What’s Wrong With Being From the South? Just Ask an Academic in the North

As an American studying in Toronto during the Clinton administration, I encountered some non-negligible anti-American bias. I learned to pronounce the last letter of the alphabet “zed” when I was spelling my name. When I sang “ahh-men” in a church choir, the music director stopped the rehearsal to express his surprise that I hadn’t sung “aay-men.” A student in an American literature class accused me of being racist for suggesting…

At Computers and Writing #cwcon for the weekend.

Am I wise now? At an event for encouraging graduate student research, a 26yo grad student said she had just heard the term “impostor syndrome,” and she asked how long she’d have to be in the profession before she got over her fears that she was just faking it and didn’t belong. I looked her in the eyes and told her that her parents, her mentors, and all of their…

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STEM Education Won’t Solve the World’s Problems

I love STEM. My SAT score for math was exactly the same as verbal. When I was in grad school, struggling with Sausserian semiotics and Beowulf in the original Old English, I taught myself C++, Turbo Pascal, and Java for fun. For some project I was coding I learned how to do 3D matrix transformations so that I could simulate light bouncing off of a solid surface. I had part-time…

Your Students Learn by Doing, Not by Listening

Today one of my students gave a final presentation in the form of a branching hypertext (akin to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” novels). On the opening screen, the voice of the professor welcomes the students to the course, announces a the major term project, and then immediately dismisses the class. During the Q&A afterwards, I noted that instructor sure didn’t waste much time on lectures, and asked whether the…

How We Can Help Students Survive in an Age of Anxiety

Today’s students have also lived most of their lives in the shadow of a systemic financial collapse. Some of us can still remember the extent to which the worldview of our parents or grandparents was shaped by having grown up during the Great Depression. While the Great Recession was objectively not as severe, it has led to a level of economic anxiety among today’s college students that I did not…