Tangential thinking about teaching, technology, and tangents
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Advice to Potential Job Applicants . . .
Confessions of a Community College Dean: "Public Service Announcement: Advice to Job Candidates from the Dean
Having gone through many searches over the last few years, I’ve developed a list of hints for job candidates (both faculty and administrative). If they seem obvious, you’re in good shape. If they don’t, PLEASE print them out, keep them, use them.
Proofread! There is simply no excuse for typos, poor grammar, or geographical howlers in a cover letter. (At my old school, also in the Northeast, we had a candidate who declared in the second paragraph of his cover letter that he never applies to schools in the Northeast. That was the end of that.) I’ve seen far too many Ph.D.’s send letters that look like they were written by distracted high schoolers.
Respond quickly. We are sometimes up against external deadlines of our own, and I’ve seen otherwise-viable candidates get rejected simply because they missed the window. (Corrolary: never, never, never take seriously the announced deadline. Always beat it by a wide margin. For reasons I’ll never understand, I’ve seen far too many committees jump the gun and simply lose patience with applications that arrive at the last minute.)
Don’t cop an attitude at the interview. You may, in your heart of hearts, think that my college is beneath you. I don’t, and the professors here don’t, either. We will not be intimidated. If you think you’re doing us a favor, don’t do us any favors.
Check the college website! If you couldn’t be bothered to do a little preliminary scoping, I get the message that you aren’t serious about working here. Ask questions that show that you’ve done your homework.
Don’t trash your previous employer. Even if everything you say is true (and it may well be), we’ll wonder if it just reflects a hyper-critical or high-maintenance personality. Even if you’re escaping a sinking ship, make clear that the attraction to the new position consists of more than ‘it’s not the old position.’
Keep it mind that, appearances notwithstanding, it’s not all about you. I’ve had interviews with intelligent, accomplished, charming, winsome candidates I couldn’t hire. At the end of the day, it’s about what the institution needs. If that’s you, great. If not, it’s not usually because of anything you could control. (Exceptions: if you commit the gaffes above. The cover letter gaffe will prevent you from even getting to the interview stage.)
Here's what I wish my students knew. (And most of them do; it's the few who don't that really stand out for me.)
Going to college is a privilege, not a right.
While you are paying for my services, this does not mean that I should cater to you. Because you are paying me to teach you, you are implying that I have knowledge that you need. This means that I am probably intelligent enough to devise a course that will enable you to gain sufficient mastery of the material (if you try). This also means that all of the assignments I give you have a purpose. You should take the time to do the assignments, and do them properly. Oh, and coming to class? You should probably try it.
My job is not only to help you learn the course material, but also to prepare you for life. In the real world, most employers will not accept tardiness, late assignments, or excuses. I do not either. Your grades should be earned, not given to you."
I've always been highly skeptical of co-authored articles in the sciences, business, and education. People in these schools continually claim that a co-authored article should count the same as an article with only one author when it comes to making tenure or promotions decisions. Can you really tell me that eight people working together on one 20 page article are doing the same amount of work as one person in the humanities who produces a single authored 20 page article? I really doubt it.
As I sweat away on this summer's article, I ran across this wonderful cartoon about co-authored articles in the sciences. It confirms all my suspicions. Now I must find a way to get this into the Provost's hands without him knowing it came from me.
The real meaning behind the co-authorship list. Posted by Hello"
As promised, here is a list of 24 jargony words to drink by. Special thanks to all of those who played along, and to all those who will hoist a few henceforth. The rules are simple: Each time you hear one of these often-used words from the education world, take a swig of whatever makes you happy. If you have no beverage (as often happens when these words come up) feel free to giggle, as long as you promise to do it in a manner that is completely condescending to those around you!
1. Rubric (Just try not to laugh the next time you hear it!)
5. Dead white guys
6. Scaffold (as a verb)
7. Authentic learning
8. Differentiated instruction
9. Integrated learning
11. Balanced literacy
12. Highly qualified
17. Self-directed learning (Sounds too much like something that causes hair to grow on palms.)
19. Capacity building
20. Best practices (Mandatory group hugs, however, around anyone who uses the vernacular 'stuff that works pretty good.')
21. Higher order thinking (I had a roommate in college who was really into higher order thinking. He is no longer able to produce children.)
