Archive for May, 2012

May 31st 2012
Class notes

Posted under students & technoskepticism & unhappy endings

A correspondent writes:

So I’m attending a class on Hume’s Treatise this term and often sit diagonally behind a young man who uses his laptop to “take notes.”  Last week he was reviewing lectures and taking a quiz *for an online class* while he was in the live action philosophy class. 


Now that’s what I would call efficient!  Not efficient for learning, but rather an efficient way to spend your tuition money.  Who wants to bet that the student in question will also expect the proffie in the F2F class to post hir lecture notes online too, so that they can be reviewed in still yet another class?  (P.S.  This is why I never post lecture notes online or on Blackboard, and don’t share them at all unless a student has a documented medical problem preventing them from attending class or a documented learning disability.) Continue Reading »


May 28th 2012
The institutional response to harassment

Posted under Gender & GLBTQ & jobs & students & unhappy endings & wankers

Tenured Radical has a great post about sexual harassment on campus.  Her post was motivated by an allegation of harassment by a student against a professor on her former campus, but I believe her advice is spot on for anyone harassed or bullied by someone in a greater position of power and authority on a college or university campus, not just students.  You should read and think about her whole post, but I think the upshot of it is here:

I have argued for some time that most people are not adequately prepared for the possibility that they will be harmed in some way on a college or university campus. Who includes in a college or grad school to-do list: “Think seriously about how to respond if a professor/senior colleague makes unwelcome advances”? The vast majority of students who make it to a four-year college or university have succeeded at school and tend to assume that administrators have their best interests in mind because they have rarely or never experienced anything else.

Wrong -o. Administrators are not in charge of justice or empathy, as anyone in the vocational track at your high school might have told you. They protect the best interests of the institution, as they understand them, and will do a great deal to silence people who threaten a school’s reputation. This includes throwing individual students and faculty who have turned into walking lawsuits under the bus and covering up faculty misbehavior many times over. And it does not include the highly public process of breaking faculty tenure to get a creepy jerk, chronic groper or bigot off campus.

Memorize this:  Institutions are in the business of protecting themselves.  They will not protect victims of people who have succeeded within the institution on the institution’s own terms.  Continue Reading »


May 23rd 2012
The Learning Machine

Posted under American history & art & childhood & fluff & students

Courtesy of blog reader JM, we hear that Anna Platypus, Daniel Striped Tiger, and Prince Tuesday are debating whether they want to learn via a fabulous new educational technology, The Learning Machine, or whether they want to have teachers and field trips.  “Lady Elaine was telling people that all they needed to learn anything” is the Learning Machine! Henrietta Pussycat is hoping for “Meow Meow Meow Field Trip Meow?” Scroll up to about 15:15 to the Neighborhood of Make Believe to see what they decide:

They must attend some kind of Quaker school or a Montessori, because the students are permitted such a large role in pedagogical decisions.  (Then again, it is the Neighborhood School of Make Believe!)  Continue Reading »


May 21st 2012
Your free laugh today: George Tierney of Greenville, South Carolina

Posted under bad language & Gender & happy endings & wankers & weirdness & women's history

Via Echidne, we learn that Tbogg has discovered that MRAs don’t understand how social media or the intertoobz work.  Also:  they have totally crap spelling and punctuation:

Misunderstanding how the Twitter works, George Tierney of Greenville South Carolina seemed to think he was using his “inside voice” when speaking (tw@tting) to [Sandra] Fluke on Twitter only to find out, in a very round-about way, that she elected to retweet to her 36,000 followers what George Tierney of Greenville South Carolina had to say to her and she only did this because she is obviously racist against douchebags who like to shout stuff at ladies on the internet because, as we like to say: virtual manhood is better than no manhood at all.

Anyway, that is where I came in when I screen-capped the whole exchange and made a post out of it, which brings us to last week when George Tierney of Greenville South Carolina decided to google himself on the internet and OH HOLY $HIT! he is now kind of semi-famous for Doing Internet Swears At Ladies and now that all that money he spent on eHarmony is just f^(king wasted because ladies will not want to go on a date with him ever ever again besides the fact that all he ever wants to talk about is golf which is like the third gayest sport ever. Besides, also: boring. Continue Reading »


May 18th 2012
Liberals, I say! Liberals, all of them!

