Seth Godin on Mediocre Professors

Are you paying for your own education? Are you in school to learn or for a grade? What are your motives, your goals? Are you in it just for yourself? Are you part of the problem or the solution?

“This is costing me a fortune, prof! Push us! Push yourself!” writes Seth Godin in a recent blog post.

Read more:

A Halloween “I Am” Poem! (via art predator)

“I am” poems can be lots of fun to play with as a structure for a poem or just to explore ideas. You can write about yourself or take on a persona. This one was written with a group of kindergarten and first graders.

Happy Halloween: From a Scary Smelly Skeleton Pirate! I am a scary smelly skeleton pirate! I wonder where the treasure is I hear black rusty shooting fire cannonballs and swords slapping I see other English ships to get their treasure I want treasure, a golden compass, and a gold ring I am a scary smelly skeleton pirate! I pretend to play swords with you I  feel my bones cracking I touch the shark’s teeth I worry about my pirate ship and how it will disappear one day I cry when my boat tips upside d … Read More

via art predator

Planetary Problems, Botany of Desire, Writing Projects

This semester, my students and I are thinking about the “Triple Bottom Line: People, Planet, Profit.” We started class by reading various essays about “people” then we moved on to planet, thinking about what we eat and how we live, and reading Michael Pollan’s Botany of Desire.

Students have been giving presentations on sections of the book: Apple, Tulip, Marijuana, Potato, and now it’s time to begin the writing process to produce a paper on a topic relevant to planet; I’ll review first drafts today.

Here are a series of questions for us to consider today. Please write a note discussing them to turn in with your draft at the beginning of class.

  • 1. What concerns you most about the planet?
  • 2. What interested you most about what we’ve studied?
  • 3. What did/do you like best about your group’s presentation? Another presentation? What have you learned from the presentations?
  • 4. What is your paper about? What texts are you using? What’s your argument?

Blog Action Day 2010 Friday: water water everywhere but is there enough to drink? (via art predator)

Students, you are strongly encouraged to participate in Blog Action Day! It’s this Friday but you can write a post anytime and schedule it to publish on Friday, October 15.

Blog Action Day 2010 Friday: water water everywhere but is there enough to drink? This Friday’s Blog Action Day focusing on water  has attracted some heavy hitter bloggers, namely, the White House and the UK Foreign Office will both be joining blogging about water October 15, and more will be announced as the week progresses. Will you be joining in? It only takes a few seconds to register your blog for Blog Action Day 2010. Can you help spread the word about this year’s Blog Action Day Friday October 15? Send an email to fello … Read More

via art predator

It’s National Coming Out Day: It Gets Better

Recently, six young people committed suicide: they just couldn’t take being bullied any more for being different. They felt alone and hopeless; they gave up the fight.

In response to this, sex columnist Dan Savage started a you-tube channel where people can post videos of encouragement–to show that it does indeed get better, that they will one day find acceptance, love, and community. Read more about it in this article from the LA Times from Sunday October 10, 2010 by Nicole Santa Cruz.

In addition to you-tubes, there is a body of literature which provides narratives of surviving the pressures of the dominant culture. I teach as many of these narratives as possible each semester to help us all understand each other, including an essay by Bernard Cooper.

Most of my students in my classes express to me in various ways how much they enjoy the diversity of readings I assign for class and how they like seeing someone they can identify with in print. However,  some do not “get it”–that by learning about other cultures and ethnicities, and the experiences of others from and outside the dominant culture, we learn about ourselves, we learn about our neighbors, we learn how to empathize, and we see how we are more alike than different. Some students go so far as to insist that the readings are racist against white people, that there aren’t any or enough by “whites.” In fact one student went so far as to say the college itself is racist against white people.

This gave me cause to count the number of texts by people of color and by the dominant culture. I’m embarrassed to admit that even with my best effort to balance the curriculum so that we read works not written by the dominant culture, the texts are still primarily written and produced by whites (my best guess anyway):

Writing texts:
all written by whites

Botany of Desire
by Michael Pollan (white)

Assigned essays from 50 Essays edited by Samuel Cohen–
9 essays by people of color, 13 essays by whites (edited by a white man)

2 chapters from Splinter in the Mind (handouts) by Matt Lawrence (white)

Today, I hope you will join me in standing up for helping it get better for everyone who is outside the mainstream and to support the learning of those people in the dominant culture to help them come to terms with their issues and fears.

Philip Roth: I write my way into my knowledge

Some wise words here on Philip Roth’s writing process.

Philip Roth: I write my way into knowledge “I don’t know very much,” says Philip Roth describing how he begins a novel in an recent interview with David Ulin published 10/3/10 in The LA Times. “I write my way into my knowledge,” Philip Roth says, “Then if I’m lucky, I get a break. That’s why it’s so important to get started. Because however awful starting is–and it is absolutely awful–when you get into it, when you’ve got 10 pages which may take two weeks, then you can begin to build.” “Pe … Read More

via The Write Alley

10/10/10: A Day of Action & CicLAvia take to the streets! (via Bikergo Gal)

Students, here are more opportunities to do service learning or to attend events.

10/10/10: A Day of Action & CicLAvia take to the streets! On Sunday 10/10/10 take action! Bill McKibben of says: “With your help, 10/10/10 is going to be the biggest day of practical action to cut carbon that the world has ever seen. We’re calling it “A Day to Celebrate Climate Solutions”–together we’ll get to work in our communities on projects that can cut carbon and build the clean energy future. But we won’t stop there–we’ll be using the day to pressure our leaders to Get To Work themselve … Read More

via Bikergo Gal

LA Times OP-ED: Texters, you’d be better off driving drunk –

Students, there’s a time and a place for texting. It’s not while you’re in a classroom learning and it’s not in the car while you’re driving.

Op-Ed Essay from by Michael Fumento
published Sunday October 3, 2010 A 27

“Border collie jill surveying the view from atop the sand dune.” Those were the last words of Malibu plastic surgeon Frank Ryan, best known for “reconstructing” reality TV star Heidi Montag. It’s not quite up there with “Et tu, Brute?” Yet it seemed important enough for him to text it just before driving off a cliff in August. Jill survived.

We don’t know what the message was in a 2007 accident involving the sender and her four fellow New York high school cheerleaders. But it probably wasn’t worth slamming head-on into a truck, killing them all. And the 2008 Chatsworth train collision, in which 25 people died and more than 100 were injured, was officially attributed to the engineer of the Metrolink commuter train being distracted by text messaging.

Unfortunately, laws intended to deal with the problem of texting while driving, a major topic at the Transportation Department’s Distracted Driving Summit on Sept. 21, reflect vital misunderstandings about why a cellphone combined with a moving vehicle can be so deadly and how to deal with it.

Texting while driving can be more dangerous than driving while swigging Jack Daniels, according to studies. Continue reading