Posts tagged Drew Koch
Summer Reading. Institute Style
This summer we asked the staff and fellows of the Gardner Institute to tell us what they were reading. We had a small peek into their bookshelves and compiled a list of favorites. The list runs the gamut from insightful books and articles about teaching, learning, and the current political climate, to fascinating biographies, gardening books, and escapist novels! We anticipated a diverse list of books which we would immediately want to add to our own bookshelf They did not disappoint.

This summer we asked the staff and fellows of the Gardner Institute to tell us what they were reading. We had a small peek into their bookshelves and compiled a list of favorites. The list runs the gamut from insightful books and articles about teaching, learning, and the current political climate, to fascinating biographies, gardening books, and escapist novels! We anticipated a diverse list of books which we would immediately want to add to our own bookshelf They did not disappoint.

The New York Times, The Atlantic and Longmire Mysteries

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John Gardner 

Gardner Institute

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My summer reading (in between classical music concerts at the Brevard Music Center with my wife Dr. Betsy Barefoot) consists of:

  1. Daily devouring of The New York Times

  2. The latest issue of The Atlantic Magazine

  3. Working my way through the entire series of the Longmire Mysteries 13 volumes by Craig Johnson!


Slavery in Small Things Slavery and Modern Cultural Habits, by James Walvin


Drew Koch

Gardner Institute


In his book, Slavery in Small Things: Slavery and Modern Cultural Habits, James Walvin chronicles how London, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool, and other 18th and 19th century British cities thrived on slave commerce. This commerce took many forms. It was found in the transportation of enslaved Africans to the Americas. It was also evident in the distribution of slave-produced goods such as tobacco, sugar, cocoa, coffee, tea, and mahogany. And it manifested itself in creation of whole industries that were tightly connected to slave-produced goods such as porcelain (for sugar bowls and tea sets), pipes (for tobacco), coffee houses, and exquisite furnishings (made from mahogany). In short, the British Isles and European mainland were inextricably linked with slavery. However, unlike the American continent, where, as Walvin notes, “the modern American state came into being in 1787 arguing about slavery” (Walvin, 2017, p. 3), slavery by and large remained out of sight in Britain and Europe, even if it “had become part of the warp and weft of British commercial and social life” (p. 4).  The book has been a fascinating read. It has me thinking about how, in the contemporary era, the legacy of slavery is still manifesting itself in many “small things” that add up in big ways in the United States.  In fact, I am drawing on these exact thoughts to help frame a chapter in a forthcoming book on gateway courses – since, sadly, as I’ve shown in previous scholarship, race is one of the most significant factors in predicting who does or does not succeed in gateway courses in college.


Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students,  by Zaretta Hammond

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Isis Artze

Florida International University


This summer, I'm reading Zaretta Hammond's Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students. In it, she describes a four-part framework for teaching in culturally responsive ways, one that combines the research on cognition with that on culture and inclusion, and - importantly - offers practical guidance for those of us wanting to engage in this critical work. Hammond argues convincingly that culturally responsive teaching is “one of our most powerful tools for helping students find their way out of the [achievement] gap.” The four categories of the Ready for Rigor Framework are awareness, learning partnerships, information processing, and community of learners. I've been meaning to read it for quite some time now, so I signed up to facilitate a faculty book group this summer and had the pleasure of discussing it with extremely thoughtful faculty colleagues, mostly from STEM fields. Since Hammond’s examples and anecdotes are from the K-12 sector, some of our discussions focused on identifying what’s relevant to our contexts and how we might adapt some of the strategies. One of the features I most appreciate about Hammond’s book is her explicitness, as I find that some authors are so careful with their language when discussing matters of race and inclusion that their insights become muddled. Here’s an example from the awareness category of her framework, one that I consider the key element of culturally responsive teaching: “Every culturally responsive teacher develops a socio-political consciousness, an understanding that we live in a racialized society that gives us unearned privilege to some while others experience unearned disadvantage because of race, gender, class, or language.” 


Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong about the World – and Why Things are Always Better Than You Think, by Hans Rosling

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Rob Rodier

Gardner Institute


Rosling talks about using data and visualizations based on facts from the World Bank and United Nations and describes ways to use a “fact-based framework” to view and reason about the world. Overall, it is a story about how the world is getting better despite what you may always hear or the “negativity instinct.” Hans discusses this negativity instinct and 9 more instincts in relation to modern data that supports the instincts (or not).


