An Ambivalent Milestone; or, How’s the Book Coming?

The fear that hangs over all of my writing is that I will never finish the big projects. Actually, it’s even worse than that: I fear not knowing how to finish. Shorter things, I can do. I can whip out a blog post in a couple of hours, even quicker if I’m writing about something that pissed me off. (My most-read post on this site, with nearly 400K views, was one I rage-wrote at the Asheville, NC, airport in under two hours.) But longer projects paralyze me, and I get to a point where I literally wake up in the middle of the night, with an anxiety knot in my stomach, and wonder if I will ever be able to finish them.

Continue reading “An Ambivalent Milestone; or, How’s the Book Coming?”

Some Thoughts on Pedagogy and the Problem of “Empathy”

Last week, my provost asked me about the research on “empathy” in teaching and learning. He’s interested-as I am-in how my university can improve student success, become more inclusive, and create a climate in which all of our students may learn in meaningful and powerful ways. Any faculty developer would love to be having these conversations with their chief academic officers, and to see administrative support for these objectives. Therefore, I’m quite happy for the opportunity to dive into the research in this area; I’m familiar with some of it, but I know I have a lot to learn. So I tweeted out a query:

And, wow, did y’all respond! I received a bunch of great references and suggestions, which I have compiled below this post for anyone to use as they wish. Continue reading “Some Thoughts on Pedagogy and the Problem of “Empathy””

Pedagogy is not a Weapon: Defending Trigger Warnings and Safe Spaces

[CW: discussion of sexual assault, trauma]

Ever since Socrates upbraided his followers in the Agora, there has been a strong tradition among educators to bitch about students and/or their various foibles. We all do it, and there’s no denying that this type of venting can serve a valuable purpose, if kept to the private and confidential realm of office talks or water-cooler chatter with colleagues. But student-shaming has moved beyond the confines of faculty lounge venting and become a cottage industry of sorts, as the past few years have shown that it can pay to be an educator with pissed-off hot takes about Kids These Days™.

Continue reading “Pedagogy is not a Weapon: Defending Trigger Warnings and Safe Spaces”

Flashback: Let Them Eat (Unbundled) Cake!

Oh, look–the “unbundling” folks are back at it, with a spate of recent articles in edtech and “edupreneur” sites dredging up the idea of finding “efficiencies” by stripping off certain components from the “process” of college/university education to make learning (which they define exclusively as degree completion, which should tell you something) more “streamlined.” Josh Kim has a good piece up today on Inside Higher Ed that pushes back against this “unbundling” fetish, rightly suggesting that it will do no more than exacerbate the divide between the privileged and everyone else. But this isn’t a new criticism of “unbundling.” We rail against Bryan Caplan’s blithe lack of self-awareness and is wrongheaded screeds “Against Education,” but let’s not forget that the disruption crowd has been riding this unbundling horse for a while. In fact, yours truly railed against this very trend three years ago, so instead of writing another rage-blog, I’ve decided to repost the original essay. The fact that it is still relevant today is a gloomy reflection on the state of higher education reformism. Continue reading “Flashback: Let Them Eat (Unbundled) Cake!”

Black Labor, White Profits, and How the NCAA Weaponized the Thirteenth Amendment

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has been in the news a lot lately, and not for the reasons they’d wish. An FBI investigation into illegal payments to recruits and other sordid transgressions has roiled NCAA men’s basketball, and already brought down one of that sport’s all-time winningest coaches, the University of Louisville’s Rick Pitino. Now new revelations from Yahoo Sports implicate the most prominent programs (such as Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Kansas) in the same sort of transgressions for which Pitino lost his job. The shocking negligence of Michigan State University in the matter of Dr. Larry Nasser’s serial sexual abuse has awakened the echoes of the Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State–particularly in the increasingly vocal criticisms of the NCAA and its member institutions’ apparent inability to ensure the safety of their athletes. Continue reading “Black Labor, White Profits, and How the NCAA Weaponized the Thirteenth Amendment”

Guest Post: Shyama Rajendran, Becoming Procne and the Power of Rage

[I’m proud to host Dr. Shyama Rajendran, Academic Professional Lecturer at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, this week. This powerful meditation on gender and violence, and rage and sisterhood, is a strong rebuttal to those who would dismiss the #metoo movement as overblown or the work of a few malcontents. It is also a rejoinder to those who argue that the past has little to say to the present, as Dr. Rajendran shows us how thoroughly the themes in Ovid’s story of Procne and Philomela suffuse our present moment (including the way Ovid himself characterized those themes). I’d like to thank Shyama for agreeing to post this important and compelling essay here.]
Continue reading “Guest Post: Shyama Rajendran, Becoming Procne and the Power of Rage