FRD Mormon Chapter. In 2010 and 2012 I worked with FRD and the City of Los Angeles to convene a dialogue of several local religious leaders, including Mormons, from both sides of Proposition 8.

In these dialogues on Prop 8, I saw that FRD’s model, which emphasizes trust, not agreement, really works. I believe that this model can stand up to the even tougher test of intra-religious contention over issues of gender and sexuality within Mormonism. In a nutshell, I think that the FRD approach to dialogue comes down to three ground rules:
1) Assume that the person with whom you are speaking is a person of intelligence and good will.
2) Candidly disclose your motives for engaging in dialogue (both to others and to yourself) and be honest in raising points of sincere disagreement.
3) Share the time equally.

via Melissa Inouye, “Put Your Mormon Where Your Mouth Is”


You’re Distracted. This Professor Can Help. – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education

In tech on May 5, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Now that you have read this online…go offline and contemplate what technology is doing to you: Information and Contemplation: a Reading List – A selection of readings from a course taught by David M. Levy at the University of Washington

Introduction to Contemplative Practice

  • Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life, by Jon Kabat-Zinn (pages 3-19)
  • Alfred W. Kaszniak, “Contemplative Pedagogy: Perspectives From Cognitive and Affective Science,” in Contemplative Approaches to Learning and Inquiry Across Disciplines

Smart or Stupid?

  • Adam Gopnik, “The Information: How the Internet Gets Inside Us,” The New Yorker (2011)
  • Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other (2011; pages 151-170)
  • Jane McGonigal, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World (2011; introduction and conclusion)


  • Warren Thorngate, “On Paying Attention” (1988) in Recent Trends in Theoretical Psychology (1993; pages 247-263)
  • Antoine Lutz, Heleen A. Slagter, John D. Dunne, and Richard J. Davidson, “Attention Regulation and Monitoring in Meditation,” Trends in Cognitive Sciences (2008; pages 163-169)


  • Stephen R. Barley, Debra E. Meyerson, and Stine Grodal, “E-Mail as Source and Symbol of Stress,” Organization Science (2010)
  • Linda Stone, “Just Breathe: Building the Case for Email Apnea,” Huffington Post (2008)

The Body

  • Galen Cranz, The Chair: Rethinking Culture, Body, and Design (1998; chapters 3-4)
  • “Is All That Sitting Really Killing Us?,” The New York Times, “Room for Debate” (2010)

Emotional Regulation

  • Chade-Meng-Tan, Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness and World Peace (2012; Meng, as he is known, founded Google’s mindfulness course, “Search Inside Yourself.”)


  • David M. Levy, “No Time to Think: Reflections on Information Technology and Contemplative Scholarship,” Ethics and Information Technology (2007)


  • Claudia Wallis, “The Impacts of Media Multitasking on Children’s Learning and Development” (2010; report from research seminar, Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop)
  • Victor M. González and Gloria Mark, “‘Constant, Constant, Multi-Tasking Craziness’: Managing Multiple Working Spheres” (2004; paper presented at Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems)
  • David L. Strayer and Jason M. Watson, “Supertaskers and the Multitasking Brain” (2012), Scientific American Mind (pages 22-29)
  • David M. Levy, Jacob O. Wobbrock, Alfred W. Kaszniak, and Marilyn Ostergren, “The Effects of Mindfulness Meditation Training on Multitasking in a High-Stress Information Environment” (2012; paper presented at Graphics Interface Conference)


  • David M. Levy, “More, Faster, Better: Governance in an Age of Overload, Busyness, and Speed” (2006; First Monday)
  • Judith Shulevitz, The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time (2010)
  • “The Unplugged Challenge,” The New York Times (2010)
  • Sabbath Manifesto (Web site)

via You’re Distracted. This Professor Can Help. – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

How To Write About Politics: The Engaged or Detached Style?

In politics on May 1, 2013 at 12:56 am

I wanna be a de-tached writer, I want to live the life of danger….Yes David Brooks, this is a good mantra for what we need in our political discourse.

Also, detached writers have more realistic goals. Detached writers generally understand that they are not going to succeed in telling people what to think. It is enough to prod people to think — to provide an idea or piece information that sets readers on a train of thought that takes them far in front of whatever you put down.

The detached writer understands that, at the top level, politics is a bipolar struggle for turf. But the real fun is down below, sparking conversations about underlying concepts, underlying reality and the underlying frame of debate.

via Engaged or Detached? –