• Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.


The Fruits of Debate Training…

Building an effective case.

November 30, 2015

The Girl is 11, and on the Debate team.  I mention this to give context for the letter she wrote us this weekend.

“Tech time,” in our house, refers to phone, kindle, or computer time.  

I haven’t changed any of what she wrote.  Enjoy!


Dear Mom and Dad,

Hello!  This letter contains many reasons why I should be allowed to have 2 hours of tech time a day, no more.

This is my first reason: Multiple pediatricians say that kids should be on screens for only 2 hours a day, according to www.commonsensemedia.com. If experienced pediatricians know this for a fact, why should 2 hours a day be harmful?

My second reason. When I do not have after school activities (which is every day except for Mondays and Fridays) there is not a lot else to do.  Sure, I can read, but it’s not like I can do that for 5 hours straight, and sometimes there’s nothing to read.  Also, sports require more than 2 people, and again, doing them for 5 hours would be tedious.  Besides, it’s getting cold out, and it is best to stay inside.

My third reason is that after getting home from a 6-and-a-half-hour day of school, all I want to do is relax with Minecraft, Youtube, and then a good book. I don’t want to be kicked off the phone in the middle of building a house or watching a video! Then I’d have to read for a much longer time than planned to pass the time, at which point it feels more like another school assignment than a fun activity.

Here is my fourth and final reason.  Longer tech time would not lower my grades!  You guys always make sure that I finish all my homework before going on the phone. As long as this continues to happen, there is no way that I’d miss an assignment, thus keeping my grades up.

These are the reasons I should be allowed to have 2 hours of tech time a day. Thank you for taking the time to read this.




As a writer, I see a family resemblance. She leans on underlining like I lean on parentheses, but otherwise, it’s recognizable.  

Two hours a day seemed excessive, but we couldn’t let a good persuasive essay go unrewarded, so we agreed to give her extra time on Fridays. “Using your words,” as they said in preschool, seems like a civilized way to settle things. She did, so we felt honor-bound to reciprocate in some positive way.

Not bad for eleven, I think...


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