Archive for February, 2010

Student Expectations and Responsibilities

February 28, 2010

I think this story has become a cult favorite among a lot of faculty, for basically saying many think (but can’t/won’t say) with some frequency. I’m not quite sure he has the tone perfect (a bit crude in one spot), but in the end he is largely speaking the truth about life and arguably doing the student more good than by simply tolerating rude behavior. In any event, it’s entertaining. The essential message is near the end (xxxx is the blacked out student name):

Getting a good job, working long hours, keeping your skills relevant, navigating the politics of an organization, finding a live/work balance…these are all really hard, xxxx. In contrast, respecting institutions, having manners, demonstrating a level of humility…these are all (relatively) easy. Get the easy stuff right xxxx. In and of themselves they will not make you successful. However, not possessing them will hold you back and you will not achieve your potential…

Academic Fraud

February 28, 2010

An interesting essay describing the essential fraud of major universities who staff freshman comp classes with gradute TAs who can barely teach (largely due to training, I would suspect, but that barely reduces the charge). The essay ends with this frightening conclusion – after having been observed by a faculty mentor:

Several days later, Dr. Whitcomb called me into her office and handed me a letter she was submitting to the director of the first-year composition program. Her letter said simply that she had seen me do a terrible job in the classroom. I hadn’t connected the different parts of that day’s lesson, hadn’t explained the next writing assignment thoroughly, hadn’t answered students’ questions well, and hadn’t prepared them for the next class session.

Dr. Whitcomb asked, “What do you think of the letter?”

I shrugged. “I think it’s accurate.”

Dr. Whitcomb nodded in agreement, offered no suggestions for improving my performance, and sent me on my way. I never heard from her again, which made me expect that I wouldn’t be asked back the next year. My fears were reinforced at the end of the semester when my students filled course evaluations with comments such as “He doesn’t know what he’s doing” and “Fire this guy.”

The next fall Elite National University assigned me to teach two remedial sections of the course.

College as Part Time Job?

February 28, 2010

Interesting discussion of a study of the  work load of college students (including grade inflation and other related factors) that lets college become a part-time job, rather than the full-time one it was designed to be. Particularly striking was the finding that there was little correlation between grades and time spent studying, which suggests something wrong on the teaching side. The stinging conclusion:

Remember the Eastern European joke about wages under communism, “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us”? Perhaps there is an undergraduate counterpart: “We pretend to study and they pretend to grade us.”

Objective Truth in Journalism?

February 25, 2010

Here’s an interesting firing notice – explaining why a journalist was released. The explanation:

He held on to the notion that there was an objective reality that could be reported objectively, despite the fact that that was not our editorial policy at Atlanta Progressive News.


The Importance of Education

February 24, 2010

From the onion: The Importance Of Education Given Valuable Lip Service.

Public attitudes toward education

February 22, 2010

Here’s an interesting article about a survey of American attitudes on higher education. In part, it describes increasing distrust of the financial aspects of higher education – an assumption that money rather than education are the primary focus.

More on Multi-tasking

February 21, 2010

Here’s another one – apparently the hot topic right now. Gotta stop this, at least most of the time.

The Millennials

February 21, 2010

Here’s a brief summary of a recent study of the Millennials and their spirituality (though often without religion). Some interesting factors for thinking about being the church in this context. In his brief comment on the link, Glenn Reynolds probably is on to something (though I view it far less positively than I would guess he does):

YOUNG VOTERS WANT SPIRITUALITY, BUT NOT NECESSARILY RELIGION. Well, that’s because religion often tells you to do things you don’t want to do, or to refrain from doing things you want to do, while spirituality is usually more . . . flexible.

It seems to me this is precisely the point – and somehow we (Christians) have to figure out how to effectively communicate the fact that true spirituality cannot be this kind of fuzzy thing, but must respond to the fact that the “spiritual” is a link to a personal God who has authority over those things we want to do. Granted, we also have to divorce Christianity from elements of religion – including rules and norms – that are merely cultural or are sometimes even oppressive (and hence, ultimately anti-Christian). An interesting context for living out our faith.

IVP Worldview series

February 19, 2010

A helpful introduction to another set of books I’ll be sharing with my Worldview class. Oh the bibliographies!

On multitasking

February 17, 2010

Here’s what the research on multitasking says:

If you’ve got work that requires engaged thinking—like reading, writing, or even just a serious phone call, stop juggling and start single-tasking.