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May 14, 2008
Although I am not a preacher, for the past dozen years or so I've spent my Mother's Day in a black robe. A mortarboard with a tassel hangs awkwardly on my head and about 700 other people around me have the same attire. We file in to music we all know by heart and we sit through speeches and names, endless names, until, at the end, the very end, a large portion of the group throw their mortarboards in the air. At that precise moment, the promise of a new beginning swells up in every person in attendance.
May 14, 2008
The story of the Norfolk State professor fired for failing too many students (see IHE's story here) is a kind of inkblot test. My own reaction is conflicted.
May 14, 2008
The end of every semester is, in a sense, a finality; all those minds I’ve been living in for four months withdraw suddenly and leave only silence. But it’s also false closure, a pretense that students have learned some difficult thing once and for all, when I know good and well that Dr. Trinkle will sit reading their lab reports next fall in his office on the engineering quad, shaking his fist in the direction of the English Building.
May 13, 2008
Over at Easily Distracted, Tim Burke has a fascinating piece outlining his proposed hypothetical liberal arts college. Among other things, it does away with academic departments, favoring faculty who (as I read it) draw liberally on different fields of study, and encouraging students to become intellectual free agents. (He uses the term 'polymaths.') It's worth reading carefully.
May 13, 2008
Last month my son’s first grade class did a unit on plants, seeds, and fruits. When his teacher sent home an assignment to collect a dozen different kinds of seeds, I was more excited than my son was. Since I was a little girl, I’ve collected seeds and seedpods from all over the world, and I offered to lend my collection to the classroom.
May 13, 2008
Sunday's New York Times Magazine cover story by Michael Sokolove about girls with ACL injuries has me thinking. The article claimed that girls are more prone to ACL injuries than boys who do the same sports because of their anatomy -- their wider hips, their stretchier ligaments -- but that they could perhaps prevent injury if they learned to "move ... more like a boy."
May 13, 2008
At her request, for Mother's Day I got TW a couple of little figurines that don't have facial features. TG was fascinated.TG: "Why don't they have faces?"DD: "So they can look like anybody."TG: "But every people has faces!"Dartmouth professor sues her students. I've made several attempts to write about this, but they've all ended quickly in pounding headaches. Are we sure this isn't a prank?Tableau from today: Walking past a classroom, I saw a professor sitting at the front table.
May 12, 2008
Back over Xmas/New Year's, my daughter introduced me to Dracula's Riddle, which took me about a month's worth of spare time to solve. Chat fora spring up around such inventive timewasters, and I consulted a couple of them in the process.
May 11, 2008
A friend who works at a respected public research university just sent me a copy of an all-campus email he received in which the Business Services department reminds everyone that, due to budget constraints, nobody is allowed to use university money to buy bottled water. (The only allowable exceptions would be when either the tap water supply to a building or campus has been cut off altogether, or when it has been diagnosed as unsafe. Naturally, the memo goes on to detail the multiple reports the university files annually to attest to the safety of its water.)
May 11, 2008
This week’s letter addresses a common question of PhD students considering leaving academia – where does one even start exploring non-academic career options? The letter reads:

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