Educated,  by Tara Westover

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Rebecca Campbell 

Northern Arizona University


I'm reading Tara Westover’s Educated.  I tend not to risk reading anything that’s fiction unless it’s recommended or I already am familiar with the author.  Educated was highly recommended by colleagues and was the NY Time’s May book club choice.  So, as the dust has literally and figuratively settled after my very hectic June (moved, got married, taught 2 courses, blah, blah, blah), I was being really picky about what to choose for my precious quiet time.  Fiction is a treat and I maxed out on professional development books about pedagogy last Spring.  I am also transitioning to the role of part-time associate dean in our College of Education right now.  So, the story of an individual who never stepped foot in a classroom was particularly intriguing.  With all of the recent protests and changes to public education, the idea of reading about someone who was denied a K-12 formal education really caught my attention.  I’m only a short-ways in but the book is great thus far!


IQ, by Joe Ide

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Peter Felton

Elon University


IQ is a smart and quirky detective novel, the first by author Joe Ide. The main character, Isaiah Quintabe (aka IQ), is a brilliant orphan who is trying to make a life for himself in a crime-soaked part of Long Beach, California. IQ is a charming but imperfect protagonist -- reviewers often compare him to Sherlock Holmes. However, IQ lives in a very different world than Sherlock, and in many ways, IQ is a more likable person than that other super smart detective. At the start of the book, IQ is trying to mind his own business and make his corner of the world a somewhat better place, although he has some unresolved issues from his past that keeps, him up at night. The story moves quickly, and the writing is compelling -- funny and profane. The characters and the story are memorable. This is not the most profound book you’ll read this summer, but it might be the most enjoyable.


Calypso, by David Sedaris

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Betsy Barefoot

Gardner Institute


“Calypso” by David Sedaris.  Anyone who has read Sedaris knows that occasionally he says outrageous, scatological things, but if a reader can get over that, overall this book is really sweet – it’s about his aging father, his sister who committed suicide, his other sisters who are famous in their own right and his partner Hugh.  I loved it – it’s a story about a family – a strange family but one in which there is a lot of love. 


Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi

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Bryan Dewsbury

University of Rhode Island


In this multi-generational story, Ghanaian-American author Yaa Gyasi documents the lived experiences of the offspring of two half-sisters. One sister married a village 'big man' in the Ashanti kingdom, was captured and sold into the Transatlantic slave trade, and the other married a British officer and lived in the slave castle in Cape Coast, Ghana. Each chapter is a vivid description of life in either 18th century Ghana or generations of slavery, through reconstruction in America. Though this is a work of fiction, each generational depiction is factually accurate, both in her construction of the social contexts, and the specific ways in which social inequities were handed down to subsequent generations. This unintentional handing down of disadvantage is what makes this work so powerful. By the end, one certainly senses that engaging in this writing may have been cathartic for the author. Certainly, her work shines a new light on how one might think of 'generations of blackness', not just in America or Africa, but anywhere chattel slavery caused its spread and permanence.


Flat Broke With Two Goats, a Memoir by Jennifer McCana

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Sara Stein Koch

Gardner Institute


Flat Broke With Two Goats is the memoir of a local (Asheville area) well-educated woman and her life of bad financial decisions. What I liked about the book was both its honesty and how it left the reader slapping her head saying “really?!”. For any Asheville or Brevard native, there are numerous references to places that you’ll recognize.


The Road from Coorain, by Jill Ker Conway

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Catherine Andersen

University of Baltimore


I just finished reading The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway the first woman to serve as Smiths College President.  I recall that Roberta told me she was at her recent college reunion. 

Jill died this June, and I was inspired to learn more about her after reading her obituary. The Road from Coorain is a beautifully written memoir of growing up in the wilds of Australia.  I was touched by her story and the influences on her by her parents -especially her mother who in her own way was a woman well ahead of her time but limited by circumstances. 

Jill -even as a child- navigated complicated family dynamics and managed to emerge as a brilliant scholar, leader, and humanitarian.  

Loved this book and wish, as Roberta did, I  could have met this wonderful person.


Eunice, the Kennedy who Changed the World, by Eileen McNamara

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Katie Locke

Gardner Institute


I recently heard an interview with Maria Shriver, Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s daughter and it drove me to want to learn more about her mother. I read Eunice: The Kennedy Who Changed the World. While Eunice’s brothers were groomed to be politicians and leaders of the free world, Eunice, smart and Stanford educated created her own opportunities. She was driven by a desire for equality, passionate about advocating for individuals with disabilities, and unwilling to be hampered by familial or societal views of the role of women in the political stage.  Eunice started the Special Olympics, McNamara illustrates her impact is far-reaching and more impactful than any of her siblings.

