This is fine. Really.

Thanks(?) to social media, it’s very easy for us to learn, in a personal context, all about bad things happening far away from us. And the impressions left by people grieving and pointing fingers at each other leaves a toll. And when we do not know, or when we do not know enough, we tend always to substitute emotions for thoughts. –T.S. Eliot, “The Perfect Critic” (1921) Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker…

One Teacher’s Brilliant Strategy to Stop Future School Shootings

Every Friday since Columbine, one schoolteacher has asked her students to to submit a list. Who would they like to sit next to next week? Who has been an exceptional classroom citizen this week? Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little…

Don’t use that “18 school shootings since Jan 1” claim. It’s Inaccurate.

Don’t use that “18 school shootings since Jan 1” meme. It’s misleading. I’ve lost track of how many times this image has popped up on my social media feeds. The 18 “school shootings” marked on that map include an instance in which a third-grader accidentally pulled the trigger of a police officer’s holstered gun (nobody was hurt), and an instance in which a man committed suicide in the parking lot…

An Hour of Monastic Silence in Media Studies Class (plus an awesome drum solo)

I announced that my 300-level Media and Culture class would spend an hour in monastic silence, collaborating on a Google Doc. I expected the students would understand I was helping them get into the mood to appreciate the 14th century setting of The Name of the Rose. What I didn’t expect was an awesome drum solo. I had already encouraged my students to approach The Name of the Rose the…

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Jane Eyre and the Invention of the Self

Those who remember Jane Eyre solely as required reading in high-school English class likely recall most vividly its over-the-top Gothic tropes: a childhood banishment to a death-haunted room, a mysterious presence in the attic, a Byronic hero, and a cold mansion going up in flames. It’s more seemingly the stuff of Lifetime television, not revolutions. But as unbelievable as many of the events of the novel are, even today, Brontë’s biggest accomplishment…