Higher Education Webinars

Mama PhD

Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

June 3, 2010 - 8:06am
The media and the sciences… They mix like oil and water. Commercial media seeks narrative personas, two-sided conflicts and attention-grabbing images of disaster. The sciences demand careful process, time to uncover truths and talented storytellers to achieve a big audience.
June 2, 2010 - 6:30am
It’s damp. It’s dreary. As I write this, I look out my window and fog obscures the mid-morning light. After a teasing May taste of summer, the sun seems to have disappeared and with it my get-up-and-go. Why should I be in such a slump when I’m thankful for so much in my life? It’s after days like these that my brain thinks the middle of the night is the best time to stir the stew of worries in my head. No concern is too trivial—“The basil plants I paid $1.25 for are shrivelling up! What’s happened to my career? Those wrong notes I sang in choir last night were so embarrassing!
May 27, 2010 - 9:16pm
In economics, we talk about education as a way to build “human capital”, which will later be put to productive use in the labor market. It is one way that people can improve their chances of earning income, and the level of income earned. This is something that my parents, children of my immigrant grandparents whose education stopped at “continuation school”, knew instinctively as they navigated the world of education for me and my sister. This led them down paths that included religiously-focused education, at a Catholic grammar school and a Catholic high school.
May 26, 2010 - 9:30pm
This week, immediately after turning in my final grades, I flew east to visit old friends in New England and to attend a writing workshop. While I sometimes worry that writing personal essays will take time away from my scholarship, I’ve discovered that they renew my connection to literature and narrative, as well as provide a welcome respite for the demands of academia and motherhood. Over time, I’ve found that my more “creative” efforts influence my academic voice — giving me a greater sense of audience and a closer attention to language.
May 26, 2010 - 5:17am
Yesterday my 5th grader came home from school and did a happy “no homework” dance. Her afterschool class that day has finished for the semester, and she had the afternoon free! She wanted to celebrate with a playdate (everyone uses this word, but it makes me cringe) and busily started calling friends to invite them over.
May 24, 2010 - 10:10pm
This morning I woke up with a cold. Stuffy nose, scratchy throat, hoarse voice. The end of the school year often brings some kind of illness — I think that somehow my immune system, overworked during the school year, lets its guard down when the students depart, and the next new bug that I encounter grabs me. In this case I know where it came from: Nick spent most of last week home with a cough. He wasn't all the way better this morning, either.
May 23, 2010 - 7:50pm
A few weeks ago I met with my son’s advisor to discuss his academic progress as he nears the end of the tenth grade. She was generally positive about his college prospects: “His grades aren’t perfect, but his standardized tests are stellar, and he’ll get great recommendations,” she said. “Besides, he’s a boy.”I knew what that meant, thanks to discussions on this blog. “I have mixed feelings about that,” I told her. “I’m happy for anything that will help Ben, but…”“I know. I have a daughter.”
May 20, 2010 - 8:45pm
Once, years ago, I found myself at a party talking about what it would mean to divide by zero. (No wonder I was terminally single at the time!) I explained that, while we can’t divide by zero, we can think of approaching a divisor of zero, and see what happens. Think first of dividing 1 by 1, to get 1/1, or 1. Now divide 1 by 0.1, to get 10. Continue on to divide 1 by 0.01 to get 100, and 1 by 0.001 to get 1000. You can see that if you continue on like this, the smaller the divisor gets, the larger the ratio gets.
May 20, 2010 - 7:42am
I’ve been focused on the tragic, on-going oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico: first, because my current documentary is about the erosion of Louisiana’s coastline and the disappearance of bayou cultures. And second, the spill reminds me of my own dependence on oil for long distance commuting to see my kids in Florida.
May 19, 2010 - 8:29am
Until a few weeks ago, I’d never made more than a weekend trip away from my children. In my mind I added up the times my husband had been away for meetings, conferences, and teaching field trips. Some day, I thought, I’ll cash in the time owed me and take my dream vacation -- bird-watching in Arizona. Then early this year I got an interesting email.

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