Archive for October, 2012

October 11th 2012
Baa Ram U. featured again on NPR

Posted under local news & students

Clark Bldg., with Historiann’s office highlighted in red. NPR photo by Becky Lettenberger.

Now, this is how you build a national reputation–prominent and flattering placement in free media, rather than building $250 million stadiums.  NPR’s Renee Montagne aired two interviews yesterday and today on Morning Edition featuring people connected to Colorado State University and its local community.  Yesterday morning, she spoke with CSU Political Science majors, and today she talked to local Latinas about the presidential election in our swing state.  And guess what?  Montagne didn’t come here because she had heard about the famously losing record of our famously losing football team with its famously overpaid coach! My guess is that she rooted her stories here because of the work of political scientist and local pundit John Straayer, a faculty member who built his 46 year long career here.

NPR visited a few weeks ago on an unusual rainy day, so the photo at left was probably taken on another day.  The view is of the Clark building, home of several departments in the College of Liberal Arts including Poli Sci and History.  In fact, the NPR photographer got a shot of my office window, highlighted in red at left.  (I must not have been on campus that day, as I usually have the narrow central window cranked open.)  Continue Reading »

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October 8th 2012
Hark, a job! Assistant Professor, modern Britain, Baa Ram U.

Posted under European history & jobs & local news

FYI, from the h-net job advertisement:

The Department of History at Colorado State University invites applications for the position of Assistant Professor of History, with a concentration in modern Britain (c. 1700 through the twentieth century, including the British Empire).  This is an entry-level tenure-track position, beginning August 16, 2013. The successful candidate will be appointed untenured and at the rank of Assistant Professor.  Required qualifications include Ph.D. in History at time of appointment; a demonstrated record of scholarship and promise of publication in area of concentration; a demonstrated record of teaching excellence; and a demonstrated ability to work effectively with faculty, students, and the public.  Preferred qualifications include ability to place the history of the British Isles into a European and wider world context.  Responsibilities include teaching undergraduate courses in the area of concentration and graduate courses in European history, as well as introductory-level survey course in Western Civilization or World History; pursuing research and publication projects; providing academic advising to undergraduate and graduate students; and fulfilling appropriate service assignments for the department, college, and university. Continue Reading »

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October 5th 2012
MOOCs and the longue duree

Posted under American history & students & technoskepticism

In a recent e-mail conversation with a friend who’s a few decades older than me, he reassured me that online education was a fad that will pass soon enough.  He has seen these predictions before with correspondence courses, then with TV in the 1950s and  1960s, and then with distance learning via closed-circuit TV and cable in the 1980s and 1990s.  Via Jonathan Rees, Nick Carr runs down the “Prehistory of the MOOC,” from the 1880s to the present:

Mail: Around 1885, Yale professor William Rainey Harper, a pioneer of teaching-by-post, said, “The student who has prepared a certain number of lessons in the correspondence school knows more of the subject treated in those lessons, and knows it better, than the student who has covered the same ground in the classroom.” Soon, he predicted, “the work done by correspondence will be greater in amount than that done in the class-rooms of our academies and colleges.”

Phonograph: In an 1878 article on “practical uses of the phonograph,” the New York Times predicted that the phonograph would be used “in the school-room in training children to read properly without the personal attention of the teacher; in teaching them to spell correctly, and in conveying any lesson to be acquired by study and memory. In short, a school may almost be conducted by machinery.”

Movies: “It is possible to teach every branch of human knowledge with the motion picture,” proclaimed Thomas Edison in 1913. “Our school system will be completely changed in 10 years.” Continue Reading »

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October 3rd 2012
Arne Duncan: quite possibly the dopiest Secretary of Education we’ve ever seen

Posted under American history & childhood & class & jobs & local news & students & technoskepticism

Yesterday, Arne Duncan announced that he wants all schoolchildren to switch to electronic textbooks as fast as possible.  Because:  South Korea!  Or something.

Apparently (and unsurprisingly!) he hasn’t talked to any teachers or student teachers recently, many of whom don’t even have enough of the boring, old codex technology to send books home with their students so they can read and do homework at home, or anywhere outside of class.  A grad student of mine told me that when she did her student teaching in the Big Thompson school district last spring in Loveland, Colorado, this was the reality she was expected to cope with.  Oh, yeah:  she also said that half the students didn’t have internet access at home, so she and her cooperating teacher couldn’t assign them any online reading or schoolwork outside of class, and they had no budget for photocopies either. Continue Reading »

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October 1st 2012
What would happen to faculty if we failed 80% of the time? Or, being a $1.5 million coach means never having to say you’re sorry.

Posted under American history & Gender & local news & unhappy endings & wankers

Imagine, if you will, that my university recruited and hired a superstar professor and paid her $150,000 a year.  (This would make her among the highest paid of all faculty here, I am sure.)  Imagine that this professor then issued failing grades to 80% of her students, failed to publish 80% of her books and papers, and failed to do 80% of all service assignments and advising assigned to her.  Do you think that a professor  with this kind of a record would be rewarded with even more university resources such as a $25 million new lab or a $25 million donation to a research group that she led?

Now imagine that the sums I’ve given you above have been multiplied by ten.  Are you still with me?  Do you think that Professor Jerky McJerksalot would still have a job here?  Continue Reading »

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