Category Archives: Attempting to Stay Sane

Decorum

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I wrote a few posts ago about rejection letters, a genre in which nobody ever says, “That book sounds really awful,” or “You write terribly,” or “You have no possible future in academia, as far as I can tell.” We’ve developed a veneer of civility over the whole thing, an… Read more »

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 »

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 »

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 »

It’s Not You, It’s Me

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The rejection letter is a genre of its own, and most of its writers hew pretty close to the script. I’d gone for years without any, but now that I’ve entered a newly competitive arena (fiction writing), I’m remembering them allllll over again. First, the gratitude for submitting your work. Thanks… Read more »

A Crisis of Definition

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Throughout this blog and the books it relates to, I’m oversimplifying a bit when I refer to PhDs as the degree that qualifies one for college teaching. There are others. A lot of them pertain to professions that normally don’t have a research component, like architecture. When I finished my… Read more »

The Education of Fear

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I just finished reading Natalia Ginzburg’s book of essays, The Little Virtues. The title essay is her meditation on education and parenthood, both of which she believes are far too focused on instilling small virtues such as thrift, caution, prudence, tact and success. Better, she believes, to attend to the larger virtues… Read more »

The Chasm

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I’ve tried very hard in working on this project to focus outward, to talk about what’s happening around me, to find facts and make connections. But I woke up from a nightmare this morning. The details of the dream aren’t relevant. What is relevant, if perhaps only to me, is the… Read more »

Pyramid Scheme

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I had a really interesting interview this afternoon with a scholar who, for over thirty years, has taught in a writing program at a major research university, a giant school with more undergraduate students than the entire population of my hometown. And this writing program is staffed as follows: about 100… Read more »