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Annie Sullivan on teaching: 

Helen Keller, rendered blind and deaf after an infection as a toddler, learned the gift of language from her patient and determined teacher, Annie Sullivan. Their story is told in the play The Miracle Worker (and my daughter plays Helen in three more shows this weekend at Latrobe’s Cabaret Theatre). As a young woman Helen Keller wrote her biography The Story of My Life, which also published some of Sullvan’s letters.…

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“Syllabus Day”: The Absolute Worst Way to Start the Semester

I’d rather blog about prepping my fall classes than actually start prepping my classes, so here you go. I don’t spend much time on the syllabus on the first day, though I do show students where key topics are, and I do assign a take-home syllabus quiz. (“If Gus Griffin tells you he’s worried about missing class due to an upcoming surgery, what advice would you give him?”) But there’s…

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While at Sadecky’s Puppets to record the role of Heidi, Carolyn met a new friend.

We spent Sunday afternoon at the Sadecky’s Puppets studio/workshop in Tarentum, Pa. Carolyn recorded an audio track for a musical adaptation of “Heidi,” to be synced with performances of live puppeteers touring across 9 states during the coming school year. Mr. Sadecky, who has been performing with his puppets since the early 80s, was charming but also thorough. He worked patiently with Carolyn to deliver the performance he wanted. “That…

Your Brain on Books
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What You Read Matters More Than You Might Think

Seton Hill is revamping its freshman writing program, previously implemented as a pair of courses, “Basic Composition” and “Seminar in Thinking and Writing” (STW), and now called “Composition and Culture” (which students can take in one semester or stretch over two). The new design includes more focus on reading, and also seeks to erase what had been a sharp division between an emphasis on the personal essay (in the “Basic”…

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The Myth of the Unemployed Humanities Major

Students who work their way up to leadership positions in clubs, get work-study jobs or internships writing press releases or running social media accounts or editing newsletters, who take challenging courses (and do the hard work necessary for getting an A), and who practice writing and talking about what they learn are already demonstrating the skills employers want. Writing a few music reviews for bands you like couldn’t hurt, but…

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Teaching Shakespeare in a Maximum Security Prison

Good essay by Mikita Brottman. When I read Macbeth for the first time, I understood almost nothing. The play’s immediate subjects (kingship, Scottish history, nations at war) did not engage me, nor did I have any interest in theater. I loved Macbeth not for its story but for its language. I was fascinated by the weight of the words, their sequence and rhythm, the way they made me feel, even…