Higher Education Webinars

Mama PhD

Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

December 8, 2010 - 4:32am
No time of the year more clearly reminds me of my ineptitude as a correspondent than the Christmas season. For as long as I can remember, I’ve intended every year to send out holiday cards. Some years I’ve managed to send one or two before Christmas, but usually if I send anything we’re well into the New Year. “Hope your year is off to a good start,” I’ll write. One year I set up a special card-holder to display all the Christmas cards we might receive.
December 6, 2010 - 8:02pm
Classes are over, so I’m breathing a sigh of relief, right? Well, in a word, no. Now we hold all the meetings that could wait until the end of the semester. Now we clean up the mess in the office made by being too busy to do so all semester. Now we grade. Now we get sick (not on my to-do list, but my son spent two days at home last week with a nasty cold, and I fear it may not be far off for me, either). Now people call with questions that have been answered three times already, but not recently. Now it’s time to send out reminders for next semester.
December 5, 2010 - 3:53pm
When I was growing up, a vacation meant two weeks in Florida visiting my grandparents. Delray Beach, with its palm trees, warm beaches in midwinter, poolside restaurants and hibiscus hedges, seemed like another planet to this suburban NY kid. Most of my friends also visited relatives over school breaks; some of the more affluent went skiing in Vermont or Colorado, or on a Caribbean cruise. Only occasionally did we hear about someone going to Europe or Israel. Africa and Asia really were like other planets, as far as we were concerned.
December 2, 2010 - 7:40pm
I met a fellow math professor at a conference several weeks ago who is teaching a class on the idea of infinity. He told me of a story he tells his class about how difficult the idea of "infinity" can be. He described a class that a student wants to sign up for with an infinite number of seats. There are, however, already an infinite number of students enrolled, so each seat is already taken. A new student comes into that class, and wants to enroll, only to find every seat taken.
December 2, 2010 - 8:14am
Last night, after a long day at work, I collapsed on the couch with my husband and six-year old daughter to watch A Christmas Carol. It was our daughter’s first time watching it and she was a bit scared by the ghosts, especially the mute and shadowy figure of Christmas future. Her face was a picture of childish delight at the end when Scrooge dances, giddy with happiness on Christmas morning, the ghosts gone and the day bright and full of possibilities for change. Family members are still willing to forgive and Tiny Tim is still capable of being saved.
December 1, 2010 - 11:18am
For my husband and myself, our Thanksgiving weekend was pretty low-key. Turkey at our friends’ house (we only had to cook side dishes!), catch-up on work (our computers are forever on), some yard work, neighborhood walks, a family board game. For my 6th grade daughter, there was a school project. The project was to build a totem pole to represent her family. Guidelines: no more than 5 inches diameter; 12-24 inches high; needs to be stable; use more than two different kinds of materials (clay, wood, cereal boxes, pipe cleaners); “Think outside the box”.
November 29, 2010 - 8:44pm
This past Sunday was the first day of Advent, the beginning of a new liturgical year in the Christian calendar. Because I sing in a church choir I am attuned to the liturgical calendar, which makes for a little confusion at this time of year. On the one hand, the school year is winding down — we have only one more week of classes before exams. How can it be the new year? On the other hand, we’re gearing up at the same time, for next semester. I’m wrapping things up on one part of my desk, and making new plans on the other.
November 28, 2010 - 2:54pm
When a friend first alerted me to this article in the Wall Street Journal as possible material for this column, I rejected the idea. It was just Erica Jong, I thought, doing what she usually does — couching interesting ideas in attention-getting hyperbole. So what?
November 24, 2010 - 8:08am
My part of the world, Vancouver, B.C., is full of weather wimps, and I count myself among them. We like our mild winters with occasional drizzle and no more than a 10-degree (5 degrees, if we’re talking Celsius) daily temperature fluctuation, thank you. In the summer, if the temperature rises above 80, we complain about the heat. There’s a great term used by biologists that applies to us: we’re stenothermic, able to tolerate only a narrow range of temperatures. And so, this week’s record cold in Vancouver (about 18° F for a daytime high today) is catching many of us off guard.
November 22, 2010 - 8:36pm
Sometimes teaching is a lot like baking. It helps to have a goal, and to have the basics down, but then it also helps to be flexible. Sometimes you just don’t have the necessary ingredients (the motivated students? The right mix of readings?), but you still have to teach the class. Baking’s often a lot like that for me.

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