Category Archives: Teaching

March 19, 2015, 5:08 pm

Even a Moment of Mentoring Can Matter

nurse mentor preceptor 1American Historical Association President Vicki Ruiz has a wonderful essay about mentorship in this month’s Perspectives. Her own career as a historian began with an invitation to come to office hours:

A community college transfer, I knocked on Jean Gould Bryant’s door with a feeling of dread. What had I done wrong? She quickly put me at ease. After that eventful meeting, I began to consider graduate school, and over a period of 18 months, Bryant expanded my intellectual horizons as she prepared me for the rigors of her alma mater, Stanford. Coincidentally, I enrolled in courses on “race relations” taught by a young African American sociologist trained at UCLA. Leonor Boulin Johnson also took an interest in me, lending me books I never knew existed, books in Chicano studies. And, as the saying goes, the rest is history.

As Ruiz points out, it’s easier “to know those…

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November 28, 2014, 12:35 pm

Edu-blogging After the Ferguson Grand Jury Verdict


Mamie Elizabeth Till-Mobley, who never allowed her son to be forgotten.

If you are a writer for an education weekly, what exactly is supposed to happen in the aftermath of the grand jury decision in Ferguson, MO? The decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson, reached just before Thanksgiving, has swept through the academic Facebook and the blogosphere, making everything else seem irrelevant. Here are a few random questions and thoughts.

What should we teach next week? In an ideal world, we would all agree to take a day off for a teach-in on race in Amerika — like maybe once a week. Barring that outcome, many faculty may be puzzling about how to go back into the classroom after break. Will students expect, hope for, or dread, a special class devoted to Ferguson? I suspect it depends where you are…

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November 16, 2013, 10:55 am

When You Are Too Sick to Teach


Be considerate of yourself and others: stay home.

This article in today’s New York Times about doctors going to work ill struck a nerve as we enter the college sick season. Danielle Ofri’s account of tending to patients until she was completely felled with the barfing flu (otherwise known as the super-communicable norovirus) suggests that doctors forge on because they define themselves as the not-sick. ”As much as we empathize with our patients,” she writes, “part of protecting our inner core may require drawing an unconscious demarcation between ‘us’ and ‘them.’” Next to the grisly research about deadly infections being transmitted on physicians’ neckties, the idea of a doctor keeping an appointment with me when she has a vile illness is next on the list. I actually left a family practice years ago and found another doctor because it made no sense to me to go to a “wellness”…

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October 5, 2013, 3:59 pm

Saturday Tech Follies: My Failed Experiment With Masher

Thumbs-downEvery once in a while it’s fun to hunt up a new piece of software down and play with it. Mostly, although not always, I do this for teaching purposes. Will the platform be useful for posting or organizing material for my students? Giving them an alternative way to do their own presentations? Help me flip the classroom a bit? You can’t figure out what a given piece of software is good for, or whether it works at all, until you wrestle it to the ground yourself. Prepare to waste some time if you really want to be a digital humanities cowboy.

Today I made a short film with Masher about the government shutdown. So far, however, there seem to be a lot of bugs and you won’t be seeing that film anytime soon — although I presume it is still somewhere on the Masher site. (more…)

June 23, 2013, 9:10 am

The Ins and (Coming) Outs of Being Gay in the Classroom

safe-zoneToday’s guest post is on a topic that many queer people taking first jobs, or new jobs, in the fall are thinking about: should I come out? How should I come out? Does it matter to my students — and will I be viewed as unprofessional if I bring my personal life or views into the classroom?

Lauren Kientz Anderson is a visiting assistant professor in Africana Studies and History at Luther College in Decorah, IA. She received her Ph.D. in African American History from Michigan State University in 2010. Her book, “A Spirit of Cooperation and Conflict: Black Women and the Politics of Protest and Accommodation in the Interwar Era,” is currently under review.

