December 11, 2013, 10:03 am

Should a Grading Policy Be Absolute? No,No,No

No-Whining-Sticker-(2146)

In the old days at Zenith, I had this sign hanging in my office, given to me as a Christmas present by a student.

OK, so there are some of your students who weren’t listening to Amy Winehouse this semester: too much shot glass, too little in class. Now is the time of year that the chickens come home to roost, don’t they? Their failures are our failures.

And it makes us so mad that we sometimes respond badly. I was privy to an interesting conversation yesterday about having policies that govern late papers, make up exams and whatnot.

The arguments about whether to enforce late paper policies strictly ranged from:

  • Do it: I’ve heard every excuse before; to
  • Don’t be an a$$hat. Give the kid a make up the exam.

I want to emphasize: there truly was a healthy range of views expressed on this issue, and …

Read More

December 10, 2013, 9:38 am

Education Shorts for the Snowbound

dendrite-snowflake_9425_600x450

A dendrite snow crystal, which occurs when the temperature is between 27 and 30 degrees Fahrenhite (see? You have learned something already!) Photo Credit: Kenneth Librecht

I don’t know what it is doing where you are, but in the mid-Atlantic States and New England, we are getting snow and everyone is canceling stuff. In New York City, of course, you can get around pretty well in the snow because of all the underground transportation.

Nevertheless, if you are home anywhere in the country (or worse, grading), here are some education news items from around the web, full of commentary by Tenured Radical:

  • Mayor Michael Bloomberg is ending his term with a few career-buffing moves. The most recent is to rename a new school located at Brooklyn Boys and Girls High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant The Nelson Mandela…

Read More

November 28, 2013, 11:46 am

Hands Across the Web: Thanksgiving Shout-Outs

looney-tunes-thanksgiving

After some posts Tenured Radical feels like the main course

Back in 2007, I handed out turkeys on Thanksgiving to the biggest dumb-a$$es in education I had encountered that year. Ah, but I was so much younger then; I’m older than that now. As I woke up this morning, I had this conversation with myself:

Tenured Radical: (slams a cup of coffee down on the bedside table) Yo, dude. Time for us to give out some of those good ol’ TR Thanksgiving Turkeys! You remember, that round-up of people who have made fools of themselves in some way? What better year than this one?

Claire Potter: (not yet fully awake) Are you sure? After everything that has happened in the past couple weeks, do we have to be vengeful? It’s been kind of unpleasant around here and I think we need to change the mood. I mean, we’ve ended up on…

Read More

November 23, 2013, 12:29 pm

Srsly? Notes on Social Media, #2013ASA

barack-obama-laughingYou may have received something on Facebook today, as well as on Twitter, floating the accusation that my opposition to the academic boycott of Israel being considered by the National Council of #2013ASA is a sham. This opposition is, the messages claims, only an excuse for me to continue an unhealthy and longstanding obsession with a prominent member of the American Studies Association.

This person, it is alleged, was once my friend, but broke off that friendship for unnamed reasons (because I am a psychotic lesbian? Because I have bad politics? Because I am wardrobe challenged? We are taking suggestions in the comments section.) The tweet mentions that this person has blocked me on every electronic media possible, inferring that I have been an e-stalker in the past, and have taken up this deviant behavior again, this time strategizing my cyber-terror through time-consuming…

Read More

November 22, 2013, 7:52 pm

Philadelphia: November 22, 1963

enhanced-buzz-wide-4790-1385050333-55

A crowd listens to the news of the assassination in New York City, November 22, 1963

Reading Terminal Market in downtown Philadelphia. Five years old. Surrounded by grown up legs in nylon stockings. A sudden wave goes through the crowd: “The President has been shot!” My mother grabs my hand and we walk quickly to the car because something terrible has happened and we have to get home. It’s a big yellow Merc with chrome fins, green cloth interior, black roof and electric windows.

(Where was my sister? Was she home? I don’t remember.)

This was still when it was ok to put your kid in the front seat, no seatbelt or anything. Driving home on the expressway, the radio announces that the President is dead. My mother starts to cry, puts her arm across my stomach so I don’t fall off the seat and starts to brake (this…

Read More

November 22, 2013, 10:51 am

One Side Fits All: An Interesting Development @ #2013ASA

Take a look at the following screen shot, and tell me what you see.

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 9.46.01 AM

The first tweet, at the bottom, reports on what sounds like an outstanding presentation by Duke University’s Fred Moten. Moten was arguing in support of an intellectual boycott of Israel being considered by the National Council of the American Studies Association on Sunday. If I am understanding his, and the tweeter’s, argument correctly, it is an established position of PACBI: that Palestinians have no academic freedom, and therefore the issue is null. The corollary to this is that freedom of speech among US academics, and concerns that an institutional boycott of Israel will constrain the academic freedom of those employed by Israeli institutions (unless they are explicitly aligned with BDS) is a privileged, bourgeois concern that whitewashes the reality of the ongoing Occupation.

I would like to point out,…

Read More

November 21, 2013, 10:35 am

Blogging for Free Speech and Academic Freedom: The 1000th Post

acad1

Illustration by Ernest Hopf.

Given that my reply to one commenter had become post-length (look at the comments section of the prior post) I decided to make a few small edits and elevate it to the main page of the blog. I do so with a message to those opposing the resolution for an academic boycott of Israel at #2013ASA: stop throwing stones, and focus. The principles of free speech and academic freedom are, I believe, positive and compelling reaons to defeat an American Studies Association (ASA) boycott of Israel based on the principles laid out by PACBI. Questioning the motives and ethical stances of fellow academics affiliated with BDS is not. I have been particularly concerned by unwarranted charges of antisemitism and racism, on this blog, in the academic #twittersphere.

I would also like to say…

Read More

November 20, 2013, 9:42 am

Letter to the ASA Opposing the Proposed Academic Boycott of Israel

182377754_400x400_FrontTo: John Stephens, Executive Director of the American Studies Association

Subject: Opposition to proposed resolution before the National Council of the ASA for an academic boycott of Israel.

Dear John,

Please count me as an ASA member who opposes the proposed sanctions of Israel’s academic institutions and, by logical extension, the scholars associated with those institutions, that has been put before the Council by the Academic and Community Activism Caucus. Scholars of any nation ought to be free to travel, publish and collaborate across borders: I consider this to be a fundamental human right, and so does the United Nations. We in the American Studies Association cannot defend some of those human rights and disregard others. (more…)

November 19, 2013, 1:09 pm

Burned-out, Dissenting and Staying Home: On Not Attending the ASA Annual Meeting

boyoboyI had not planned to attend this year’s American Studies Association Meeting, which is just as well. After I learned this week that a resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israel would be presented for discussion, I realized I need a time out from American Studies. Part of this is that the organization — which I have always loved, and still love, for its activism — has taken itself in an intellectual direction that I sometimes no longer even understand. This year’s meeting, for example, bears the theme, “Beyond the Logic of Debt: Toward an Ethics of Collective Dissent.”

Does anyone but me look at this and say “Why does this one thing before the colon seem not to bear any relationship to the thing after the colon?” Speaking of colitis, some are getting it from next year’s CFP, which seems to deliberately mock the idea of scholarly meetings by arguing that conferences may …

Read More

November 16, 2013, 10:55 am

When You Are Too Sick to Teach

advertisement-for-sanitas-fumigator-for-the-treatment-of-influenza-and-other-lung-infections

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”…

Read More