Author Archives: Herb

NOW What?

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I love those studies where we actually get to see how people spend their time through their days. I recently saw a set of logbooks from an adjunct faculty member that included five hours of e-mail in the course of an eleven-hour workday. And that’s no surprise: the work of… Read more »

How to Write

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Every year, my friend Jenny Shanahan and I lead a week-long writing workshop for faculty at Stevenson University, outside Baltimore. This summer will be the ninth time we’ve done it—it’s a lot of fun, and seems to be productive for them as well. We put together a booklet of writing… Read more »

The Story

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I spent an hour and a half yesterday at the mighty Northshire Books of Manchester VT, one of the fine independent bookstores still with us. (Buy nothing from Amazon, friends. Nothing at all, ever.) And I looked at the covers of two thousand books, and opened fifty, and bought two,… Read more »

Taxonomy

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We most often divide businesses like an org chart, into work groups and supervisory lines. And while that reveals some things about the institution, it conceals others. If you were interested in one lake, you might make an inventory of every living thing in that lake. That would be ecology…. Read more »

Throwing (Almost) Everything Out

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Loyal readers of this space will remember a post from a couple of months back in which I described the experience of winnowing down my old research files. That was one drawer. I’ve now done six, and as with that first round, I’m discarding almost everything, putting a strain on… Read more »

Some Folks Got Further to Go

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Note: This post contains naughty words. I didn’t make them up, they’re merely reporting. Just so you know. Take One: last summer’s movie Bad Moms, about the difficulties of modern expectations for perfect mommy-ness, has a scene in a restaurant where the three moms are talking about the ways in which their… Read more »

I’m sorry to have to tell you…

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Gave a nice talk at the town’s library on Sunday, about fifteen people there to talk about higher ed and how individual students and scholars navigate it. One person said that her grandson had just finished college and was about to go to graduate school to become a faculty member, and that… Read more »

Schlimmbesserung

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The music writer Sasha Frere-Jones wrote on his blog a couple of months ago that there’s a German word schlimmbesserung which means “a supposed improvement that makes things worse.” And maybe it’s just that I’m old now and reminisce about how much fun it used to be to watch the… Read more »

The Bureaucracy of Learning

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I once found a student report in a high school hallway. Three exams: 100, 100, and 93. Two homeworks at 50 points apiece, neither turned in, 0/100. Total score: 293/400, C–. So what part of this record is irrelevant? The exams, which could be aced without ever doing homework? The… Read more »

Apologies for the New Look

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It’s like New Coke. You take something everybody loves, and mess with it for no reason. So when I opened Wordpress a couple of days ago, it asked to update the theme I’d been running—the sort of visual template package that organizes site elements. And I didn’t pay close enough attention…. Read more »