Archive for May, 2010

DIY U

May 30, 2010

Here’s a discussion of a hot new book on educaton DIY U by Anya Kamenetz. The thesis is that our current system is in need of dramatic reform, and if she’s right, existing institutions (at least most of them) will need to change radically (and not necessarily in ways they want to change). For some other commentary, see this from Reihan Salam over at NRO’s The Agenda.

Pentecostalism and Foreign Policy

May 30, 2010

Walter Russels Mead has been writing some of the most interesting stuff. Here’s a discussion of Pentecostalism and American foreign policy that makes a lot of interesting points and leaves me with a lot of questions. And he’s not providing answers:

In raising these tough but real issues, I am making a point, not promoting a strategy.  To say that global Christianity, and especially Pentecostalism, is a strong and vital force that on the whole promotes American interests does not automatically tell us what we should do about it.

So what do we do? Start by understanding is Mead’s suggestion.

Personal Secession?

May 30, 2010

An interesting story about Christians who are significantly disengaging with the culture. Here’s an explanation:

Personal secession are things like homeschooling, house churches, home gardening, home-based economics, just regaining privacy and a sense of community rather than worrying about what’s going on in Washington, D.C… What’s the latest thing from the Supreme Court?

An interesting phenomenon.

Faculty Unionization

May 28, 2010

I used to work at a non-union office (insurance) and we used to joke a lot about our company’s concern about unions. We would loudly say words like “organize” and “grievance” on the off chance someone would overhear and report the danger of possible unionization. Obviously, our employer was concerned about cost and other impacts if the employees organized. Some such concerns were perhaps justified, but regardless of the current situation it can certainly be argued that unions have played an important and even constructive role in our history.

But what about unions and university faculties? John Witte offers some thoughts, and they are not very positive. He is concerned about how unions might distort and possibly even destroy the characteristics (e.g., inequality) that make the modern research university possible. I’m not sure how it would actually play out, though I do think the difference between blue-collar and more “professional” occupations provides reason to think that unions might be a problem. As for those of us at private, teaching colleges, I’m not sure what the impact would be, though I think we’re safe from this threat for now.

On the Courtier’s Reply & Dawkin’s Fleas

May 28, 2010

This post by Eric Reitan is a pretty interesting discussion of  the need for atheists to consider theology – not to simply ignore it. It is in part a response to PZ Myers’ post The Courtier’s Reply, which argues there is no need for atheists to think about theology because the Emperor (theism) has no clothes and a study of works analyzing those clothes is simply a waste of time. Dawkins quoted The Courtier’s Reply in the paperback edition of The God Delusion, though he distinguishes between apologetic theology (which he would need to know about) and substantive theology. Reitan has argued elsewhere that Dawkins has not fully dealt with apologetic theology, but that’s not his main point in the current post.

Instead, he points out that unlike the emperor’s new clothes, belief in God is not primarily something subject to the same kind of empirical analysis as clothes. Theism (like naturalism) is more of a worldview, which you evaluate by trying on. Thus, the atheist must know even substantive theology because without such knowledge, a true evaluation is not possible. In his words:

So how do we address this kind of question? The answer, I think, is that we have to “try on” alternative interpretations to see which offers the best fit with the whole of human experience—not merely with what we experience through our senses, but also with the broader and ultimately more important dimensions of our lived experience, including our moral and aesthetic experience and our sense of the numinous. Is a naturalistic worldview, one which explains away these latter features of our lives (or at least the last), ultimately a better fit with the whole of human experience than some alternative which posits a transcendent element of one kind or another?

The whole article is worth a read in pointing out an intellectual failure of at least one part of the new atheist project.

Things I found while looking for something else…

May 27, 2010

Serendipity sometimes leads you to something old, yet interesting. From ancient days on the internet (2009!), here’s a humorous hermeneutical discussion. I enjoyed it.

Buzzwords

May 23, 2010

Courtesy of the Onion.

Irony

May 23, 2010

A pretty good example; I thought it amusing.

Silly education graphs

May 22, 2010

Found a link to this site and can’t seem to quit. Here’s a graph on textbooks:

funny graphs and charts
see more Funny Graphs

And another on exam time:

funny graphs and charts
see more Funny Graphs

On Grade Inflation

May 20, 2010

An interesting interview with Stuart Rojstaczer on some recent studies of grade inflation. He makes a number of interesting points. Some relevance for all of us graders.