From Street Gang to Ph. D. – It is Easier to Work Harder than Get Smarter.

How does a poor student become a good one?

by Mark Halfon (Nassau Community)

I graduated from high school with a 69 average, which at least was better than all my friends in my Brooklyn street gang. My high school counselor told my mother that I was just not “college material.”

He might have been right; no college wanted me as a student, and who could blame them.

As it turns out Pace College in New York let me pay for classes as long as they didn’t have to give me credit for attending thereby dragging down their rankings. They call this being a “non-matriculated” student. Despite my poor high school record, I excelled in mathematics and thought I would become an accountant. Continue reading “From Street Gang to Ph. D. – It is Easier to Work Harder than Get Smarter.”

Creative Plagiarism

Is imitation a form of flattery – or stealing?

By Paula Marantz Cohen (Drexel)

In recent years, I have come across something that I call creative plagiarism. Almost every time I teach fiction-writing, one or two students seem compelled to write a story that closely resembles a published work we’ve read. These students are not trying to perpetrate a deception, since the material they incorporate has been previously discussed by the class, usually only a week or two earlier.

I was able to shed light on what might be going on through an exercise I did with my creative-writing class. I asked them to read two short stories for discussion at our next meeting. I provided the stories in photocopy, with the authors and the dates removed.

The stories were “Mrs. Adis,” by the British writer Sheila Kaye-Smith, published inThe Century Magazine in 1922, and “Sanctuary,” by the African-American writer Nella Larsen, published in the magazine Forum in 1930. Larsen’s story, as those familiar with her biography will know, was quickly viewed as a Continue reading “Creative Plagiarism”

Teaching to the World From Central New Jersey

What have you learned about teaching?

by Mitchell Duneier

A few months ago, just as the campus of Princeton University had grown nearly silent after commencement, 40,000 students from 113 countries arrived here via the Internet to take a free course in introductory sociology. The noncredit Princeton offering came about through a collaboration between Coursera, a new venture in online learning, and 16 universities, including my own.

When my class was announced last spring, I was both excited and nervous. Unlike computer science and other subjects in which the answers are pretty much the same around the globe, sociology can be very Continue reading “Teaching to the World From Central New Jersey”

Not Quite Bulletproof

What have you learned about life?

By Jon T. Coleman (Notre Dame)

To rise in academe and reach the high ground where review committees stop questioning your record and deans quit pondering your trajectory, where students applaud when you close out the semester with your lecture on the War of 1812 and Stephen Colbert invites you on his Report to plug your book, one must cultivate an entry-level superpower.

Save your supersonic speed, your laser-beam eyeballs, and your ability to communicate with sea life for emergencies and holiday parties. Instead concentrate on blocking projectiles. To get a job, to surmount third-year review, to receive tenure, to advance to full professorship, to merit a Wikipedia page that you didn’t write yourself, all you need to be is bulletproof. And if you want a Kevlar career, do as I say, not as I did. For while I excelled at thwarting some bullets, I had zero talent for dodging the countless shots I administered to myself.

As with most things scholastic, bulletproofing starts Continue reading “Not Quite Bulletproof”

For Love AND Money

How do you get the most out of college?

by Brian Strow (Western Kentucky)

A flourishing life is not one dimensional.  It involves the search for truth and a striving for self-awareness/ self-improvement.  It requires the development of one’s mind, body, and soul.  A flourishing life requires faith, exudes hope, and shows love to others.  It also requires a broadly defined definition of education.

Self-improvement should be a lifelong passion.  Universities and colleges offer a unique development opportunity where students are enabled, and encouraged, to embrace their flourishing in a meaningful way.  Universities and colleges are not meant to produce perfect graduates, but rather people who are better equipped to pursue their view of a flourishing life.  Too often students obtain their degree without actually Continue reading “For Love AND Money”

Those Who Can’t: 27 Ways of Looking at a Classroom

What have you learned about teaching?

by David L. Kirp (Berkeley)

1. I was a second-year graduate student when I got hired – more years ago than I care to remember – for my first teaching job as an instructor of something called “expository writing.” Make up a course, I was told, there’s nothing to it. But even as I was ordering books and inventing paper topics for the unsuspecting freshmen, I just knew that everybody involved, especially the students, understood that the enterprise was farcical. What did I, barely lettered and entirely untrained, have to say to ferociously smart 18-year-olds? How long would it take before someone dropped the curtain to end the play?

As I approached the classroom that first day, I peered in at the 20 slouching bodies, then stared at Continue reading “Those Who Can’t: 27 Ways of Looking at a Classroom”