What have you learned about people?
by Dennis Shasha (NYU)
When I entered college, I thought the intellectual world was divided into science people and humanities people. I loved math and physics, so put myself firmly in the former camp.
Funnily though, I found that I had much more in common with painters and sculptors than say with political scientists or economists.
I finally married an artist in fact.
It took me to my first job — designing circuits for computer processors — to realize why. Continue reading “Designers vs. Conversers”
How can students and faculty improve their interaction?
by Gwendolyn Toth (Montclair State)
When I attended college in the 1970s, it was clear that we were there to learn from our brilliant professors. However, as I look back with 35 years hindsight, I realize that learning occurred not only in the classroom, the laboratory, the rehearsal hall, the dorm rooms, the rec rooms, and late-night bars (we could drink in those days).
We also learned in the dining hall.
Over food we met new friends with new points of view. Discussions started in late-morning classes continued at lunch with both students and teachers.
We all ate together every day.
Fast forward to 2012. Continue reading “Bring Back Meals Together NOW.”
How can you write better?
by: Peter Elbow (UMass)
I got interested in writing because in my first try for a PhD at Harvard, I gradually couldn’t write. I had to quit before I was kicked out and felt like a complete failure because I had so much invested in my image of myself as a good student. When I went back to grad school five years later (at Brandeis) I gradually learned what became my philosophy of writing: I can’t write right, but I can write wrong; and then I can make it right. It’s too hard to take a mess in the head and turn it into coherence on paper; but it’s not so hard to take a mess on paper and turn it into coherence on paper.
My current interests (reflected in my new book) concern the wisdom of the tongue. Starting around age four, we all internalize a native language. No one’s native language is Continue reading “Talk Onto the Page”
How do you teach people to do the right thing?
by Brooke Allen (Q4Colleges.com)
The unspoken contract when you are hitch-hiking is that you need to be more interesting than the radio. One summer (circa 1973), Debra and I decided to see how far away from New Brunswick, New Jersey we could get when all we had was $49 and three weeks.
We knew that repeating your own life story over and over gets repetitious so we used a little trick. We would ask each person who gave us a ride to tell us their story and then we would tell the next person the previous person’s story. Continue reading “You do not need permission to do the right thing. No one can give you permission to do the wrong thing.”
What have you learned about teaching?
by Mitchell Duneier
A few months ago, just as the campus of Princeton University had grown nearly silent after commencement, 40,000 students from 113 countries arrived here via the Internet to take a free course in introductory sociology. The noncredit Princeton offering came about through a collaboration between Coursera, a new venture in online learning, and 16 universities, including my own.
When my class was announced last spring, I was both excited and nervous. Unlike computer science and other subjects in which the answers are pretty much the same around the globe, sociology can be very Continue reading “Teaching to the World From Central New Jersey”
Do we need to pay for knowledge?
By Zick Rubin (Harvard, Brandeis)
Last month, as college students across the country prepared to head back to campuses, my fax machine coughed out my annual “Request for Permission” from the Copyright Clearance Center, the corporation that is one of the world’s largest brokers of licenses to copy other people’s work.
As in past years, the center asked me how much I wanted to charge to permit Middle Earth College to include a copy of Chapter 5 of my book, Liking and Loving: An Invitation to Social Psychology, in a course pack for the 18 students enrolled in Professor McClain’s Management 710 this fall. (I’ve changed the names of the college, the professor, and the course.)
If past experience were a guide, I could name Continue reading “Photocopy My Book Chapter? You Don’t Even Have to Ask”
What do academics do wrong?
By James M. Lang (Assumption)
Over winter break, I made the decision to experiment with my survey course, which covers British and Irish literature from the end of the 18th century to the present. I wanted to see if I could inject new life into a course structure that has seemed, to me at least, increasingly tired and outdated.
I had really begun to wonder why we—by which I mean both my department and the discipline as a whole—felt it necessary to push our students through these hit-and-run overviews of the history of literature. When we’re covering James Joyce in 50 minutes on Monday, Virginia Woolf on Wednesday, and T.S. Eliot on Friday, are we really helping them learn content that they understand, that matters to them, and that will remain in their brains beyond the span of the course?
Last spring, on my most recent run through the survey, I experimented with Continue reading “The Best-Laid Teaching Schemes”
Is graduate school worth it?
by Amanda Seligman (U Wisconsin, Milwaukee)
“Professor Seligman, you scared the hell out of me!” confided “Andrew” as I gathered up my papers, course books, several sample dissertations, and my keys after the first session of my undergraduate course in history methods last January. “I still want to be a professor, but you scared the hell out of me!” he repeated, in case I missed the point the first time.
I had just completed my first-day-of-class warning exercise, which I disguise as a form of acculturation. In a room full of history majors, there are always some students who think that they want to go to graduate school and become professors. Like many of my colleagues in the humanities, I am mindful of the impossibly crowded academic job market, which leaves all too many excellent scholars underemployed as adjuncts, working in jobs unrelated to their training, and so disillusioned and embittered that they denounce higher education to all listeners.
To prevent my own students from Continue reading “Encourage, but Terrify”
How will open online courses affect the future of education?
By Kevin Carey (New America Foundation)
In the spring of my freshman year in college, I took “Principles of Microeconomics” in Lecture Hall 1, a 400-seat auditorium. The professor was an economist and thus possessed a certain perspective on human nature. On the first day of class, he explained that our grades would be based on two midterms and a final. If we skipped the first midterm, the second would count double. If we skipped them both, the final would count for 100 percent of our grade. I may or may not have waited until the hour ended before walking out the back door of Lecture Hall 1 toward the nearest bar.
Fifteen weeks later, suddenly mindful of various dire warnings from my father about passing grades, continuing financial support, and the strong connection between them, I cracked my Continue reading “Into the Future With MOOC’s”