Posted under American history & art & fluff & students

The Norton Anthology of American Literature

In “Why the Right Hates English,” Stephen J. Mexal analyzes why right-wingers have targeted college English classes and professors since at least William F. Buckley’s God and Man at Yale, when by his lights the curriculum remains focused on American and British literature in the main, and on uncontroversial authors to boot:

Every English literature class I have ever taken, taught, or observed has spent the vast majority of its time on exactly what all these writers claim is missing: the study of literature. In my experience, English classes do pretty much what they’ve always done. Students read literature closely, and then talk about how it works and what it means. The courses I teach in American literature today contain pretty much the same authors you would have expected 20 or 30 years ago: Twain, Emerson, Dickinson, Douglass, Melville, Wharton, and so on. Of course, people teach some newer authors, too (Toni Morrison and Don DeLillo tend to show up often), and some authors are not taught quite as frequently (D.H. Lawrence, for instance), but English departments are not eternal guardians of a frozen literary heritage. They change a little over time, sure, but they still do what you’d expect.

For that matter, [Andrew] Breitbart’s English departments did pretty much what you’d expect, too. He had to take two semesters of American literature at Tulane University, and as Mark Howard and Alexander Zaitchik have reported, students in those courses were assigned to read Emerson, Thoreau, Twain, Hawthorne, Stowe, and so on. Not much “cultural Marxist theory,” in other words.

What do all of the bolded names have in common, friends?  They’re all liberals!  Continue Reading »


May 16th 2012
Foily thought of the day

Posted under jobs & students & unhappy endings & weirdness

Online teaching is a money-making scheme, but it’s not the successful, credit-earning students who make the money for the institution.  What makes unis money are the online students who drop out after three, six, or seven weeks of frustration, inattention to the work, and/or a failing grade on a paper or major assignment.  If you know that (for example) 15 or 20 students out of a class capped at 40 will drop out, then you don’t have to actually staff classes as though they’re going to have 40 real students.  Every student who drops our or walks away from a course leaving money on the table is pure profit.

Maybe uni faculty have missed this point because we actually think that education should be about, you know, educating people, not rooting for them to drop out. Continue Reading »


May 15th 2012
A mitzvah: pass it on!

Posted under American history & happy endings & jobs & students

I had a phone call the other day from a historian I’ve never met who had assigned my book to a graduate seminar this quarter and who wanted to tell me how much he and his students liked my book.  (This was in a seminar in which they apparently scorched nearly every other book–unfairly, of course, but he passed this along to me because their appreciation for my book was so striking by comparison.*)  In the course of conveying these extravagant compliments, he said something very thoughtful and very wise:

It’s been a bad past few years here [at my university].  Since we’re not going to get recognition or support from our institutions for our work, I’ve decided to e-mail or call everyone whose book my students and I really like to thank them and let them know.

Isn’t that a great idea?  Let’s all do this!  Continue Reading »


May 14th 2012
Liberty’s Daughers and Sons: Celebrating the Legacy of Mary Beth Norton

Posted under American history & conferences & Gender & women's history

The conference planned in honor of Mary Beth Norton’s career now has a program posted online, as well as new information about accomodations for the big weekend, September 28 and 29, 2012.

This could be your chance to meet Tenured Radical, who’s chairing the first panel on Friday morning the 28th! Alas, I will not be able to be there myself, much as I had hoped. Continue Reading »


May 11th 2012
My fantasy

Posted under art & childhood & fluff & happy endings

You can have the coaches, the royal balls, the glass slippers, and personality-free Handsome Princes. For a library like that, I’d happily live with a beast. Continue Reading »


May 9th 2012
Why blogging still sucks, part II: a shande

Posted under American history & bad language & race & students & wankers

I haven’t written about this previously because I haven’t wanted to give this predictable charade the attention Naomi Schaefer Riley so desperately craves, but here she is, boo-hoo-hooing all the way to the bank with her next book deal in the works, I am sure.  Fannie and Lance wrote perceptively about this embarassment for the Chronicle of Higher Education last week–read their links if you want more background.  So, to summarize:

  1. Nasty, lazy blogger with an axe to grind insults the ongoing dissertations of a few graduate students on a Chronicle-sponsored blog. 
  2. The mostly academic audience for the Chronicle blogs takes offense not only at the a) racist invective of the original post, but b) at the fact that the writer came to her opinions on the basis of reading just the titles and brief abstracts of the dissertation.
  3. The Chronicle dismisses the nasty, lazy blogger, after foolishly trying to portray the blogger’s post as an “invitation to debate.”  (Since when do we debate the existence of academic fields?  Do we debate the existence of the Philosophy or History departments?  Does the Chronicle publish blog posts arguing that all biology departments are driven by their political agenda of evolution, instead of producing research based on creationism and intelligent design too?)
  4. The nasty, lazy blogger writes a screed complaining of her unfair victimization by typical left-wing closed-minded academics.

Here’s something from the nasty, lazy blogger that’s unintentionally funny.  Continue Reading »


Next »