File this post under reader and commenter Indyanna‘s notion that effective teaching can only be measured in the obituaries of our students. Via Echidne, we learn that in 1961, Phyllis Richman, writer and longtime restaurant critic at the Washington Post, applied to the graduate program in City and Regional Planning at Harvard’s School of Design . She received the following letter from Assistant Professor William A. Doebele, Jr., which read in part:
[O]ur experience, even with brilliant students, has been that married women find it difficult to carry out worthwhile careers in planning, and hence have a feeling of waste about the time and effort spent in professional education. (This is, of course, true of almost all graduate professional studies.)
Therefore, for your own benefit, and to aid us in coming to a decision [on your application], could you kindly write a page or two at your earliest convenience indicating specifically how you might plan to combine a professional life in city planning with your responsibilities to your husband and a possible future family?
I’m sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your letter from June 1961. As you predicted, I have been very busy. Recently, as I was cleaning out boxes of mementos, I came across your letter and realized that, even though we discussed it in person 52 years ago, I had never responded in writing.
In 1961 your letter left me down but not out. While women of my era had significant careers, many of them had to break through barriers to do so. Before your letter, it hadn’t occurred to me that marriage could hinder my acceptance at Harvard or my career. I was so discouraged by it that I don’t think I ever completed the application, yet I was too intimidated to contradict you when we met face to face.
At the time, I didn’t know how to begin writing the essay you requested. But now, two marriages, three children and a successful writing career allow me to, as you put it, “speak directly” to the concerns in your letter. Continue Reading »
So says Daphne Koller on the challenges of adapting MOOC technology to teach humanities courses. (Many thanks to Jonathan Rees of More or Less Bunk for alerting me to this story. While you’re there, don’t miss his post on “This is How MOOCs End.”)
What Koller really means is that we need not adapt MOOCs to the humanities. We need to adapt the humanities to the limits and demands of MOOCworld, which operates on the assumption that everything we need to know about student progress and achievement can be effectively measured by essay-grading software and multiple-choice quizzes and exams. Who knew that some people read Charles Dickens’s Hard Times not as a critique of the industrial era and the notion that everything (including education) can be automated, but rather see it as a blueprint for modern educational instruction? Continue Reading »
Sorry I’ve been out of touch lately–I’ve been enjoying our lovely wet and cool late spring days here on the high plains with my head stuck pretty much full time in the eighteenth century. (And that is awesome! So long as it’s all in books and in my head, and doesn’t involve period costumes and camping out.) Working on the back porch, watching the rose bushes bloom (finally!) and the hollyhocks and herb garden grow is pretty swell (even if it ain’t Italy.)
If you want some bloggy amusement, head on over to Tenured Radical, who is soliciting ideas in the service of answering some reader mail: what makes for a good blog post? How does it differ from academic writing for books and journals? What do you look for, and which posts do you tend to avoid? Let’s share!
Via Echidne originally, I give you Geoffrey Miller, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of New Mexico, who tweeted before thinking twice, or even once, really. I kind of liked the first comment at Get Off My Internets, which reads “[w]ell, he’s in evo psych. Of course he’s a d!ckhead.”
Since when are academics concerned about appearance? Continue Reading »
A few weeks ago in Portland, Oregon at a conference, I had a fantastic cocktail called the Bonnie Wee Lass at a fun pub called the Raven & Rose near Portland State University with Sharon Block, Monica Fitzgerald, Rachel Hope Cleeves, and Leslie Paris.
The drink featured the relatively exotic but completely delicious ingredients of Hendrick’s gin, lemon juice, rhubarb syrup, and rose water, and appeared in the most appealing shade of baby pink. I’m pleased to report that I’ve cracked the recipe code on this one, although the photo at left doesn’t do the color justice.
In any case, here’s the recipe, including instructions for making or procuring rhubarb syrup and rose water: Continue Reading »
Go read Dr. Cleveland on the uses of academic blogging, and how in many respects it is like Geoffrey Chaucer’s poetry (only with more profanity, lulz, and kitty-cat videos. Warning: he says some nice things about this blog, so file this one under “blogrolling in our time!” Next thing you know, we’ll be blurbing each other’s books!)
