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Open Letter from a Millennial: Quit Telling Us We’re Not Special

Even the things we do for fun – playing sports, joining a band, riding a horse, writing a story – you have made into a competition. You’ve taken our creativity and told us that it matters not because it fulfills us, but because we can sell it to a college and reap the returns on our “investment” decades from now. Every little thing we do must be harnessed for profit.…

Six Reasons a Non-Computer Nerd Might Want to Learn to Code

Atwood, on his blog Coding Horror, miffed by the “everyone should learn to code” meme, likens coding to plumbing. It’s not for everyone. “Look, I love programming. I also believe programming is important … in the right context, for some people,” he writes. “But so are a lot of skills. I would no more urge everyone to learn programming than I would urge everyone to learn plumbing. That’d be ridiculous,…

Bully: She told her son, ‘hit him hard’ –and she learned a lesson

Powerful story. I didn’t trust the principal to help and my son didn’t trust me; I called the police instead. The officer showed up at the school, but the principal met him at the office. He told the cop it was his school, he would handle it. The principal called my son and the boy down to office over the public address system for the whole school to hear. Everything…

The Case for Breaking Up With Your Parents

I already felt fairly independent from my parents before I went off to college, as my older siblings were both good students who did not get into any trouble, so because I kept bringing home good grades my parents let me be very independent. I had (and still have) a good relationship with my parents, perhaps because it took (and takes) a little effort to contact them. This story of…

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Stop Telling Students to Study for Exams

I’m not giving any final exams this term. On the one hand, we tell students to value learning for learning’s sake; on the other, we tell students they’d better know this or that, or they’d better take notes, or they’d better read the book, because it will be on the next exam; if they don’t do these things, they will pay a price in academic failure. This communicates to students…

Narrative, Creativity, and Evolution

My students are finishing up Hayles, My Mother was a Computer. Some years go, I remember seeing a video of a little girl in a martial arts uniform, barking out “Know what you want! Make a plan! Add a role model! Review your progress!” over and over again, while kicking, chopping and spinning. Her philosophy ought to be ours, too! Evolved Virtual Creatures Scratch Implemention of Conway’s Game of Life…

Experts: No right choice for women about work, being at home with kids

JoAnne Boyle says she thinks women should stop worrying about child-rearing choices they make and stop criticizing other women’s choices. Boyle, president of Seton Hill University in Westmoreland County, raised six sons and a daughter — now ages 37 to 50 — while working full-time. She said she “often felt like I wasn’t doing a very good job at anything, but I did the best I could and I made…

Borges, “Garden of Forking Paths” – Media and Culture (EL336)

I’m preparing to teach this foundational work of hypertext theory. On the surface, this short story is a spy thriller, in which a subversive protagonist relies on intellect to match wits with a worthy, authority-wielding foe. Originally published in Spanish in 1941, this story takes the form of a conventional narrative, but its plot features what we would today call a hypertext novel. In My Mother Was a Computer, Hayles…

24 Hours at the Jerz Homeschool (More or Less)

A Twitter friend made a critical comment about homeschooling that I thought warranted a reply. I won’t repeat his comment here — after a brief reflection, he modified his statement, and suggested that people who are doing homeschooling right have a too-low profile. While I don’t pretend my kids are perfect, or that they don’t have gaps in their knowledge, all in all, I think we’re doing this right. So…