Eileen McNamara’s biography is both intimate, and comprehensive. She portrays Eunice as a mother, a devoted Catholic, and the formidable woman whose impact is far-reaching.  A great read and a book to share with your daughters.


Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning, by James M. Lang

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Vicki McGillin

Gardner Institute


When looking for readings that offer accessible, small and impactful approaches that are based in the cognitive sciences, this is one of the most frequently recommended books today.  While not a learning scientist (his discipline is English), Lang has offered a very easy to read compilation of learning activities that can be easily introduced in the classroom.  His approach to curricular transformation is an evolutionary one (one small change at a time that can cumulatively lead to meaningful outcomes). Not all curricular changes have to be BIG to achieve significant results. He backs his approaches with a lay understanding of the science and the pedagogy.  His chapters cover both learning factual information and the development of cognitive skills (reading, writing, problem-solving), as well as developing a mastery orientation.  Highly recommended.   I couldn't stop at just one so I am also recommending 84K by Claire North

84K,  by Claire North

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It is hard to recommend such a dark, dystopian novel for summer reading, but perhaps, it takes a bright summers’ day to work through Claire North’s vision of a not distant future England, where every life has a monetary value and crimes are punished by fines according to the value of the person and the nature of the offense.  You enter this world through the life of a man (sometimes) called Theo Miller, who has spent his entire adult life creating the most inoffensive “jedermann” persona possible.  His careful and joyless balancing act is disrupted when he learns that he may have fathered a child, now a teenager lost in the system.  Crossing several timelines, this novel explores the uncovering of the man under the persona, as he seeks the one thing that may give meaning to his life. North's vision of this near future, wholly owned by the Company, rings uncomfortably close to some contemporary currents.


Taming Wildflowers, by Miriam Goldberger

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Carol Huhn

Gardner Institute


This book is a wonderful resource for learning more about the importance and benefits of incorporating native plants into your landscape.  Despite its small size, it is rich with detail regardless of the region in which you live. It’s a “keeper” in my gardener’s library!


All books are available online or from your favorite local independent bookseller.

Massacring People and Meaning

Massacring People and Meaning:

Why Liberal Education is Vital for Democracy and Our Very Existence

by Dr. Drew Koch

Massacres are as American as apple pie.

Unfortunately. And sadly. But seriously.

Before there even was a country, there were massacres – establishing white settler dominance on what would one day become U.S soil.

Our nation’s foundational story is based, in part, on a 1770 massacre in Boston.

Massacres eradicated Native Americans who resisted Manifest Destiny.

Massacres ended slaves’ lives when their forced passage became too inconvenient for their handlers.

Massacres punished black troops who dared oppose the Confederacy and African Americans who attempted to assert their rights in the post-Civil War South.

Massacres killed laborers advocating for safe working conditions, and fair wages.

Massacres killed civilian inhabitants of villages where we waged war, unarmed prisoners of war, and students who protested against war.

And on, and on, and on . . .

Along with the massacres have come efforts to control the narrative about them. Paul Revere masterfully used the Boston Massacre as a propaganda tool to promote war with England. The Wounded Knee Massacre was initially portrayed as a battle initiated by the Sioux. Other examples abound.

In many instances, powerful elites tried to erase massacres from the historical narrative all together. Few of us ever learned anything about the Zong, Colifax, or Orangeburg Massacres during our formal educational experiences.

Yes, massacres, and the manipulated or buried narrative about them, have always been a tragic part of America’s history. Thus, it should come as no surprise that over the past two weeks, two massacres have entered the conversation.

One of these massacres never actually happened – a falsehood alleged to have occurred in Bowling Green, Kentucky; cited to legitimize a thinly-veiled and unconstitutional Muslim ban. The other massacre actually did occur.

Two weeks ago, a Republican party leader from Michigan used a Twitter post to call for “another Kent State” to silence student protesters on college campuses. And while all massacres disgust me, it was this action that compelled me to write this blog.

I am not writing to shame that party official. The fact that he deleted his Tweet – and recently resigned his position – leave me hoping that he realized his comments were unbecoming of a leader in a democratic republic.

In his study of massacres from 1900 through 1987, political scientist R. J. Rummel concluded that the more mature a nation’s democracy, the less likely it is to experience state-led or sanctioned massacres. Based on this analysis, massacres must be viewed as breakdowns of civility, decency, humanity and, ultimately, democracy.

This is why it’s nearly unfathomable for me to see that a major party official in the twenty-first century United States would call for a massacre. We are supposed to be better than this.

