- Denver second grade teacher Austen Kassinger says that struggle is inherent to learning, and that parents need to push their children to achieve by owning that struggle. After spending an entire evening working through five long-division problems in fourth grade, her mother told her to figure it out: “No, she did not think the assignment was unfair. No, she would not write a note to Mrs. Hall. And no, I absolutely could not stay home from school. Thus went her long-standing policy for schoolwork: If my sisters or I didn’t understand something, it was our job, not hers, to talk to the teacher. . . .I wonder what would have happened if my mother had taken the approach of the comedian Louis C.K., whose tweets about his children’s homework recently went viral: ‘Yet again I must tell my kid ‘don’t answer it. It’s a bad question.’ ’ ‘Who is writi[n]g these? And why?” “My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry. Thanks standardized testing and common core!’ My mother could have said some version of those things in response to my meltdown, but she didn’t. She chose not to blame the question, or the teacher, or the test. And because of her steady insistence that if I took ownership of my learning, I could master any subject, I recovered from long division and went on to take AP calculus, multivariable calculus and linear algebra — in high school.”
- This is the chief complaint I hear from K-12 teachers: lack of parental support for their work, or even resentment that parents undermine the standards they have set for their students. Yes, the same parents who make sure their children get to soccer and football practices and games on time, and force their entire families to eat crappy food and live in the backs of their minivans and SUVs to do so. I just don’t understand the priorities of my fellow Americans. At all.
- Dartmouth digital humanist Mary Flanagan writes about the power and the overwhelming distraction of laptops and other personal digital devices in class. She has encouraged the use of digital technologies in her classes to good effect, “[b]ut most days, there will come a time where faculty or guest speakers actually speak, or dialogue happens or provocative points are raised. It is then that students with technology-control issues immediately check out and check into Facebook or online games or shoe shopping. Unless they are directly involved in a hands-on activity for which they will be accountable in public by the end of class, it is much easier to give in to the presence of technology and lose the experience of direct engagement.”
- Do you ban the use of tablets, laptops, and/or phones in your classes? I have a blanket statement on my syllabus about not using digital devices to distracting ends in class, but I haven’t banned them outright. A few of my students every semester buy e-books and use their Kindles or tablets in class to access them as well as PDFs of assigned articles and primary sources. This year, several students have used their phones for this purpose as well. As for laptops, it’s only a few students at my university who use them in class, and my experience is that it’s both some of the high performers and some of the low performers who use laptops in class. That is, they work well for very organized and dedicated students, and they serve as vehicles for distraction for others. I have been of the opinion that it’s up to students to pay attention, or not–remembering full well all of the means by which I used to distract myself in college classes nearly 30 years ago. Also, if students are distracted by someone else’s laptop or tablet, it’s up to them to find a seat in which they can learn. But now I’m starting to think that digital distraction may play a role in the poor performance of my two most recent classes, and that I may need to start banning laptops.
Search Results for "football"
Did any of you see Tenured Radical’s post yesterday about the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue 2014, “Happiness is a Cold, Plastic Doll?” This year it features Barbie on the cover, but the same old soft-core porn inside.
The point of TR’s post was to comment on the cultural significance of SI’s annual swimsuit issue. She noted her confusion when she first saw it in the 1970s, a decade in which porn was pushing into the mainstream, and Playboy had come to her campus to take some photos for “Girls of the Ivy League.” (This was 1978; recall that most Ivies hadn’t admitted women until the early 1970s. Welcome to campus, ladies!) TR writes that the swimsuit issue wasn’t porn, but yet it “wasn’t not porn, because everything was exposed except, as Monty Python would say, the ‘naughty bits.’” And yet–
The women were definitely chosen for their porny qualities. No model was included who didn’t have (as they used to say back in the 1970s) a “great rack,” or was not able to spread her legs, tip her butt up alluringly for potential rear entry, or cock her head back in that time-honored fashion that says, “Come and get it, Buster Brown.”
