Designers vs. Conversers

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”

Bring Back Meals Together NOW.

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.”

Talk Onto the Page

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”

Tree of Memory

What have you learned about life?

by Michael LaBossiere (Florida A&M)

Some years ago my life was at a terrible low point. My marriage was failing, my career seemed stagnant, and I was stuck in what seemed to be a sea of bleak misery. Many of my problems seemed to stem from my reluctance to do bad things and the willingness of others to prosper through misdeeds.

One morning, when things seemed to be at their lowest point, I went for a run. As I ran, I thought about my life and how I ended up in the situation I faced. In the past, I believed that a person should do what is right—even when it often seems like doing wrong has the greater reward. But, I had seen the rewards of trying to be good and those reaped by those who thought just about themselves. At that moment, I doubted the value of trying to be a good person. Continue reading “Tree of Memory”

Get a Clue, College-Bound!

What would you tell your teenage self?

by Steve Halasz

Dear Steve,

It’s 1966 and you’re excited and nervous about starting your first year at Hiram, a small liberal arts college on a pleasant hill in Ohio that has a well-deserved reputation for intellectualism.  As your 64 year old self, I know what’s coming and so I’m writing to clue you in.

You are going to Hiram because (1) it’s a charming campus with lovely old buildings on a sweet hillside with a great view of the countryside, (2) it’s not far from home, (3) you got a scholarship, (4) Harvard didn’t accept you.  But mostly, you’re going there because you are an intellectual, and there are few places in the U.S. where intellectuals are Continue reading “Get a Clue, College-Bound!”

You do not need permission to do the right thing. No one can give you permission to do the wrong thing.

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.”

For Love AND Money

How do you get the most out of college?

by Brian Strow (Western Kentucky)

A flourishing life is not one dimensional.  It involves the search for truth and a striving for self-awareness/ self-improvement.  It requires the development of one’s mind, body, and soul.  A flourishing life requires faith, exudes hope, and shows love to others.  It also requires a broadly defined definition of education.

Self-improvement should be a lifelong passion.  Universities and colleges offer a unique development opportunity where students are enabled, and encouraged, to embrace their flourishing in a meaningful way.  Universities and colleges are not meant to produce perfect graduates, but rather people who are better equipped to pursue their view of a flourishing life.  Too often students obtain their degree without actually Continue reading “For Love AND Money”