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September 22, 2007

Why are we here?

Though it isn't a part of the overall plan I had for the class, there was an interesting article in the Boston Globe last week about the reasons for education. Anthony Kronman attacks the emphasis on research which guides modern universities (remember that I placed research at the center of what this class is all about) suggesting that it is a bad thing.

I would like to throw the article out there as another opportunity for position papers and responses for next couple of weeks. I'd like there to be a good variety of things discussed on the blog to make responses possible. Remember that ideally you should be writing around one response/comment per week to make the participation grade work out right. I will count/grade them before class on Tuesdays. But I digress...

I've put some edited quotes from the Globe article in the extended entry, have a look if you want something different to think about.

Continue reading "Why are we here?" »

September 19, 2007

Response for Marissa and TJ

Although there weren't a lot of position papers from the first week, the ones that were written were strong.

One thing I forgot to mention was the possibility of using the "extended entry" section in Movable Type to hide longer form entries to make the front page neater. I'm going to do that here, so you get an idea of how it works.

I want to comment specifically on some passages that I thought were quite well done-- for those of you still thinking about getting a position paper in by tomorrow midnight, you might want to have a look at what I consider really successful about these position papers. Simply click on the "continue reading" link at the end of this entry to read what I have to say.

Continue reading "Response for Marissa and TJ" »

September 16, 2007

No Response

I notice that 2 people out of 21 (10%) of the class have had the guts/interest to actually start trying to use the primary discussion tool, and only then because they perceive it as an assignment. As I've tried to explain in class, I know I can't make you interested in things, I can't make you have a sense of wonder-- but that is what I'd love to see happen here. I tried to set a certain tone of silliness because I want you to feel free to be yourself instead of just being "the student."

Students get tested. Students pass or fail. Students do a very limited number of things, mostly dictated by "teachers." People live. People get interested or bored by stuff. People respond to other people, not just to "assignments." People have fun. Can we have a little fun along with fulfilling our designated roles of teacher and student here? In other words, can we just talk? Don't be so shy. It will be a really long semester otherwise.

Some people might be confused by the concept of "responses." It's really simple. There is a button on every post here that says "comment." Click on it. Write something about the post you're commenting on. It can be long or short. If it's long enough, you get credit for it. It's that simple.

When I said on the syllabus that responses were due on Tuesdays, I meant before class on Tuesday. The reason for this is that when people make the effort to formulate a position, it actually sort of hurts when no one pays attention to what they have to say. The sooner you can respond, the better people can feel about going to the trouble to write for you. The position statements are actually for you (the members of the class) not me-- they give you a chance to hear what other people think. As a teacher, I need to evaluate them, but that happens in private. You really just need to listen to them, and ask yourself if you agree or not. It's not that hard. If you can give reasons or make comparisons, then it's a response that I can privately evaluate. I won't be cutting people apart in public. It's not my style.

Are there any questions? If it's a teacher question, feel free to email it unless you think it is of general interest. Talk amongst yourselves. I mean it. I don't want to be the center of attention here. When I write in public on the internet, I hate "playing teacher." I like writing stuff that I think might be interesting to other people. Try to quit "playing student" and write things that are interesting to other people instead of "the teacher". You will not be graded on that. Most people actually find it fun-- it's like, well, talking! I don't like begging, but I also hate silence. Is there anybody out there?