You can’t blog your way to a tenure-track professorship.You simply can’t. Even a gig at IHE or The Chronicle for Higher Education is not enough. That doesn’t mean blogging is not professionally useful to you. It means you need to be clear about what it’s useful for.
Blogging and other social media serve academics by bringing you to other people’s attention and building your professional network. It works largely as publicity for your other work, and it widens your potential audience while strengthening your connections. Continue Reading »
No, this is not a gay porn DVD title–amazingly enough, that’s a true headline! Check out this article from Der Spiegel–they called it panzerschokolade!
It was in Germany, though, that the drug first became popular. When the then-Berlin-based drug maker Temmler Werke launched its methamphetamine compound onto the market in 1938, high-ranking army physiologist Otto Ranke saw in it a true miracle drug that could keep tired pilots alert and an entire army euphoric. It was the ideal war drug. In September 1939, Ranke tested the drug on university students, who were suddenly capable of impressive productivity despite being short on sleep.
From that point on, the Wehrmacht, Germany’s World War II army, distributed millions of the tablets to soldiers on the front, who soon dubbed the stimulant “Panzerschokolade” (“tank chocolate”). British newspapers reported that German soldiers were using a “miracle pill.” But for many soldiers, the miracle became a nightmare. Continue Reading »
Howdy, friends–today’s post is an invitation for you to click on over to the American Historical Association’s Roundtable, “Historians’ Perspectives on Web Ethics,” a free-range discussion of the ethical and moral responsibilities historians have with respect to our online presence, either as web page hosts, bloggers, commenters, Tweeters, etc. Many thanks to Vanessa Varin, an Assistant Editor of Web and Social Media for Perspectives, the newsmagazine of the AHA. I made a contribution to the discussion, as did Benjamin Alpers of Oklahoma University and the U.S. Intellectual History blog, John Fea of Messiah College and the blog The Way of Improvement Leads Home, and Claire Potter of the New School for Public Engagement, a.k.a. our old pal, Tenured Radical.
I was interested to see that three of us wrote about the necessity of developing online professional standards and aggressively curating online discussions, whereas Alpers was the only one of us who wrote about a vision of the web as an “open, public scholarly space.” (This may have something to do with the fact that he has an intellectual history blog, which probably attracts fewer than its share of trolls compared to queer-radfem-political-cowgirl-religion bloggers like Fea, TR, and myself.) Continue Reading »
Why is it that Libertarian “feminism” is only expressed as criticism of any kind of feminist activism? Take Cathy Young, for example–please! Here she instructs us that “letting ideologues dictate the boundaries of acceptable speech on a large area of the Internet is a very bad idea.” OK–that’s an interesting point, right? The problem is that the only “ideologues” in her column are feminists who object to online misogyny. She fails to identify online misogyny as ideological commitment, too.
First, she introduces the problem by using language that implies that it’s not online misogyny that threatens violence against actual women, but online feminism threatens violence against free speech, suggesting a false equivalence between the two points of view:
Feminist activists are on the warpath against Facebook, which, they claim, condones woman-hating even as it censors not only other hate speech but “indecent” images of breastfeeding mothers. When I was asked to discuss this initiative on HuffPost Live WebTV, I wasn’t sure where I stood. The examples collected by the activists—such as a photo of a bloodied woman captioned, “She broke my heart. I broke her nose”—are certainly repellent; the First Amendment is not at stake, since it’s a matter of private citizens using speech to pressure a corporation that already restricts content it deems offensive. Yet a closer look suggests that the real agenda in this campaign is to whip up outrage about our culture’s alleged misogyny and flex muscle that could be used to intimidate and curtail legitimate speech.
Got it? One group of people posts a photo of a bloodied woman with a violent caption, but that’s not the side that’s described as “on the warpath” against women. It’s the side critical of this use of Facebook that is “on the warpath” in their attempt to “whip up outrage” and “flex muscle”–to beat up violent misogynists? Continue Reading »