Search Results for "football"

December
1st 2011
More thoughts on Penn State: a former insider’s view

Posted under American history & jobs & unhappy endings

Today’s guest post is from a former faculty member at Penn State.  Ze talks about the hierarchical administrative structure of the university, and wonders if it might be part of an explanation for why top administrators at Penn State made the catastrophically bad decision to harbor a child rapist and to conceal his crimes. 
 

Are u ready for some football?

I began my career at Penn State and spent seven years there, getting tenure, before I moved on.  It’s been awful to watch the events of the last month play out.

Most of the commentary about the child sex abuse allegations against the former football coach and the administrative failure to stop it have focused on the corrupting influence of football — on the health and safety of women and children; on academic affairs; on the budget as a whole.  These critiques are important.

But I never had a lot of contact with the football program.  No football player ever enrolled in one of my classes, but perhaps that was because of the courses I taught, which are about gender and poverty.  (Not so popular with male athletes?)  Football wasn’t a world I knew well.

I did, however, have contact with the university administration, and the way I see it, it deserves more attention in the analysis of what went wrong at Penn State. Continue Reading »

18 Comments »

November
16th 2011
A few final thoughts on Penn State’s Empire of Rape

Posted under American history & Gender & jobs & students & unhappy endings & women's history

It’s gratifying to see so many sports writers and other male commentators decrying the culture of corruption that big-time men’s college sports breeds.  Really it is.  However, feminists have pointed out for decades that football teams are dangerous to women and that women get raped and their rapes covered up and denied by these same teams and their all-male, extraordinarily well-compensated leadership. 

But, I guess that’s what women are for:  rape.  Regardless, I’m truly grateful that so many people are eager to take a courageous stand against the rape of little boys.  I just wish they were equally vigilant about the rape of teenaged and adult women.

Once again, feminists will get zero credit for having raised these issues repeatedly about big-time college sports, but this is nothing new.  Continue Reading »

24 Comments »

November
10th 2011
Brief thoughts on Penn State

Posted under American history & childhood & Gender & students & unhappy endings

I don’t have any special knowledge of what’s going on there–to be clear, I went to Penn by the way, which is in Philadelphia and on the entirely other end of the state of Pennsylvania.  I’ve never been within 60 miles of State College, to my knowledge.  (Like most Penn grads, it rankles me to be associated with Penn State.)  But readers have written to ask when I’ll comment on the accused child rapist who was protected by the football program there, so here goes:

  1. I’ve seen a lot of commentary to the effect that “institutions do a poor job of policing themselves.”   That may be a part of the problem, however, it seems clear to me that this is more of a gender problem than anything.  The facts of the case so far show that men are reluctant in the extreme to interfere with the sexual prerogatives of other men, even when their sexual behavior is criminal.  Furthermore, this is not just a comment on the institutional power of the football program at Penn State–all of the university administrators accused of crimes and/or who lost their jobs yesterday are all men.  I would expect that a female AD and/or a woman vice president or president of the university would have acted swiftly on eyewitness accounts of child rape and would have called law enforcement, not because women are more virtuous or braver than men, but simply because women who make it into positions of authority tend to be more willing to blow the whistle than their male peers.  Continue Reading »

69 Comments »

November
5th 2011
Tony Grafton on the higher education crisis, and your turn to talk back!

Posted under American history & book reviews & jobs & students

Via my colleague Nathan Citino who reads the New York Review of Books, we learn that Tony Grafton has written a thoughtful review of the raft of books on the “crisis” of higher education in the United States published recently.  He dislikes the polemics that pick one enemy–the lazy-a$$ed faculty who allegedly never teach, or the inflated ranks of administrators who allegedly suck up six-figure salaries without contributing to the core mission of education.

However, Grafton appears to agree with Historiann’s analysis of the free farm clubs that unis run for the NFL and the NBA, reserving some choice disdain for the fact that ”head football and basketball coaches earn millions and their assistants hundreds of thousands for running semiprofessional teams. Few of these teams earn much money for the universities that sponsor them, and some brutally exploit their players.”  But even I must acknowledge the fact that even if Baa Ram U. fired the coaches and told the men’s football and basketball teams to hold a bake sale if they want uniforms and travel money, it’s unlikely that the money saved would actually be invested in rebuilding the faculty or otherwise improving the quality of classroom education we offer.  (I still think it’s a fantasy worth preserving, however!)

The problem as Grafton sees it is not just that students buy into the Animal House vision of student life, with an emphasis on a social life built around sports and alcohol and drug-consumption rather than an intellectual life built around independent study.  He argues that American universities themselves foster the Animal House sensibility, rewarding faculty only for their research and never for their teaching, and providing a range of amenities for students that lure them anywhere but the classroom or the library: Continue Reading »

57 Comments »

September
28th 2011
(Re-)inventing the educratic wheel

Posted under American history & students & technoskepticism & unhappy endings & wankers

All new! This time with sparkles!

Do you ever get the impression that there truly is nothing new under the sun in education?  Do you ever think that we end up re-inventing the wheel, year after year?  Well, this American Radio Works documentary “Don’t Lecture Me” won’t disabuse you of those suspicions!

