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Stem subject snobbery: a student’s view on why arts subjects matter

While everyone complains about the subjects their parents forced them into, I am in the dance studio every lunchtime. Dance gets me into school. Dance gives me something to pour my head and heart into. It gives me a feeling of belonging, creativity, security and freedom. | Then the bell rings and it’s back to Ohm’s law and circle theorems. Back to being told that the subject that makes you feel…

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Don’t Be Cruel

[M]angled syntax, disordered thinking, and frequent error happen to be hallmarks of a novice writer learning a new discourse. If we incorrectly assume they reflect a lack of effort or character — and base our feedback on that assumption — we do our students a disservice and risk inflicting real damage. | It takes enormous amounts of time and mental energy to craft substantive, constructive comments that will truly help students…

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Books Wield a Dangerous Power

While we might point to violent video games or sexually explicit films as potentially dangerous and corrupting influences on tender or vulnerable minds, the novel is treated as uplifting and salutary, regardless of its content: a kale smoothie for the soul. When we do talk about books being ‘dangerous’, it is usually with a knowing nod and a wink: and the implication is that those of us in the know…

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ALL ABOUT ‘ARCHIE’ – Jason Robert Brown

A few years ago, my daughter got to perform in a Stage Right summer camp production of 13: The Musical. The show’s dark humor and tween angst, and stunning performances by the young cast, made it one of my favorites. Here is a thoughtful essay written by the show’s creator, about one of the lead characters, Archie, who is bullied and ostracized for having a terminal disease (but who is…

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Imagine all the people. Just reading their damned syllabus.

These are not the rhetorical choices I would make in order to convey this message to my own students, but I can certainly identify with the author’s evident frustration. My own syllabus has a FAQ section, and in the first week or so of classes I usually assign an open-notes “Syllabus Quiz” so that students can get points for demonstrating that they can, in fact, read the syllabus. Imagine you’ve…

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Reading should not carry a health warning

This is probably the first time in history that young readers themselves are demanding protection from the disturbing content of their course texts, yet reading has been seen as a threat to mental health for thousands of years. In accordance with the paternalistic ethos of ancient Greece, Socrates said that most people couldn’t handle written text on their own. He feared that for many – especially the uneducated – reading…