Rules for Civility: 14-Year-Old George Washington’s 110 Commandments for Cultivating Character

Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present. When in Company, put not your Hands to any Part of the Body, not usualy Discovered. Shew Nothing to your Freind that may affright him. In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet. —Brain Pickings.

The Best Argument for Studying English? The Employment Numbers

While health science majors and engineers face much better job prospects, and while in the present economy even those prospects aren’t terribly good, the post-graduation employment rate of English and other humanities majors is not that different from computer science or economics — degrees that are generally considered more marketable. As of 2010-2011, the most recent year with available data, recent humanities and liberal arts majors had 9 percent unemployment.…


Students Speak Up: Trust Us With Devices

The students who are, in the first few weeks, more interested in their handheld devices than in what I am saying in class are usually the same students who are failing the course around midterm. Access to these devices does not cause students to fail; rather, the student’s attention to the device is an outward sign that the student has already checked out of the course. That can be useful…


Steve Strauss: Why I Hire English Majors

Doing things correctly earns you points on an assignment, but English is one of those majors (I’d include the various arts on the shortlist) that encourages bold thinking, which leads to deeper learning. According to Steve Strauss, “Reading Chaucer, making sense of it, writing a term paper on it, and then being able to defend it, takes far more bravery than, say, analyzing the fall of the Soviet Union.” I…


The Physics Behind Traffic Jams

In between today’s various events, I dashed into the store for milk. As I was preparing to back out of my space, I saw a little old lady pushing her cart along, not realizing that my engine was running and I was about to back out. To make a long story short, I didn’t try to dash out in front of her, or honk to hurry her along, I just…


The Decline and Fall of the English Major

This essay is yet another reminder of how I must work harder to try to teach my students the long-term value of what they learn in my classes. Students are so focused on the present — this semester, this course, this assignment, this rubric, this grade — that an assignment that requires critical thinking skills can seem overwhelming. I once had a student who panicked when she learned the final…


Freelance Writing Online: What Are You Worth?

Freelance writers have to be entrepreneurial, sometimes taking jobs that don’t really interest them (but pay well, or offer good exposure). Noah Davis does the numbers, laying out what he does and how much he gets paid. I pitched and wrote constantly. I submitted invoices to between six and 12 outlets a month. But while I found consistent work, there were no massive payoffs. The most I made for a…