Why It’s OK to Rat On Other Students

How do you teach people to do the right thing?

by Warren Goldstein

Like many people in the academy, I have found myself uneasily stewing over the murders at Virginia Tech. My students and I have spent far too much time glancing over at our classroom door, wondering whether we would have been able to hold it shut if a gunman had wanted in; would I have had the courage of Liviu Librescu, who students said died protecting them?

I was lucky; I didn’t have to deal with Seung-Hui Cho, unlike my poor colleagues in the Virginia Tech English department, who had formed a departmental task force to discuss him. At least they tried. They resisted the Continue reading “Why It’s OK to Rat On Other Students”

Exam Doozies and Doubts

What do academics do wrong?

by Warren Goldstein (U Hartford)

The term’s over, thank God, and I’ve finished plowing through my U.S.-sports-history exams, but I can’t forget reading: “Femininity on the other hand was something that girls created after masculinity.” What? Incredulous when I came across that, at Hour 3, with a dozen booklets to go, I needed to vent. I e-mailed an old friend who teaches a similar course. He wrote back immediately, “What the … . Why do we bother?”

His question, however flippant, brought me up short. It’s a good one, even beyond the obvious answers: We have tenure; we’re getting a little long in the tooth to start another career; we can’t live on Continue reading “Exam Doozies and Doubts”