Designers vs. Conversers

What have you learned about people?

by Dennis Shasha (NYU)

When I entered college, I thought the intellectual world was divided into science people and humanities people. I loved math and physics, so put myself firmly in the former camp.

Funnily though, I found that I had much more in common with painters and sculptors than say with political scientists or economists.

I finally married an artist in fact.

It took me to my first job — designing circuits for computer processors — to realize why. Continue reading “Designers vs. Conversers”

Bring Back Meals Together NOW.

How can students and faculty improve their interaction?

by Gwendolyn Toth (Montclair State)

When I attended college in the 1970s, it was clear that we were there to learn from our brilliant professors. However, as I look back with 35 years hindsight, I realize that learning occurred not only in the classroom, the laboratory, the rehearsal hall, the dorm rooms, the rec rooms, and late-night bars (we could drink in those days).

We also learned in the dining hall.

Over food we met new friends with new points of view. Discussions started in late-morning classes continued at lunch with both students and teachers.

We all ate together every day.

Fast forward to 2012. Continue reading “Bring Back Meals Together NOW.”

Talk Onto the Page

How can you write better?

by: Peter Elbow (UMass)

I got interested in writing because in my first try for a PhD at Harvard, I gradually couldn’t write.  I had to quit before I was kicked out and felt like a complete failure because I had so much invested in my image of myself as a good student.  When I went back to grad school five years later (at Brandeis) I gradually learned what became my philosophy of writing:  I can’t write right, but I can write wrong;  and then I can make it right.  It’s too hard to take a mess in the head and turn it into coherence on paper;  but it’s not so hard to take a mess on paper and turn it into coherence on paper.

My current interests (reflected in my new book) concern the wisdom of the tongue.  Starting around age four, we all internalize a native language.  No one’s native language is Continue reading “Talk Onto the Page”

You do not need permission to do the right thing. No one can give you permission to do the wrong thing.

How do you teach people to do the right thing?

by Brooke Allen (Q4Colleges.com)

The unspoken contract when you are hitch-hiking is that you need to be more interesting than the radio. One summer (circa 1973), Debra and I decided to see how far away from New Brunswick, New Jersey we could get when all we had was $49 and three weeks.

We knew that repeating your own life story over and over gets repetitious so we used a little trick. We would ask each person who gave us a ride to tell us their story and then we would tell the next person the previous person’s story. Continue reading “You do not need permission to do the right thing. No one can give you permission to do the wrong thing.”

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”

Photocopy My Book Chapter? You Don’t Even Have to Ask

Do we need to pay for knowledge?

By Zick Rubin (Harvard, Brandeis)

Last month, as college students across the country prepared to head back to campuses, my fax machine coughed out my annual “Request for Permission” from the Copyright Clearance Center, the corporation that is one of the world’s largest brokers of licenses to copy other people’s work.

As in past years, the center asked me how much I wanted to charge to permit Middle Earth College to include a copy of Chapter 5 of my book, Liking and Loving: An Invitation to Social Psychology, in a course pack for the 18 students enrolled in Professor McClain’s Management 710 this fall. (I’ve changed the names of the college, the professor, and the course.)

If past experience were a guide, I could name Continue reading “Photocopy My Book Chapter? You Don’t Even Have to Ask”

You’ve Got Mail. And Better Things to Do.

How can we communicate more effectively?

By Jason B. Jones (Central Connecticut State)

Midway through his career, my father moved from the faculty of his community college into administration, where he has remained for some 20 years now. In those decades, his only real regret has been that he must use his college-issued cellphone. That phone means his attention is always potentially divided because he is, in principle, always available to his campus.

What for my father is a college-imposed shackle has become for many of us a self-chosen cage: Continue reading “You’ve Got Mail. And Better Things to Do.”