This class has been everything that I expect it would be and I cannot believe that we are so close to its end.

Some days are slogs.  Some weeks are slogs. Some weeks are slogs that end with a wonderfully heartening comment from a student. I will not deny that I was a little worried about reading Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet as I know that they are two of Shakespeare’s most famous plays and I feared that I would not do a very good job reading them, but I was wrong. As…

My Freshman Comp Student Didn’t Recognize the Term ‘Word Processor’

Most of my students use MS-Word, but maybe a third use Google Docs (that’s a big increase lately) and a handful (but a bigger handful) use Pages. Today during a writing conference, a freshman comp student blinked in confusion when I asked her to “take me to your word processor.” I tried again. “Open up a blank page so I can write something.” That made perfect sense to her, and…

The Most Unexpected Workplace Trend Coming in 2020: the Return of the Liberal Arts Major

On LinkedIn each year author Dan Schawbel writes a list of workplace trends to watch for in the coming year. This time around Schawbel makes this prediction about degrees in subjects like literature, philosophy and history: “AI will automate technical skills and drive the demand for soft skills like creativity, communication and empathy. While there’s been such a focus on recruiting STEM over the past several years, those majors will continue to lose…

Big Calculator: How Texas Instruments Monopolized Math Class

My math education predated the widespread use of graphing calculators. I remember writing my own BASIC programs to graph simple functions, but that was in a summer school programming class during middle school, not part of my high school curriculum. I’m amazed these old calculators cost this much. Bulky and black, with large, colorful push buttons and a low-resolution screen, TI graphing calculators resemble top-of-the-line design from the 1990s and…

Empathy in a Downtown Sub Shop

Sitting in a downtown sub shop. A half dozen 40yo dudes — boots & jeans & beards & tattoos — pile in, trash-talking each other. “I don’t wanna sit next to *that* retard!” says a guy in a knit cap. “You gotta pick your ‘tards!” I take a deep breath. Almost immediately, the dude with the biggest beard and most visible tattoos lowers his voice and murmurs something to Guy…

“I don’t view Shakespeare’s work as intimidating anymore.” — midterm reflection from college freshman

“It has made me more confident in myself, and I don’t view Shakespeare’s work as intimidating anymore.” –freshman student reflecting on the first half of my “Shakespeare in Context” course. In lieu of reading comprehension quizzes, I have students post informal responses. They respond to an orientation lecture and each act of the play as they read, and finally they write a brief synthesis paper. That cycle usually takes about…