Category Archives: Attempting to Stay Sane

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 »

Alternate explanation

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I just re-read Marc Bousquet’s How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation. You should, too, though you should be prepared for a deeply inside-language analysis that privileges critical theory over looking around. But one of the things that I’m still puzzled by is a question that isn’t… Read more »

Flooding the Market

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Just got back from some chores, looking through the mail. My wife (Ph.D. Environmental Psychology, CUNY Graduate Center, 1982) got an alumni solicitation letter from the psychology program’s new-ish “Acting Executive Officer,” crowing about the status of the program and asking for dough. Along with the bragging points about $25M in… Read more »

Combat Narratives

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We seem to have a limited vocabulary with which to describe cultural phenomena. For instance, when my wife and I bought our house, we converted an unused loft over the garage into my pool room. A room of contemplation and meditation, a room in which the pool table itself was… Read more »

Oversimplifiers of the World, Unite!

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For years, I’ve made the case that every faculty member plays three roles for their students, even without knowing they’re doing it. There’s the teacher, the person who introduces students to the material of a field and the rigor of its investigation. There’s the supervisor, the person who takes an… Read more »

A Job I Can’t Imagine Wanting

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I have two good friends who have both recently become college presidents. One visited last weekend. And as part of a long and wide-ranging dinner conversation with her and her family, blessedly little of which was about higher ed, she did happen to mention that she’d discovered how much money her… Read more »

Stack of Futility

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I took my trash and recycling down to the local transfer station this morning, chatted with Glen our dumpmaster about our coming plans for large waste and scrap metal collection day (a town official’s work is never done). One of the things Glen does is to take things that others… Read more »

Bureaucratic Blues

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It’s increasingly evident to me that accreditation is an instance of Oscar Wilde’s observation about “knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.” Wilde used that as his definition of a cynic, and accreditation increasingly feels cynical to me. Bureaucracies are almost by definition cynical enterprises. They have to… Read more »