Spencer writes in the library, part 9: Putting things in context

Written by: Spencer Greenhalgh

Primary Source: Spencer Greenhalgh


This episode of Spencer Writes in the Library took place Monday, August 4th around 2:00pm

The Spot

Where am I working today?

I am on the fourth floor of the west wing, looking out over the Red Cedar river.

What’s a perk of this spot?

There’s a very nice view over the river and the bridges that cross it.

What’s a problem with this spot?

There are some electrical outlets up here, but they appear to be few and far between. I managed to find one, but if I come back up here at a busier time, I’ll have to make sure I have a full battery.

What have I learned in this spot?


Not only does the library have an impressive number of books and journals on art, but it also has a lot of them in French. I know that I’ve commented before on foreign language sources in the library, but it seems that no matter where I go, I can manage to find sources in languages other than English without even trying.

How would I rate this spot?

4 out of 5 dentists. (Why dentists?)

The Work

What am I working on today?

Dr. Rand Spiro has given a number of students in my cohort the chance to collaborate on an article that will be appearing in a special issue of Educational Technology that highlights some of Dr. Spiro’s work. I spent some time today looking over some recent books that support our article’s thesis that direct instruction isn’t enough to prepare students for a world filled with wicked problems and ill-structured domains. Rather, education needs to support students as they learn to think, reason, and discover on their own.

What’s the highlight from today’s work?

The main part of the work I’ve been doing today is reading reviews of Tyler Cowen’s book Average is Over to see how it’s been received (and criticized) since its publication. While different reviews challenged some of the nuances of Cowen’s argument, most of the ones I read accepted the main thesis that technology is changing the world that we live in and that it’s important that we be ready for it. While this can be a frightening prospect at times, it’s one that gives meaning and context to the career that I’ve chosen.

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Hi there! My name is Spencer Greenhalgh, and I am a student in the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology doctoral program at Michigan State University. I came to Michigan State University with a strong belief in the importance of an education grounded in the humanities. As an undergraduate, I studied French and political science and worked as a teaching assistant in both fields. After graduation, I taught French, debate, and keyboarding in a Utah private school before coming to MSU, where I plan to study how technology can be used to help students connect the humanities with their lives. I have a particular interest in the use of games and simulations to promote ethical reasoning and explore moral dilemmas, but am eager to study any technology that can help students see the relevance of studying language, culture, history, and government.