I promise, I sat down Monday night to listen to it with an open mind.  Although it teased me that it would show me how lecturing in college classrooms is a complete waste of time compared to the New! Improved! Revolutionary! way to teach developed by some physicists, I came away with the valuable insight that I’m already doing these things, and I bet you are too.

First of all, did you know that lecturing to your students for 50 or 75 minutes in a monotone voice without permitting any student questions or interaction isn’t the best way to teach your subject?  Amazing.  This is what this program defines as “the traditional college lecture.”  The takeaway point is that there needs to be active learning in the classroom, viz., expecting students to read books outside of class; asking students to write brief responses to their assigned readings in class; asking students to answer questions or solve problems when you are explaining key concepts (or “lecturing”) to them; and asking students to explain key concepts to each other during class.  Did you know that exactly zero percent of college professors in “traditional universities” do this right now? Continue Reading »

35 Comments »

May
11th 2011
Gingrich prexy run reflects his sense that history is a superhero comic book plus decoder ring

Posted under American history & childhood & European history & wankers & weirdness

Photo lifted from Roxie's World

UPDATED BELOW

Matt Bai of the New York Times claims in this brief piece that “Gingrich Run Reflects His Sense of History.”  Don’t laugh America–Bai says this isn’t a vanity run for president to get his own teevee deal:

[H]aving spent a fair amount of time with Mr. Gingrich for a cover story I wrote for The New York Times Magazine two years ago, I never had much doubt that he was serious this time around. The thing you have to understand about Newt is that he is, by training and temperament, an avid historian, and he is as true a believer as you will ever find in the concept of destiny.

An Army brat growing up, flat-footed and near-sighted, Mr. Gingrich was the perpetual new kid in school who wasn’t going to star on the football team. But he found an outlet for his passion in the histories he read, especially those concerning great heroes. He imagined himself — and, reasonably or not, still does — as a lead protagonist in the history of his own time, a consequential character in the grand American narrative.

In particular, Mr. Gingrich is a devotee of the historian Arnold J. Toynbee, who meditated on the concept of “departure and return” — the idea that great leaders have to leave (or be banished from) their kingdoms before they can better themselves and return as conquering heroes. One of Newt’s heroes, the French general and statesman Charles de Gaulle, embodies just this kind of romantic narrative, having spent 12 years out of power before returning to lead his country. So does Ronald Reagan, who traveled the country after losing his bid for the Republican nomination in 1976, then came roaring back to win it all four years later. Continue Reading »

45 Comments »

November
27th 2010
“Science Cheerleaders”: feminist FAIL

Posted under American history & Bodily modification & childhood & class & Dolls & Gender & GLBTQ & Intersectionality & jobs & race & students & the body & weirdness & women's history

When I read Zuska’s comments about Science Cheerleader, I thought Science Cheerleader had to be a parody.  Apparently it’s not–but it is in fact a total joke, because (for example) it suggests that “What Everyone Needs To Know To Be A (sic) Science Literate” is the cheerleaders from the Philadelphia 76ers in spangly bras and short-shorts reading the words of an actual physicist.  The actual physicist does not don a bra-top and short-shorts and read the science concepts himself.  I wonder why not?  Maybe because he understands that it’s never a mark of status to appear publicly in a state of undress?  (In my period and field, for example, the only people portrayed as unclothed are enslaved people–and they’re almost never represented as wearing clothing at all, whereas 17th and 18th century portraits of white people are more portraits of clothing than of individuals.  Clothes make the man, indeed!)

Anyway, back to science.  Zuska writes:

Okay, let’s play what if. What if the Science Cheerleaders are responsible for making just one girl stick with her science & math classes – isn’t it all worthwhile then?

Let’s say the Science Cheerleaders do keep one girl in advanced science or math classes, but make three other girls feel like they have to pornulate themselves in order to be 21st Century Fembot Compliant While Doing Science, and make five d00ds feel like it is perfectly okay to hang up soft porn pictures of sexay hawt babes in the lab and harass some colleague because hawt science women WANT to be appreciated for being sexay and smart! – is it still worth it?

She then goes on to describe an effective outreach program she worked with to get more girls, especially girls who would be first-generation college students, into STEM fields.   Continue Reading »

16 Comments »

September
21st 2010
She opened the press release all by herself!

Posted under American history & bad language & book reviews & jobs & students & technoskepticism & unhappy endings & wankers

At least a dozen ways to stoopid, by Froma Harrop:

Bill Gates recently predicted: “Five years from now on the Web for free you’ll be able to find the best lectures in the world. It will be better than any single university.”

A year at a university costs an average $50,000, the Microsoft founder and Harvard dropout said last month. The Web can deliver the same quality education for $2,000.

Yet American colleges continue to float in the bubble of economic exceptionalism once occupied by Detroit carmakers.  American median income has grown 6.5 times over the past 40 years, but the cost of attending one’s own state college has ballooned 15 times. This kind of income-price mismatch haunted the housing market right before it melted down.