I have a friend who is a non-traditional undergrad at a big state school. She has walked into rooms the first day of class and instantly pegged her teachers as gay—“Prof Bling” (her nickname for him) and the Queer Theory …

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February 2, 2013, 11:53 am

When The Modern European History Survey Goes Modern: Social Media in the Lecture Hall

Our guest blogger Mary Louise Roberts is a Professor in the History Department at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.   Her most recent book, What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American G.I. in World War Two France, will be published with the University of Chicago Press in May. This essay was originally written for ”The Public Practice of History In and For a Digital Age,” a plenary session at the 2013 American Historical Association Annual Meeting. Roberts appeared with historians Edward Ayers andWilliam Cronon; editor Niko Pfund; journalist Michael Pollan and your very own Tenured Radical.

I begin with a confession.  I resist change.  Unlike the other people on this panel, I am a change resister.  Unlike them, I have not pioneered digital or digitized approaches to historical inquiry.  In fact I have consciously refused them.   And when I have embraced new technologies,…

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December 10, 2012, 3:05 pm

Why Teach the History of Modern American Conservatism? Because It’s Fun

One of Professor Radical’s Dirty Books

I first discovered the pleasure in teaching conservative political history almost a decade ago. A student I had never met before asked me to advise his senior thesis on Ronald Reagan’s 1966 gubernatorial campaign.  At this time, political historians were just recovering from the shock and awe of the 1980 Reagan Revolution, and Lisa McGirr had just come out with Suburban Warriors: the Origins of the New American Right (2001).

However there was, as yet, very little to read about the resurgence of conservatism even though the research was well underway and the literature would soon begin to explode.

Therefore, part of the reason we had so much fun in the thesis tutorial was that the research was all about the primary sources. The thesis writer toodled out to the Reagan…

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September 23, 2012, 11:53 am

An Eskimo in Egypt-land

O’Donoghue, who refused to write an SNL sketch for the Muppets: “I won’t write for felt.”

Today’s guest blogger is Jennifer Finney Boylan, Professor of English at Colby College. She is the author of twelve books, including the Falcon Quinn series for young adults and the memoir trilogy She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders (2003), I’m Looking Through You: Growing Up Haunted (2008) and Stuck in the Middle With You: Parenthood in Three Genders (forthcoming in 2013). 

Comedian Michael O’Donoghue once wrote a poem that began, “A blizzard blew an Eskimo way down to Egypt-land. He found they had no word for snow, and he no word for sand.” The poem goes on to describe the Egyptian and the Eskimo’s search for a common language, “the thing that each man shares.”

O’Donoghue was, of course, better known…

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February 20, 2012, 3:37 pm

So You Think You Can Write During the Semester?

You actually can.  But it’s going to take a lot more than just wanting to. I say this because I have navigated the rock (scholarship) and the hard place (The Job) that so many of us wrestle with in different ways over time. I have been:

  • The person who decided that my full time teaching job at a SLAC was too interesting, too full of new surprises, too packed with interesting students who would hold me accountable, too — well, too! — to write at all during the semester. In these years, I vowed to make the most of holidays, breaks, and summers. Bad plan!  At least, a bad plan to make semester after semester, because the time off was never enough time, particularly when I failed to factor in the days spent at the beginning of these breaks watching teevee because I was so tired I couldn’t think and the days at the end getting ready to return to the classroom.
  • The person who decided…

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January 12, 2012, 11:15 am

Teaching, Creativity and Interpretation; Or, What I Learned from D.W. Winnicott and Nell Irvin Painter

Donald Winnicott, 1896-1971

One of the many reasons I was happy not to go to the American Historical Association annual meeting is that I am starting a new job at a very different institution than the one at which I have worked for two decades.  More than I usually do, I needed the time between terms to put together courses for students I have never met and who may also be very different from those I have known. I have had help in making my transition:  new colleagues have sent me their syllabi, and they have been generous in critiquing drafts of mine, as well as answering the specific questions that help locate us as teachers. How much will the students read?  Is the syllabus understood as a contract?  Where is the writing workshop? What kinds of writing assignments work best? What type of guidance a…

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