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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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When Robert Pinsky Wrote a Video Game

[F]or a brief time in the mid-nineteen-eighties major literary publishers, including Simon & Schuster and Random House, opened software divisions, and major bookstores stocked works of “interactive fiction.” Popular writers, including Douglas Adams and Thomas M. Disch, turned their capable hands to the burgeoning form. It was in the midst of this excited moment that the future three-term U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky wrote a video game called “Mindwheel,” which,…

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I Made My Friends Test the 19th Century’s Hottest Dating Tactic: Reading Aloud

There are perfectly good reasons to read aloud that don’t involve skirting Victorian restrictions on the stoking of passions, but I was somewhat amused by this assessment of the place of reading in today’s culture. It reminds me of the story of the local officials who, upon learning that the number of books in a family’s home is a good predictor of a student’s academic success, handed out free books…

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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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What Jane [Austen] Saw: 1796 Shakespeare Gallery

You are invited to time travel to two art exhibitions witnessed by Jane Austen: the Sir Joshua Reynolds retrospective in 1813 or the Shakespeare Gallery as it looked in 1796. These two Georgian blockbusters took place, years apart, in the same London exhibition space at 52 Pall Mall (it no longer exists). When Austen visited in 1813, the building housed the British Institution, an organization promoting native artists. On her…