.       .       .       .       .       .       .       .      

As the father of a student at Kenyon College told me, “It’s like driving a new Corvette to Ohio every September, leaving the keys and taking the bus home.”

This reminds me of that old Calgon bath salts commercialinternets, take us away!!!  So why does that father choose to do what Harrop implies is the economically irrational thing and continue to drive that Corvette every autumn to Ohio?  Gee, I wonder! Continue Reading »

30 Comments »

September
12th 2010
The net effect of the “high cost of higher ed” argument

Posted under American history & book reviews & class & local news & students & wankers

This is the first of the 2010-2011 academic year’s series, Excellence Without Money(a term coined by the b!tchez at Roxie’s World in their series on the high cost of not funding higher education.)  For the full archives at both blogs, click away on those links, darlings.

I’ve been doing a little thinking about the effects of the arguments we’re seeing everywhere about the high cost of higher education.  Complaints about the cost of college, and the rate at which it’s increased in the past two decades, are always a major part of the argument in the slew of books published recently urging major reform of American universities.  Strangely enough, none of these books suggest that the federal and state governments should once again subsidize higher education at the rate it did during the Cold War, nor do they advocate ripping out computer labs and IT departments, which are the two biggest reasons college costs more than it used to.  (From 1986-90, my “laptop computer” was a $2.99 multi-subject notebook that I bought at the beginning of each semester.  If you started college before the mid-1990s, I’m betting that that was your “laptop,” too.) 

Instead, their arguments boil down once again to attacks on the faculty–especially tenured radicals who absurdly expect to be paid a living wage for their years of education, work, and expertise.  Oddly, all of these books have chosen to ignore how universities have slashed the costs of faculty labor by turning tenure-track and tenured jobs into positions held by adjuncts, who are paid as little as $3,000 per course and are at-will employees.  Distressingly, because of some recent resignations and regular faculty on leave, my department is this year an adjunct-majority department.  (But because it’s been years since regular faculty produced more student credit hours than our adjuncts, so perhaps this is less of a milestone than I suggested in the previous sentence.  For several years, it’s my understaning that two popular lecturers in my department produced fully half of the entire department’s FTEs.)

The problem with these articles–aside from their one-sided arguments that somehow faculty are the big piggies at the trough, not the NFL and NBA farm clubs (a.k.a. the “football teams” and the “men’s basketball teams”), not CEO-level multimillion-dollar salaries for university presidents and football and basketball coaches, and not the luxury condominiums that now pass for stadiums and dormatories–is that they’re written by upper-middle class journalists and writers who all attended and sent–or aspire to send–their children to the top 5 or 10 percent of the most selective, and usually private, colleges and universities.  Now, if the only universities you’d consider sending your children to cost $30,000-$55,000 a year, your world is very different from the world the vast majority of Americans inhabit.  But these are the people who are driving this “debate” in the op-ed pages of the New York Times and your local newspaper.

Take look at Baa Ram U.’s fee schedule for the 2010-11 school year, where tuition and fees are still less than $7,000 a year.  At an average courseload of 10 3-credit classes per year, that’s less than $700 a class.  How strange that the low cost of higher education in universities like mine doesn’t drive the debate!  Continue Reading »

39 Comments »

September
7th 2010
Tuesday roundup: drunken a$$hats edition

Posted under art & bad language & jobs & local news & students & unhappy endings & wankers

Kiss my chap$, little boys!

Howdy, friends:  I was away for a long holiday weekend, but now I’m back in the saddle and ready to ride on out.  Lots of great news and views in the blogosphere–so I’ll let your fingers do the clicking while I catch up on my day job!

  • First, Tenured Radical has a great post up (and a great comments thread) about the “culture” of campus drinking and the curious blindness or acceptance we adults have for the very real personal and financial consequences.  We like to think it’s the under-25s, but it isn’t.  I can attest to that–this weekend in Denver it was the annual Rocky Mountain showdown between in-state rivals, the University of Colorado and Baa Ram U.  When we were out and about on Saturday night, it wasn’t just the under-25s making the 16th St. Mall Ride smell like a brewery.  There were plenty of middle-aged people literally stumbling around town in their Buffs or Rams jerseys.  (Sometimes even with their grade-school aged–or younger–kids!  No joke.  That kind of shocked me.)  Pathological drinking doesn’t come from nowhere–and I’ve heard that local hospitals go on Red Alert in many college towns during Parents’ Weekend–not because the student drinking is any worse, but because a lot of parents drink themselves into stupors that require hospitalization! 
  • But, at least the more dedicated and experienced drinkers among us know how to be reasonably discreet.  One thing I think that has changed about student drinking since I was in college is the sense of entitlement today’s students have not just to drink on campus or in their houses and dorms, but to behave as though the campus extends to wherever they happen to be, subjecting innocents to public drunkenness and really trashy behavior.  I had the unfortunate experience of swimming in a rooftop pool Saturday afternoon at what I thought was a pretty swank hotel, when I found myself in the middle of some a$$holes’ beer commercial fantasy:  Continue Reading »

12 Comments »

« Prev - Next »