But there is hope.  And it resides, at least in part, in how America’s colleges and universities educate their students.

I believe that education is the antidote to massacre’s poison and allure. Educational experiences that teach the art of respectful, civil discourse; promote reason over rabid extremism; base lessons on scientific method and findings rather than “alternative facts,” and advance pluralistic and global engagement over xenophobic isolation and extremism foster the conditions that lead to mature democracies. And I am convinced that liberal education yields the kind of learning that best nurtures engaged citizens of and leaders for a mature democracy.

In the present United States, it is easy to be disheartened by politicians calling for the death of protesters, initiating “extreme vetting” campaigns, and accelerating deportations. It is enough to make reasonable people – and I believe that is the majority of us – feel completely powerless.

But those of us who have the privilege to work in and with America’s colleges and universities have the power and ability to counteract this blight. We have agency – and it comes in the form of liberal education.

And this is why I must issue a call of my own.

In response to the former GOP party leader who asserted that it was “Time for another Kent State” because “One bullet stops a lot of thuggery,” I call on the all the state universities across the nation – as well as their community college counterparts – to redouble their efforts to advance liberal education.

Because while “one bullet” might stop “a lot of thuggery,” the application of liberal education across 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States can lead to the kind of thinking that can stop a lot of bullets and, in the process, preserve and enhance America’s promise.

pb+j BuilderDrew Koch
Immigrants' Child

Immigrants’ Child: Thoughts on Belonging in the United States and My Work Ahead

by Dr. Drew Koch

I am the son of immigrants. Like millions before, my parents came to the United States in search of a better life – for themselves and their future generations.

A close study of history has taught me that many persons did not arrive to this land in the same manner. Some were here long before the start of the Western European migration – first nations peoples who somehow did not “vanish” despite the best efforts to forcibly claim and displace them from their soil.

While force was being used to remove some peoples, it was simultaneously bringing Africans to these shores – in chains, as chattel labor, and, until recently, counting at most as only 3/5 of a human and then only for someone else’s benefit.

Yet others, such as Mexicans, were forcibly incorporated into the nation – courtesy of treaties that were signed without their input.

Even when peoples came willingly and legally, they were often less-than fully embraced. Exclusion actsnativist anti-immigrant practices and movements, and even internment centers infringed on the rights of those who were lawfully admitted to till, shape and build the nation. The message was clear – you can come in, but you don’t exactly fit in.

As a child of immigrants I wrestled with what it meant to be American on a near daily basis. My first language was not English. My mother has a thick German accent. My father’s forename, Wolfgang, screamed “I’m not from here” even if his English was accent-free.

I was “the German kid” – routinely taunted on an elementary school playground by a bully and his toadies who greeted me during recess with “Koch ties his shoes in little Nazis” and “Heil Koch-ler!” In art class, the same classmates “lovingly” crafted and donned swastika arm bands and then saluted me as they exited at the bell. Somehow, the playground monitor and art teacher respectively but similarly chalked this all up as good-natured ribbing.

When I would visit family in Germany, aunts and uncles would tell people meeting me for the first time to pardon the fact that I spoke a dialect of German used 40 years earlier. “Er ist nicht echt Deutsch, er ist Amerikaner” – He’s not an authentic German, he’s an American – they would apologetically tell the new acquaintances before I got a chance to speak.

While at times painful and confusing, I would not trade this personal experience for any other. It has made me a culturally liminal person – someone who has had to learn how to span and be competent within many cultures simultaneously. It has made me compassionate as well as passionate – compassionate for others whose lives span multiple cultures; passionate about equity and inclusion.

My personal experience and study of U.S. history tells me that that the fights for inclusion, social justice and civil rights progress have been anything but linear. They have come only with vigilance and persistent pressure – by an alliance of the oppressed and their allies.

So, for those of you who feel alarmed by immigration bans, border walls and the rise of the Alt-right, know that I share your concerns.  For those who speak with or have family members who speak with an accent, know that I too have lived this experience.  For those of you who have wondered if you belong, know that I have asked the same questions about myself.

And the answers are simple even if the issues are complex.

You all belong, just as I do too.

I am an American, and so are you.

And I pledge allegiance, to the charge, of making a united state of Americans;

Through the work I do at the Gardner Institute, and my life outside the office;

In the pursuit of liberty, and justice, for all.

E Pluribus Unum.

Photo of the Pan American Airlines plane on which my father flew to immigrate to the United States from Germany in 1955.

The passenger manifest from my father’s immigration flight, March 30, 1955.  (Passenger #5)

Julie HellerDrew Koch