Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Wednesday Links

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original* Apocalypse now: Nearly One In 10 U.S. Watersheds Is ‘Stressed.’

* Homeland showrunner Alex Gansa explains why the show is just going to get worse and worse and worse.

The protest took the form of three words, or three letters, scribbled onto equipment tape or actual equipment last Saturday during college football games. All Players United, or A.P.U., it read.

* Sensationalized bullshit gets around the world before nuance even has the chance to get its shoes on: Are Tenured Professors Really Worse Teachers? A Lit Review.

In 2006, however, Eric Bettinger and Bridget Terry Long published a book chapter that did address the graduation rate question by looking at student data. Analyzing the records of 43,000 undergraduates at public, four-year colleges in Ohio, they reached the “straightforward and unambiguous” result that freshman taught by adjuncts were more likely to drop out….

Of note here: The big divide wasn’t between tenured and non-tenured professors, but part-time vs. full-time.

Four years later, Bettinger and Long published a second study that added some interesting nuances to their findings. Ohio freshmen, they found, were actually more likely to take additional classes in a career-oriented field (think business, journalism, or computer science) if their first course was taught by an adjunct. In more academic departments (think English or History) students taught by adjuncts were less likely to come back for more. Once they looked beyond freshmen year, the authors found that adjuncts had a positive effect on student interest in every field, though it was still strongest in pre-professional areas of study.

Digital Craft and Humanistic Perspectives Beyond Academia.

  • We need to avoid the mentality of academic self-propagation – graduate studies should not focus on producing more academics, we should assume the norm is to form students for non-academic jobs (much as we do at the undergraduate level).
  • We need to better valorize the masters as a terminal degree – these aren’t the academic dropouts, they are super-graduates who have chosen not to further specialize.
  • We should explore an enhanced masters (or other designation) that fills an enormous gap between the short masters and the long doctorate.
  • We should, through example, encourage students to think of the value of their humanities knowledge, to be able to express it to others, and in some cases to imagine entrepreneurial opportunities for their expertise (have students feel empowered to create a job rather than searching for one).
  • We need to set a higher standard of digital literacy for humanities programs in simple recognition that graduates will be searching for employment in an information age (and more generally participating in a digital society).
  • We need to provide far more opportunities for humanities graduate students to become creators of contentbeyond text-based academic scholarship – producing such tangible works (digital or otherwise) can be valuable in a portfolio and lead to the development of differentiating skillsets on the job market.
  • We need to disrupt the dominance of the classroom-centric, multi-course per term format which seems to persist far more out of bureaucratic habit and convenience than pedagogical soundness. An alternative model is the “block plan” at Quest University, where students take intensive three-week courses. Graduate students might be expected to spend several consecutive days absorbing the more relevant and thought-provoking materials available, from published articles and monographs to blog posts and online videos. There may even be room for a MOOC-like component to provide some core concepts in highly produced and polished form (yes, as heretical as it may sound, I do believe that some aspects of knowledge in the humanities can be fairly neatly packaged, especially in a hybrid model where there are also more intensive small-scale interactions).

* Doin’ it wrong: Usually at the beginning of the semester a hand shoots up and someone asks why there aren’t any women writers in the course. I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth. UPDATE: An apology (kind of). UPDATE UPDATE: Hazlit has now published the full interview.

* Reforming campus rape culture and sexual assault unreporting.

* Public service announcement: Harvard is ridiculously rich. Please do not donate money to Harvard.

* Ballard, Miéville, Seinfeld, and the pornography of infinity.

Real-world Civilization game shows impact of war.

* It’s the utterly pointless prequel you’ve been dying to see, almost the ultimate crystallization of what’s wrong with this trend: Commissioner Gordon.

* 18 Products You’ve Been Using Wrong. At least one or two of these is actually helpful!

* Gawker announces plan to solve the privilege hierarchy once and for all.

* And a diver has finally captured our first photographic evidence of the creature scientists call “the Cookie Monster of the Sea.”

Stove Pipe Sponge, Aplysina archeri

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