But like those who reject changing the name of the Washington Football Team, the swimsuit issue is spoken of as a tradition. Hence it is harmless, right? Wrong. The swimsuit issue is the porn that gets circulated in public, as if it were not really porn, which to me – makes it more sexist than the tabletop magazines that just say brightly: “we’re all about porn!” It’s the porn that gets delivered at the office, and it’s the porn that people think it’s ok for little boys to have, like the Charlie’s Angels and Farrah Fawcett posters that were so popular back in the day, because it helps them not grow up to be fags.
This is not what all but four or five of us commenting on the post learned. Instead, several porndogs wanted to turn the comments thread on this post into a strange personal porny fantasy involving fetishizing women’s bodies and insulting feminists and feminism at the same time. This is a fair summary of their threadjack: Continue Reading »
Eric Foner, a distinguished historian of the Reconstruction-era of the United States, makes a terrific point in an interview with David Cutler at The Atlantic. (My apologies if the title of the article is his takeaway point: “‘You Have to Know History to Actually Teach It.’” ) To wit, Foner says:
I tell my students nowadays who are in graduate school and going on to become teachers—the number one thing is to have a real passion for your subject and to be able to convey that to your students. Obviously the content is important, but that’s not as unusual as being able to really convey why you think history is important. I think that’s what inspires students.
In a follow-up question, Foner explains this in terms of the deficits in historical education he sees at the high school level:
The first thing I would say is that we have to get away from the idea that any old person can teach history. A lot of the history teachers in this country are actually athletic coaches. I mention this in class, and students always say, “Oh yeah, Coach Smith, he taught my history course.” Why? Well, Coach Smith is the football coach, and in the spring he’s not doing much, and they say, “Well, put him in the history course, he can do that.”
They wouldn’t put him in a French course, or a physics course. The number-one thing is, you have to know history to actually teach it. That seems like an obvious point, but sometimes it’s ignored in schools. Even more than that, I think it’s important that people who are teaching history do have training in history. A lot of times people have education degrees, which have not actually provided them with a lot of training in the subject. Continue Reading »
Next week, I’ll start teaching a Senior Seminar called Life and Death in Early America. In reality, it’s mostly about death. I’ve thrown in some stuff about disease, dirt, starvation, cannibalism, abortion, and contraception, just to keep things lively (so to speak), but the fact is that there is a fascinating new literature on death in my field. Its common themes are: how the afterlife was imagined in different places, times, and cultures; how death was experienced and interpreted; and how the living cared for the dying and the dead.
Another of the key features of this emerging subfield is a focus on commemoration: how different cultures commemorate the dead, and why we remember some deaths and some of our dead and forget others. Thanks to Manti T’eo, his imaginary girlfriend’s imaginary death, a real St. Mary’s College student’s death, and to Melinda Henneberger of the Washington Post, I’ve got a terrific contemporary hook for when we talk about the politics of commemoration. Henneberger explains:
So many tears for a fake dead girl, but none for a real one. The death of Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o’s beautiful, brave girlfriend Lennay Kekau – widely reported by Sports Illustrated, CBS and many other media outlets — was all an elaborate hoax. So in response, my alma mater held the kind of emotional press conference for the fake dead girl that they never granted for the real one. As I’ve reported before, evidence that the University of Notre Dame covers up for sexual predators on the football team in hopes of winning some games has been mostly ignored. “Who can know?” my fellow alums asked, on their way to snap up some more “Play Like a Champion Today” tee-shirts ahead of the big game. But evidence that the school kept mum after learning that that the story of Te’o’s imaginary girlfriend, who as she lay dying urged him to fight on to victory anyway – gosh, just like the Gipper — was concocted from start to finish? Now that’s a national story, and a real gut-punch to fans, involving important matters like the pursuit of the Heisman Trophy. Continue Reading »
As I predicted earlier this week, the sneering, sexist dismissals of Hillary Clinton are back, baby. And just like in 2007 and 2008, it’s not right-wingers leading the charge–it’s people on the so-called “progressive” side of things. Meghan Daum writes in the Chicago Tribune today:
Clinton’s finale could hardly have been more dramatic. After falling ill with a stomach virus in early December, she fainted, suffered a concussion and landed in a hospital with a blood clot between her brain and skull. Meanwhile, her detractors drummed up conspiracy theories about “Benghazi fever,” and her supporters had a moment of genuine fear that Clinton might not be around to follow the script that so many have been writing for her over the last several years.
