Monthly Archives: May 2016


      No Comments on 80-15-5

A colleague recently shared with me a model of triage that comes from public health management. The model posits that 80% of people with a problem will come through it just fine; 15% will need some special attention to manage their specific context; and 5% will be in real crisis. Hold… Read more »


      No Comments on Summer

Every so often, people ask me if there are other terms I’d add now that the book’s been completed. Based on conversations I’ve had in the past few days, I’d say yes. Here’s one… Summer. The traditional model of school, at all levels, is that we went to class around… Read more »

Copying the masters

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One of the things I think we do poorly in teaching young people to write is that we either teach it as a mode of self-expression, in which anything goes as long as it’s authentic… or as a mode of linguistic science, a series of parts of speech and moods… Read more »


      No Comments on Hodophobia

I love driving. It was the first thing I remember really, really wanting as a child. Now that I live in the boonies and have a big yard, I have a riding mower, which is the perfect eight-year-old fantasy toy: a combination of loud vehicle and coloring book, back and… Read more »

The Bright Side of Office Politics

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I used to work pretty hard at managing upward—saying the same thing, gently, to my provost or president enough times to eventually hear those ideas come from them as though they’d just thought them up. You can take credit for the work, or you can get the work done. From The Office… Read more »

Competitive Bids

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I’m on the Select Board in our town of 740 people, which means that I get to take care of a bunch of unpredictable things as they arise. For instance, there was a house fire last month next to the town’s library, and the heat from the fire broke a few… Read more »

Women’s Work

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I tend to be kind of an observant person, a good character trait for an ethnographer. But I don’t always know how to turn it off, and my wife occasionally says that I’m sounding like Andy Rooney, which is a gentle way of saying that I should be quiet for… Read more »

Bookshelf—The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

It’s been a month or so since I recommended a book. This edition of Bookshelf features The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, by Alain de Botton (2009, Pantheon). For those of you who haven’t read de Botton’s other work—and he is prolific—you can think of him as a British version… Read more »

Intellectual Genres

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I was at a writers’ conference a few years ago, in a session led by an acquisition editor from Penguin. (Don’t you just love the idea that the publisher is called Penguin, by the way?) Anyway, she was telling us about the shelving codes used by publishers to help booksellers departmentalize… Read more »

The space between

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The world of the student is filled with mechanisms for identifying and rewarding talent. Talent on certain terms, of course, but talent nonetheless. We pack thirty kids into a room and we ask them all to do the same thing. Some will do it better than others. We repeat that… Read more »