Higher Education Webinars

Mama PhD

Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

October 7, 2010 - 7:46pm
I once had someone tell me a story of being on an airplane seated next to someone who was writing a dissertation in either math or economics (I forgot which). They asked their companion what their dissertation was on, and the person responded “chaos.” This person quickly responded by laughing; surely this was a reference to the old “Get Smart” movies of years ago. When they told me this story, I let them know that “chaos” is indeed an area of math that can be studied, and can even be applied to economics.
October 7, 2010 - 7:33am
After flying in from Chicago to visit my children recently, I arrived in time to watch them perform in the marching band for their weekly football game. My daughter, Katie, who plays the trombone, spotted me in the audience and needed to leave the stands and come weep a bit on my shoulder. She couldn’t explain exactly what was wrong, but it seemed to be a combination of loneliness, not finding enough friends in the band, and missing me a bit.
October 3, 2010 - 5:05pm
In a recent New York Times Magazine article, Peggy Orenstein discusses advertisers’ discovery of “the sales potential in female pride.”She describes recent ads by Target and Verizon, among others, that seem to imply that buying certain merchandise will confer “empowerment” on girls. She points out what she refers to as “cause-related marketing without the cause. Merely buying its service is how you’re supposed to strike the blow against inequality.”
September 30, 2010 - 10:22pm
I recently taught a class in “linear programming”, in which a (linear) objective function is maximized subject to several constraints that are also lines themselves. As I worked several example problems with my students, I remembered the central fact of economics, that we all face constraints in our lives and must do the best we can within those constraints. This truth was brought home to me earlier this week when I received the phone call all working parents hope to avoid.
September 29, 2010 - 10:45pm
I just finished teaching Daniel Defoe's 1722 novel, Moll Flanders, about a heroine who “Was Twelve Year a Whore, Five Times a Wife [Whereof Once To Her Own Brother], Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon In Virginia, At Last Grew Rich, Liv'd Honest, and Died a Penitent." The novel's frank depiction of criminality shocked 18th century readers, but my students are most appalled by the fact that Moll gives up her many children: the first, to her in-laws, and others to a paid surrogate family. We discuss the lack of sentimental language used to describe these separations.
September 29, 2010 - 4:34am
I’ve been thinking about a different sort of gap year lately. Not the year full of promise, excitement and life experience that some graduating high school seniors plan before starting college (and mentioned in recent Mama PhD blogs), but instead the gap years in my life, where I’ve been a stay-at-home mom. These years are also filled with promise, excitement, life experiences, and learning how to parent my children.
September 27, 2010 - 8:19pm
I feel compelled to add more to my blog post of last week about failure, in part because soon after I posted it I thought of some other failures from which I hadn’t learned quite so much. For example: at my most recent tae kwon do test (they come up about every three months), I was almost unable to break any boards, and I also had trouble remembering my patterns or forms, the sequences of moves that we learn at each belt level.
September 26, 2010 - 5:34pm
I wrote a few weeks ago about an encounter my son had with the police, and how this affected our family. Ben is back in school now, and things have returned to normal — and yet, they haven’t.On most schooldays, I walk Ben to the subway before hitting the pool at the health club and then going on to work. At 16, he certainly doesn’t need his mommy to drop him off, but it’s a ritual we developed when he first started traveling by himself, in the eighth grade, and we both enjoy it.
September 23, 2010 - 7:50pm
The concept of equality or equivalency is central to mathematics, as even the most simple algebra requires a statement of equivalency in order to present a statement that is true and can be solved. Such equality can even be found in non-mathematical arenas, as when mention of one thing immediately brings to mind thoughts of another. For example, it is true that there are certain cities whose names have become almost equivalent to organizations they house. When a character in The Great Gatsby says that someone “went to New Haven”, it is assumed that he went to Yale University.
September 22, 2010 - 9:31pm
The last few years have been a bit of a roller coaster ride for my son Nick. He’s been busy with school obligations, starting rock bands with his friends, and trying to pass a full schedule of Honors and AP coursework. Nick seems happy. He works as a lifeguard and plays in his school’s marching band. But for some reason, he refuses to do much homework and his grades have dropped.

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