Nilson’s Teaching at its Best

I like to read before I fall asleep. It started as a method of treating my insomnia, really as a way to “wind down” my overactive mind (anyone else have a inner voice that will not stop rambling – ever?). And, although I’m having less and less problems with insomnia as I age, I still continue to try to get a bit of reading done before drifting off to sleep.


I wish I could sleep like this fox. Maybe I should try sleeping on a tree stump.

But, trying to read this book before going to bed was not the best idea I have ever had. Because, it is one of the densest readings I have ever attempted. And, this is coming from someone who is attempting to do some theory work for my dissertation (oh, theory literature, so so so dense).

I’ll admit, it depended on the chapter, or, more specifically, the sections of the chapter. Take the second chapter for example, the one on outcome-centered course design. It oscillated between practical advice (e.g., how to write a learning outcome) and existing theories (e.g., several different types of learning taxonomies). The practical advice was simple to read, but the existing theories – not so much. That may be because I don’t easily understand theories or because I was not expecting so many theories, but, from my perspective, it got quite dense at times. I would have to re-read sections, or, in the even more extreme, abandon the reading for sleep because my mind could not handle it during the transition to a lower level of mental functioning with increasing tiredness.

However, this density was not necessarily a bad thing. Having more than just a citation for why something is supported by research is the opposite, a good thing. Knowing why I’m doing something as opposed to just doing it on “faith” raises my confidence in my teaching.  But, it is going to take me a while to get through this one (I decided to read the book, instead of skim). Yet, I’m happy with that decision. Because, even though I may not remember all of it due to the density and state of mind during my reading, I do think I’ll take a way a good amount of information that is useful. It may be more restricted to the practical advice, as that’s my focus at this time, but maybe its a book that requires a couple of reads to really understand all of it. To that end, I’m flagging areas to return to along the way so I’m setting myself up for a quick reference guide in the future.


I do fear that my book will look like this when I’m done with it. Hopefully, I can tone it down.

Anyway, although I’m not done with it yet, I have enjoyed my educational, but slow, journey so far. I look forward to getting through more of it as I move along!

7 thoughts on “Nilson’s Teaching at its Best

  1. I definitely understand, Tess, as I was having a hard time reading the book for a similar reason: I felt like the good content was sandwiched in with the theoretical stuff and a lot of common sense things, especially in the earlier chapters; however, like you, I have mine flagged because there was some really good, practical stuff in there.


  2. I think you picked a great one to read and flag. There is some great theory in the midst of all that density, but I find the sections with the practical advice are the ones I end up flagging. Theory is great, grand, and wonderul; but, the information I want to be able to find quickly is the day-to-day stuff. Happy reading!


  3. I liked your crowded post it note picture and idea. That’s exactly how I felt when going through this book. It was a bit of information overload, but similarly, I found some great practical things in there too.


  4. Dense is a good way to describe the book. I suspect the author would prefer the word “comprehensive.” Lots of good stuff in the book I think, but there was plenty that could have been cut. Still, it will be a good reference…if only I can remember what all was in the book.


  5. Tess, I appreciate your candidness. I went back to see the book as a read and it absolutely is dense. When I went through the book the first time, however, I looked at it as a reference manual. I took a gander at several areas which intrigued me and I gathered some insight. I feel intimidated by the large text books and probably continue to be for the rest of my life. I enjoy your insight and continue looking on ways to learn from you.


  6. Hi Tess,
    I’m really starting to wonder whether I’ll assign this text in the future. I’m glad to know your thoughts on it. I also really liked your fox pic.


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