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'Embarrassment' Review

I just finished Thomas Newkirk's Embarrassment: And the Emotional Underlife of Learning. Like anything by Newkirk, I devoured it and found that so much of it rang true with my philosophy and feelings when it comes to teaching.

Here are ten lines that stood out to me in the book (in no particular order):


  1. "Unless we can get beyond this reluctance, we never put ourselves out there to learn--we never become the novice we need to be to learn." (15)
  2. "Schools face what might be called the paradox of offering help... you need a designation for that group, and that very designation may be so stigmatizing that students would rather forgo the help than to accept the label." (33)
  3. "We need to look beyond the posture of indifference, or just see it as a posture." (61)
  4. "We are happy, gratified to offer help--that is a big part of our professional identity. But we (or at least I) are far more reluctant to receive help." (63)
  5. "Failure or disappointment is less scary if we can name it, share it, and see it as a normal and expected feature of thinking and working." (73) 
  6. "Good teachers never appear rushed. Or make students feel rushed." (79)
  7. "We assume that students know how to engage in processes, and that all we have to do is ask that it be done. ... To avoid assumptive teaching we need to follow Mike Anderson's lead and surgically examine seeming simple and habitual processes." (85) 
  8. "If students can consciously engage in a process, and build a history of working through difficulty and complexity, that history becomes the capital that they can draw on." (92)
  9. "In writing, as in teaching, our personality is our greatest asset." (149)
  10. "To learn something new, we must be publicly awkward, and there is nothing 'natural' about wanting to be revealed this way." (186)

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