Higher Education Webinars
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.
February 14, 2011 - 9:19pm
The Boy and The Girl attend a pretty good public school district. It’s in a working/middle class suburb, and it punches slightly above its socioeconomic weight in test scores. But it’s hardly rich, and it’s not immune to the recession.Last week the superintendent mentioned at a public meeting (that The Wife attended) that with federal stimulus funds expiring, the district faces a deficit of unprecedented size. She outlined a series of user fees and layoffs that, taken together, might just barely get the job done if things don’t get any worse.
February 13, 2011 - 9:35pm
Last week’s piece in IHE by “Young Philosopher” about replacing first-round conference interviews with Skype interviews has stuck in my craw for the last few days. I’m increasingly convinced that he’s on to something, but with a few key qualifications. (I have no ‘brand loyalty’ on this one. I’ll just refer to Skype because it’s convenient, but any synchronous, interactive web video platform would accomplish the same thing.)
February 10, 2011 - 9:34pm
Achieving the Dream is an initiative sponsored by the Lumina Foundation and spearheaded by one of my personal heroes, Kay McClenney. It’s an attempt to get community colleges across the country to build ‘cultures of evidence’ about student success. It relies heavily on data-driven decisionmaking, with the goal of prodding colleges to move from the ways things have always been done to the ways that things actually succeed. It’s a great idea, and I’m a fan. (For the record, my college is not an ATD school.)
February 9, 2011 - 9:56pm
This one is both a confession and a thank you.Every once in a while, the level of toxicity in this role gets high enough that I have to seek out some colleagues, close the door, and get a pep talk. There’s just no other way to stay sane.The best pep talks manage to combine a view of the big picture with just enough credible observations of strengths to make it seem manageable. They’re about the situation, as seen from a helpful distance.
February 8, 2011 - 9:48pm
I overhear a fair amount of student conversation, just walking the hallways and occasionally eating in the cafeteria. Words I haven’t heard: Egypt, Mubarek, Obama, oil, revolution, war.Words I have heard: class, facebook, job, work, girlfriend, assorted cursingAdmittedly, this is an unscientific sample, and far from comprehensive. Somewhere, someone may be having an earnest, searching discussion of, say, American foreign policy. But I haven’t seen or heard it.
February 7, 2011 - 8:52pm
Actual conversation from last night, at the kitchen table. The Girl is writing out her Valentine’s Day cards, and The Boy is working on a report on Thomas Edison.The Wife: TB, do you have to do valentines?TB: Well, we don’t have to, but we can. If we do, we have to do one for everyone in the class.TW: Do you want to?TB: (shrugging): I guess so.TW: Is there anyone outside of your class you’d like to give one to?(pause)TB (smirking): I choose not to disclose that information.
February 6, 2011 - 9:07pm
I’ll skip yet another weather-related rant, except to use it as a metaphor. Those of us in chilly climes know that a warm day in winter is very much a mixed blessing; yes, it helps clear the backlog of snow and ice, but inevitably some of the resulting water is blocked from going where it should, so it refreezes. Refrozen stuff is often even worse than the original, since it’s smoother and harder to see. (The usual term of art is “black ice,” since you can see black pavement underneath.) I’m wondering if there’s a way to prevent refreezing of campus initiatives.
February 3, 2011 - 9:13pm
- Twitter’s coverage of the revolution in Egypt has been revelatory. Jillian York (@jilliancyork) has singlehandedly done a better job than all of the tv networks and newspapers combined. I started doing Twitter as a lark, but it’s really proving itself. Katrina Gulliver (@katrinagulliver) is emerging as a breakout star of the medium. Highly recommended.
February 2, 2011 - 9:09pm
Still marooned by snow -- seriously, guys, the bloom is off the rose -- I had the chance to devour Academically Adrift, by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa. It’s a study of student performance on the Collegiate Learning Assessment exam, focusing particularly on demonstrated critical thinking skills. It’s the book that made headlines with its claim that most students don’t learn anything during their first two years of college. As someone who works at a two-year college, I considered the gauntlet thrown.
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