Books Matter: Marilyn Harren

March is National Reading Month, a whole month designated to encouraging Americans – and by extension Wacoans – to read! The Act Locally Waco blog is beating the drum for National Reading Month by hosting a blog series throughout the month of March, called “Books Matter.” Every day throughout March we will be sharing a post about a Waco resident and a book that matters to him/her.  Thank you to students from the Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media and professor Amber Adamson for help with this fun project.  To read all the blog posts so far, click here

By Saphiana Zamora

In a society engulfed by data and statistics that determine worth, Marilyn Harren turns to The Tyranny of Metrics written by Jerry Muller to guide her through the journey of assisting others.

Harren graduated from Baylor University in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. She then continued her education at the University of Texas at Arlington through McLennan Community College where she received her certificate in special education.

Harren has work experience in special education, healthcare, pre-k through high school education and higher education, where she experienced first hand, the loss of original values due to the idea of perfect statistics. 

Her background led her to relate to and admire The Tyranny of Metrics by Jerry Muller and to turn to the book for advice that could guide her work.

“The book connected different worlds for me,” Harren said. “I think I’ve read this book at least three times in the past month. I just can’t get enough.”

The Tyranny of Metrics explores the idea of metric fixation, where systems like education are fixated on the numbers of their job rather than their original mission.

“Everyone’s doing something to meet the measurement,” Harren said. “It’s upsetting to see children lost in education and doctors unwilling to help patients simply because of data and statistics.”

As the President of AHEAD in Texas, Harren works to ensure aid for the organizations that help disabled students in higher education. Harren’s current job at Texas State Technical College requires her to utilize her skills in AHEAD and in healthcare as well.

“The book called me to be aware of my setting both in the workplace and in AHEAD,” Harren said. “I love what I do and how I help students. This book helped me become aware of what I was doing wrong in the system by focusing too much on the numbers. It’s definitely important for everyone to find a book like this that opens their eyes.”

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