Really? Getting a tummy bug and a bump on the head is “more dramatic” than, for example, having a chronic heart condition (eventually requiring a heart transplant) and shooting a guy in the face? I thought that was a lot more dramatic, especially for someone considered perfectly fit to be a mechanical heartbeat away from the U.S. Presidency! And wait–what about choking on pretzel while watching a football game? Maybe that was more ridiculous than dramatic, but I’d hardly call Norovirus high drama. On to the comments about Clinton’s looks: Continue Reading »
Did anyone else read this provocative nothingburger of an essay? Michael Bérubé on “Why I Resigned the Paterno Chair:”
I read the Freeh report the morning it was released and proceeded to ignore every news-media outlet’s request to comment. A producer for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered called my English-department office, my office at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, my cellphone, and my home phone. For good measure, she e-mailed and tweeted me. That afternoon, I saw a cloud formation that pretty clearly seemed to be a smoke signal—”Professor Bérubé, this is NPR. Please call us RIGHT THIS SECOND.” Radio, TV, newsmagazines, and newspapers called and wrote. But I had nothing to say that day, and I have had nothing to say since. Until now.
If only he had clung to his original instincts! Continue Reading »
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 »
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 »
Tenured Radical offers some thoughts from pseudonymous guest blogger Herlin Hathaway, a Jamaican American graduate of a small, liberal arts college who’s midway through his first year in a Ph.D. program. The main point of the post is to get some insight into academic transitions like Hathaway’s, but to me the strongest point that came through in his piece was the overwhelming whiteness of the faculty he has worked with:
My advisors had always told me that there is something about being a black male in academia that attracts well intentioned but often embarrassing special attention from some white faculty. I had not experienced this while at Little College because my professors seem to have been the most socially conscious, social justice oriented and culturally sensitive teachers ever. They were never patronizing or imposing and always critical but kind. Indeed, there were other professors at Little College who were known for being inappropriate or “too much” but I never studied with them. I was not prepared to not have this happen in graduate school, however.
. . . . . . .
Prof. X is not so much inappropriate as he is overly paternalistic. Prof. X wants to “rescue” me intellectually, which is both nice because he is supporting my work, but weird because sometimes he talks down to me. In class, Prof. X points to me when he discusses any and all things “African American.” (This I can at least understand because my work is on the African American family but it has become a running joke in the class because he doesn’t realize he does it.)
Prof. X once asked me if I played basketball because I’m so much taller than him. I told him I used to play football. In front of the whole class, Prof. X then proceeded to tell me how he graciously helped (almost rescued) his previous inner city black student-athlete from his inability to read and write and guided the young man to become a multiple fellowship award winner (Fulbright, White House Internships etc.).
Hathaway’s experience is probably all too common given the absence of faculty of color on most faculties, let alone in top graduate programs. Continue Reading »
No, I haven’t renounced my longstanding ressentiment and mistrust of football at any level of play, from Pop Warner through the NFL. It’s an appalling waste of money that pretty much sums up nearly everything that’s wrong with our culture, in universities and in the nation at large: profligacy, the wage gap, male supremacy, obsession with inconsequential trivia, anti-intellectualism, and the abuse of women. But, I’ve go no problem whatsoever with Tim Tebow. I don’t care about his public religiosity (although it’s not really my style). I’m impressed that a nice-looking, successful, and wealthy young man has taken a vow of chastity before marriage, not because I value chastity in particular, but because this is also effectively a vow not to abuse women sexually and not to rape them.
Even by comparison to most other professional or college athletes, football players have particularly poor records of abusing women, raping them, or even as we learned last year about Tebow’s teammate Perrish Cox, raping an unconscious woman, and denying it even after a DNA test of her fetus indicated that he was its father. Continue Reading »