Book Reviews, May 12

READ_leadersIntelligent Leaders – Let Me Know When You Find One

By Wayne Townsend, BEd’77

Yet another book on leadership. No, I am not trying to be glib.

Wayne Townsend knows all too well there are probably enough volumes on the subject enough to be stacked to the moon. However, while other books on this topical subject attempt to approach and define leadership in a grave or overly analytical way, Townsend excels in providing the reader with an informative guide on some of the core values of leadership such as mentoring, emotional intelligence, morality and character with a distinctive humour and with several real-world examples of leaders in action.

It is not enough to be a leader, for the real challenge and difference that distinguishes effective leadership is to be an intelligent one. Intelligence, for Townsend, is not simply defined as knowledge, but an overall human wisdom. Such intelligence can be characterized in being reflective of the past, cognizant of the present, anticipatory of the future and to value one’s employees. Not brash or stubborn, the intelligent leader is value-driven.

Studded with numerous examples by leaders in business, government and sport, Townsend’s contribution to leadership literature is certainly distinct, and with a natural flair for humour entwined with wisdom.

 

READ_hemodynamicsHemo-Dynamics

Mair Zamir, Applied Mathematics professor emeritus

Every time your heart beats, a fascinating and complex process occurs by which your body slightly alters its hemodynamic state. As most people know, the heart governs many of our most vital processes, including the flow of needed oxygen to our tissues. A change in volume or pressure is perhaps by far the most obvious indicator of a change in state. In hemodynamics, it is blood flow, not volume, most essential in determining the state of the heart and the complete circulatory system.

Zamir’s comprehensive primer on hemodynamics expertly and patiently guides the reader through the biophysical processes of fluid-flow dynamics. Bringing together a golden braid of physiology, physics and mathematics, Zamir provides us with the broader context to better understand how fluid dynamics operate in the body, and why they are so important. Although we now have the diagnostic software to map these complex processes where resistance, inductance and compliance operate in the physics of our “blood tubing,” Zamir’s delightfully readable text underscores the importance of understanding these processes on their own without simply relying on technological short-cuts.

Despite the frequent appearance of equations, this is not a barrier to entry for those who are less mathematically inclined; in fact, Zamir’s text achieves a harmonious balance by providing something of academic value for the mathematician, physicist, clinical researcher, and even the general academic audience. At the risk of making a fluid dynamics pun, this book was quite surprisingly pulsating.

 

The Myth Alive: Essays in Canadian Literature and Poetics

Don Gutteridge, Education professor emeritus

There might not be anything more politically parlous than the poet or novelist who weaves and imbricates history as a structure in her or his work, pending the cultural sensitivities associated with that history where the legacy effects are still felt. Among the worst charges against a writer who walks this path might be accusations of trivializing a historical injustice or tragedy, making short shrift of the substantive nature of those figures named or outright revisionism. The defensive smokescreen of saying one is protected by the sheer right of creativity may be construed as an evasion of responsibility – especially when incorporating particularly culturally sensitive historical events and persons.

Gutteridge’s collection of essays on the subject over a span of 40 years strongly indicate how questions of authorial intention, myth-making and mythology, and the use or abuse of history in literary practice, are still central to the blurred boundaries between a local and national poetic consciousness. And just as the integration of history and historicity in poetry can be a source of finding the universal in the particular, it is possible the particular can be extracted from the universal using the same literary expressive tendencies. This collection of poignant and thought-provoking essays are a veritable trove in themselves for those concerned with the sometimes tense interplay between history and literary work, but also provides an intimate portrait of a thoughtful writer who has been steadily prolific in the production of the literary-local-historical.

 

READ_spaces Negotiating Spaces for Literacy Learning

Eds. Western Education professors Rachel Heydon, Kathryn Hibbert and Roz Stooke, along with Mary Hamilton

Given the heavy impact of government direction and digital integration in education, educators and learners may feel as though strategies for learning and literacy are wholly prescribed by outdated assumptions, and that there is a growing importance in recognizing both multimodalities of teaching/learning, as well as recognizing the very real complexity of multiliteracies. Assumptions there is only one literacy can be considered hopelessly myopic, not only with respect to outmoded sociolinguistic biases, but also with respect to the new affordances of digital use and innovations in education practices that have been able to outmaneuver the constraints of government expectations and outcomes-based controls.

This collection of essays by educational researchers in multimodal forms of teaching and learning explores the need for a more critical and reflective approach to education that can be participatory without resorting to punitive forms of accountability, to develop new forms of agency, and to explore the multifaceted aspects of power that have become entwined with an education system more built on the disciplinary society while punishing or pathologizing certain types of learners. Multimodal affordances open up new spaces of possibility and exploration for agency, discovery, and move well beyond the traditional exercising of power. This collection is highly recommended for those who are in the process of exploring pedagogical practices and spaces.

 

MKT: The Early Years

Morley Keith Thomas

This colourful and delightful memoir of Morley Keith Thomas can hardly be captured by just running down a list of even just a few of his accolades.

An early Mustangs player and later coach, and a long-serving meteorologist, Morley Keith (he would have preferred Aukland) Thomas’ knack for telling a story from his roots in rural southwestern Ontario, and the careful diligence he puts into his genealogical details, is in itself a pleasure to read. However, for those who grew up in the surrounding (now annexed) parts of London such as Talbotville, Scottsville and Lambeth, there is a great deal of nostalgia. His association with many household – and possibly only very locally known – names (some of home now have streets named after them) is a roster of historical personages such as Dr. Routledge of Lambeth and Western professor Ed Pleva.

As this volume only covers his early years, it is already set up as life well lived amidst its mixes of tragedy in losing his father to Spanish flu just months after his birth, boyhood antics among the ‘Corner Culture,’ the school trips to Port Bruce of Springbank Amusement Park, the football training and away games, his many farm jobs, the cement job and meeting his future wife Clara, all culminate to tell a richly imbued story of what life was like in the region from the 1920s through the 1940s. It also tells the story of how he became enamoured with meteorology due to a convergence of many childhood interests. Thomas’ son Steve, and grandson Tyler, are to be credited for bringing MKT’s story for others to enjoy.

 

READ_tidingsTidings

Don Gutteridge, Education professor emeritus

This svelte collection of soulful, reflective lyrical poems vividly brings to poetic life – via portrait or snapshot – a host of interesting individuals from the boyhood days of Gutteridge in Point Edward.

The aptly titled first section, A Way Home, captures this journey of internal return to those days and illuminates them in the equally apt way of the staggered line, like a news clipping or a creased photograph pressed between the leaves of the heavy book of memory. In the second section, Here and Now, Gutteridge reflects on the present – from his granddaughter watching Dora the Explorer (and how the same formulae of narrative continue to unfold) to reflections on dying that are less morbid as they are sentimental and returning to the weave of a sentimental exploration of those finer details of nature and of moments so brusquely neglected in the busy prose of everyday life. The third section, Miscellany, returns more vividly to the scene of aging and memory, recalling with fondness and sorrow the life of his father, or how we ought not get tangled up exclusively in the labyrinths of memory if there is but time to savour the delights of the lived present.

One might say that Tidings is a mature work very solidly indexed on all that maturity entails.