Push Reel Mower

Connecting with the Boy

Today my son asked me to take him shopping for his favorite foods. He’s tired of fast-food take-out. I told him I was busy today running the spotlight for and videotaping yet another one of Carolyn’s performances (this time her voice teacher’s summer revue).
The poor boy has been left at home a lot while the rest of us did so much theater over the summer. He competed in a chess tournament last week. I fell asleep in the next room. He came in second place. (I have no pictures. I’m a bad father.)

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The 7 things new college students don’t know that drive professors crazy

  While secondary schools pour their resources into helping students get into a good university, and adults rush to teach teens how to behave well socially, no one’s covering what kids need to know for, you know, the actual classes. I have a clear picture of what’s missing from their preparation. Here’s what to tell your college-bound students to help them succeed. —Washington Post


Truth Trumps Bias

Trump offers plenty of opportunities for his detractors to criticize him. In the case of BabyGate, it does appear that the media were quick to spread an unflattering story without confirming some key facts. From a reporter seated one row behind the crying baby: “Mom and baby, very much not kicked out, came back to their seat a bit later. The baby was sucking a pacifier, silent.” There’s a little more to the story than the transcript and video suggest.


“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…


How to Disagree

If we’re all going to be disagreeing more, we should be careful to do it well. What does it mean to disagree well? Most readers can tell the difference between mere name-calling and a carefully reasoned refutation, but I think it would help to put names on the intermediate stages. So here’s an attempt at a disagreement hierarchy: Truly refuting something requires one to refute its central point, or at…

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Republican National Convention: Scrutiny of Melania Trump’s speech follows plagiarism allegations

As a college English teacher, I come to the table with a nuanced professional stance on the value of originality in writing. In a given discourse community, I can refer to common ideas without making it look like I am claiming original thinking. For example, when I was an undergrad with a work-study job in the theatre department’s scene shop, I saw a tired grad student scowl at the lopsided chicken-wire…