Higher Education Webinars

Mama PhD

Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

June 17, 2010 - 9:19pm
I was probably teaching statistics the second or third time around when I finally stumbled upon a good understanding the idea of "random." I had once thought that randomness meant a complete lack of predictability, that there was actually no pattern underlying outcomes. However, I eventually realized that predictability is exactly what randomness is about. If I flip a coin, I can expect it to come up "heads" half of the time, thus giving me a "random variable" that is actually quite predictable. For example, out of ten flips of a coin, one might expect five of them to come up heads.
June 17, 2010 - 8:02am
For the next few weeks my two teenagers are with their dad and my contact with them is primarily digital. Unfortunately, I can't get Nick or Katie interested in ‘Skype-ing’ with me except when we 'chat’ virtually with their cousins who live in England. We take turns walking laptops around our houses, pointing them at children lounging in bed, or aiming it at the new pet — delighted with our free international communication. I love seeing that my sister’s house is messier than mine…
June 16, 2010 - 8:14am
I didn’t write last week because I was overwhelmed in getting ready for our annual migration west. We spend the summer months doing research, writing, traveling and visiting our west coast-located parents and extended family. Especially because we live so far from family, this summer flexibility is one of the greatest perks of an academic career, as far as I’m concerned (I’ve blogged about this before).
June 14, 2010 - 9:28pm
The summer after my junior year of high school I got a summer job in a resort town in Maine. It wasn’t my first summer job — I’d worked previously as a day camp counselor and a babysitter — but it was my first summer job away from home. The job wasn’t glamorous: I worked four hours a day cleaning a restaurant. My brother got me the job; he was doing outside work at the same resort, and when their regular cleaner hurt her ankle he mentioned that he had a sister sitting at home with no job. A few days later I was on my way.
June 13, 2010 - 3:40pm
The New York City public schools are officially open until June 28, but my son is off as of last week. The next two weeks are dedicated to preparing for and taking New York State Regents’ Exams, and he has taken and passed all of his state exams already. He’s going to baseball camp for a week in July, he plays first base for a competitive team with an intensive summer schedule, and he plans to take weekly sitar lessons, but otherwise he’s a free agent until Labor Day.
June 10, 2010 - 9:23pm
In the center of Boston is the Boston Common, where there are several small statues of the ducklings made famous by the book “Make Way for Ducklings”. Long before I became a parent, I bought a painting from a local Boston artist that depicted the statues of the ducklings from that children's book. In a decision of radical faith in the future, and one that involved finding a few extra dollars that I, as a graduate student, didn’t really have at the time, I bought it and decided that if I was ever to have a child, I would hang it in their room.
June 10, 2010 - 6:48am
Yesterday was my daughter’s last day of kindergarten. As we sat in the tiny chairs and looked through her portfolio of bright-colored drawings, stapled-together stories and assorted projects, we noticed a distinct trend: most of her drawings and quite a few of her narratives feature her older sister, Ali, drawn as a smiling stick figure with wavy hair or mentioned with lots of hearts overhead. My step-daughter, Ali, is 17 and lives with her mother, my husband’s ex-wife, about two hours away.
June 7, 2010 - 8:57pm
I’ve been consumed by news stories lately, one local—within the community of “mother bloggers” — and one national. The local, a story of a child’s death; the national, the Gulf Coast oil spill. They have little in common except the way they make me feel: impotent, enraged, worried. Impotent, because it seems there’s so little I can do to change the way things are. Enraged, because the stories both suggest miscarriages of justice.
June 6, 2010 - 6:15pm
Ann Larson’s recent IHE column, in which she dissects the popular idea that that a college education is the key to upward mobility for lower-income Americans, resonated for me in a personal way, because I have two nephews who joined the military after they ran out of money for college tuition. One, in the National Guard, spent a year in Iraq and could be called up again. The other will have shipped out to Afghanistan when this column is posted.
June 3, 2010 - 9:16pm
I have written in this column before about the concept of "opportunity cost." This topic from economics says that every choice involves a cost, that when we choose to do one thing, we automatically choose not to do something else. When I think of the sacrifices my parents made so that my sister and I could obtain college educations, I realize that there were many opportunity costs to the decisions they made.

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