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Archive for January, 2010

Leonard Vogt’s article about the possibilities and limits of the classroom as “bully pulpit” made me reflect on the disturbing election results in Massachusetts. Most of us, I think, already know what polls showed: Massachusetts voters did not vote for Scott Brown because 1. they are turning “Republican” or 2. they are against health care reform. They voted for Scott Brown because Martha Coakley ran a horrible campaign  and Scott Brown ran a great one. The “lessons” are, unfortunately, not about policies, but about effective organizing. (more…)

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Last week, when the San Diego Chargers’ Nate Kaeding missed three field goals in a playoff loss against the New York Jets that the Bolts were heavily favored to win, the Internet came alive with condemnation of the two-time Pro Bowler who, during the regular season, was pretty much automatic. On Wikipedia, that heavily favored scholarly source of so many students, Kaeding’s biography took particularly heavy hits. (more…)

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In India on a four months’ Fulbright assignment, I am encountering a reality here in Hyderabad, capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh, quite different from anything I anticipated. After more than a month on my home campus of Osmania University I am yet to meet any of my students. The students are very much “here,” demonstrating and rioting but not in their classrooms. More often than not the campus has been shut down altogether, with students sent home, armed guards at the gates, me locked in under “protective custody.” The few students I meet by the internet room are from Iran and Yemen. Like me, they have nowhere else to go.

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In the presence of the suffering in Haiti right now, and the United States media’s exploitation of it, this retired community college teacher would not mind two or three class periods back in the classroom.

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At the annual convention of the Modern Language Association in Philadelphia last month, shrinkage and decline were palpable.  The book exhibits that used to fill a large ballroom could have been accommodated in a small bar room.  Attendance was down:  I don’t know the figures, but elevators in the Marriott and Loews were nearly empty, and all the sessions I went to had more empty seats than occupied ones.  Hundreds of graduate students in English and foreign language departments were there without a single job interview, or with just one or two. (more…)

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