Category: book writing with students

Book writingbook writing with studentsbook-writingcompassionCurious David

Curious David Redux: Ruminations on Writing

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the process of writing. Yesterday I met with a friend to celebrate the publication of her first novel. Today I met with my business partner to discuss a book we are working on together. I just now received a progress report from my research assistant on some e-book publication software about which she is writing a student user’s manual. I continue to be haunted by the lyrical prose and themes of Sigrid Nunez’s novel The Friend.

Curious David Redux:

For numerous reasons, I am a slow writer. I don’t type. Though a nuanced writer I do not naturally dictate into a piece of software as my business partner Greg Schneider does so naturally. I’ve never had a secretary or administrative assistant.

I am, however, a prodigious reader. I have a stack of over two dozen books awaiting my reading this summer. Greg just suggested two to add to the stack.

I have rightfully been criticized for reading too much in order to delay my writing. I revise multiple times trying to find just the right word, the right tone, the right feeling. My novelist friend just gently admonished me to stop striving for perfection.

I self-handicap by being interested in so many different things.  I am very easily distracted from the task at hand. Yesterday I was distracted from writing by reflecting on digital doppelnamers!

I have no strong external incentive to write nor am I interested in carrots or sticks. I am tenured and intrinsically motivated. Are these excuses or reasons?

Last night I started reading a new book The Seven Sins of Psychology.  I’ll write a book review of the book after school is out. I miss having the writing outlet of the journal PsycCritiques where I published several dozen book reviews before it was discontinued by the American Psychological Association. Reading and reviewing the book may give me closure on resolving ruminations I struggled with in this piece I wrote about 6 years ago.

Curious David Redux

I am having quite a bit of difficulty writing this piece–and have had that difficulty for the past few years when my identity with my discipline of social psychology became disrupted and unsettled. When I taught Experimental Social Psychology class I shared with students a case study of the influential career of European social psychologist Diederik Stapel. May I never be so famous that

  1. my biography is regularly updated on Wikipedia,
  2. my story is featured in the New York Times,
  3. and my work is regularly condemned on Retraction Watch.

The past two years I have invited my students to share in writing their reactions to this case study. Before “publishing them” in a blog piece, I was interested in whether Diederik might be interested in seeing them. Thank you, Diederik for replying and sharing some of your experiences over the past years.

Diederik’s behavior leaves me struggling with the questions of at what point is ostracism unwarranted and forgiveness or a variant of compassion warranted. At what point does ostracism degenerate into a witch hunt? How can one both acknowledge and condemn wrong behavior (never forget) and yet not engage in wrong behavior by failing to allow an individual opportunity to show that they have learned from their wrong behavior?

I have much to ruminate about.


Agingbook writing with studentsbrain fitness trainingCarroll University USACurious David

Brain Fitness Training: Fact vs. Fiction


There is much interest today in using technology to improve one’s brain power,  one’s health, and one’s well-being. Take a moment to conduct an online search on the topics of “brain fitness for seniors,” “brain fitness games,” “brain fitness apps, “and “brain training.” You’ll  be overwhelmed with the number of results. Unfortunately the social media and advertising claims are far removed from the science upon which legitimate claims can be made. How can one decide which claims are “snake oil,” which represent vaporware, and which are based upon  well-done research? Which programs are merely entertainment? Which make false or unverifiable claims? Which claims are patently wrong? Are there some vaild brain training interventions that are appropriate and proven effective for special populations? How can one protect or improve one’s brain heath?

In part because a number of Carroll alumni have been actively involved in research involving aging and memory (e.g. Michelle Braun, John DenBoer and Mark Klinger), and in part because I am approaching the age of 70, I’ve taken an increased interest in memory research.  I’ve always been fascinated by the too much-neglected research of Harvard’s Ellen Langer exploring concepts of mindfulness and mindlessness. I found especially fascinating her book Counterclockwise, though I am still skeptical about its implications for age reversal. [There IS empirical evidence (needful of replication and extension) that subjective perceptions of age can be affected by the mere process of measuring variables related to aging].

A day doesn’t pass when I am not flooded with emails about  “brain fitness training opportunities” that I am implored to explore.  Brain U Online gives me a friendly reminder of the availability of a brain training session invitation.  Blinkist suggests that I read a synopsis of the book Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect your Brain for Life.  I am alerted that Episode #4 (of 10) “Six ‘Brain Hacks’ to Enrich Your Brain” from a course awaits my viewing.  An interesting NPR story invites me to explore the brain-enhancing benefits of bilingual education. I receive an invitation to take an AARP approved  (and United Health Care supported)Life Reimagined”  free online course on “Brain Power: How to Improve Your Brain Health” taught by Wendy Suzuki, Ph.D.  Posit Science urges me to become a “Smart Cookie” by joining their “…unique braining program … which unlike others… is backed by more than 100 published scientific papers”… I think that I’ll send them all  a copy of the recent review of brain training  research  n Psychological Science in the Public Interest (here is the link).

How does one separate the wheat from the chaff of these claims? Which avenues are promising and which are merely advertising promises? Will I really get smarter with five-minute lessons delivered to my inbox every morning? Do I want to? Would I be well-served by following my heart and attempting to (re) learn long forgotten Spanish? Would I be better served by exercising more? Learning how to play an instrument? Should I become involved in creating an Elder hostel educational experiences? So many questions. What fun to begin systematically answering them with talented students, data, and critical thinking.

Meet my Fall  2017 Carroll University student research seminar team. Jeff, Alexis, Sami, Abbey, Antonio, Nathan, Alex, Alex, and Ricky.

We have begun developing answers to questions such as these and are in the process of writing a short book sharing our findings. What questions would you like us to answer? Stay tuned!