22. Collaborate (Not unless pastries are served.)
23. Transparency (It doesn't really exist.)
24. Train wreck (When used to describe standards movement/NCLB, etc. )
Smithsonian Institution Archives: "Marcel C. LaFollette, an independent scholar, historian and Smithsonian volunteer uncovered rare, unpublished photographs of the 1925 Tennessee vs. John Scopes “Monkey Trial” in the Smithsonian Institution Archives. The nitrate negatives, including portraits of trial participants, and images from the trial itself and significant places in Dayton, were discovered in archival material donated to the Smithsonian by Science Service in 1971. The online finding aid to records of the Science Service, 1902-1965 (SIA Record Unit 7091) list additional materials in the collection."
After years of listening to other peoples' lies, you decided you've had enough. Now you're out to tell it like it is, with all the gory details and nothing left out. Instead of respecting leaders, you want to know what the common people have to offer. But this revolution still has a long way to go, and you're not against making a little profit while you wait. Honesty is your best policy.
The Washington Monthly - more on the CHE blogging article
The Washington Monthly: "Unsurprisingly, as Dan notes, blogger reaction to this essay has been caustic. But it's hard to know if the criticism is valid or not because Tribble is frustratingly vague about the real content of the blogs he writes about.
Was Professor Turbo Geek just a computer hobbyist? Or did PTG reveal that a typical day included 14 hours a day coding HTML followed by exclamations like 'Christ, I wish I never had to read another Victorian poem again'?
Did Professor Shrill just vent about daily life? Or are we talking about dark and detailed confessions of homicidal urges aimed at close colleagues?
As for Bagged Cat, I'd venture to say that by boasting to a blogger about his illicit puffery, he failed not just the integrity test for a faculty position, but the IQ test as well."
coffee grounds: Should you blog?: "It will also be quite a while (four years, at least) before I'm on the academic job market. I think it's likely that in that time the multi-purpose, multi-topic academic blog will be better understood by search committees. And if they still have anxieties about blogs, they'll probably still have anxieties about other indications of outside interests and well-formed personalities."
Tightly Wound: Oh, Dear.: "The 'Oh dear! We might get blogged about! And people outside our influence might find out what we're really up to!' reaction. Imagine! New faculty might be autonomous! They might have--gasp--opinions! Or personal preferences! Or they might not be willing to shut up and go along like a good little peon! The horror! The nerve!
In other words, if you wanna be an academic, you'd better shut your mouth and get on the reservation, baby. No freedom of expression for you!
Unless you blog anonymously. And for the love of God, don't put your web address on your resume."
Planned Obsolescence: "It is clear that “Ivan Tribble”—and oh, the juicy irony of such an anonymous, snarky rant from someone so apparently above the level of blogdom—imagines the web not at all as a vehicle for the development, exploration, and communication of new modes of interconnection among individual users, but rather as a convenient location from which to spy on those around him. I choose the masculine pronoun here both in reflection of the author’s masculine nom de plume and in service to the ringing sound of “old boy” around the author’s prose, something further supported by his easy panopticism and the conclusions he draws from what he finds. "
Confessions of a Community College Dean: "The AP had a lengthy story this morning making many of the same points, although not just in an academic context. The argument, such as it was, boiled down to “blogs can be used for bad things, so best to avoid them altogether.”
Following that logic, of course, job seekers (and holders) should also avoid use of the telephone, the word processor, email, and their own voice, since these could also be used for nefarious purposes. Indeed, best not to form any human attachments whatsoever, since, in the logic of the piece in the Chronicle, they might lead to non-peer-reviewed activities."
National Archives Resources for Today’s Topics name="City"/> name="place" downloadurl="http://www.5iantlavalamp.com/"/> name="date"/>
National Archives Resources for Today’s Topics
July 11, 2005
1. Digital Classroom
Since we’re centering on the constitution and most materials are related to the federal government, many lesson plans in the Digital Classroom fall under this topic. The following are also African American sites:
Frog in a Well - The China History Group Blog: "I find it hard to imagine how having a blog would hurt you. People can be happy at places where the whole department lives in their little cubbyholes and the only shared intellectual life is figuring out how to unjam the copier. At a place like that I would assume that all they really care about is how much stuff you pump out, and your passion for mountain climbing or Shonen Knife is pretty much irrelevant. There are departments, like that of the Chronicle writer, where the faculty have trained their wills to the domination of others through years in the classroom, and look at junior faculty as a particularly tasty carcass to be dismembered, but do you really want that job?"
HaloScan.com - Comments: "'Several committee members expressed concern that a blogger who joined our staff might air departmental dirty laundry (real or imagined) on the cyber clothesline for the world to see. Past good behavior is no guarantee against future lapses of professional decorum.'
What happens in the university, stays in the university. It's a sort of a feudal mafia."
One Man's Opinion?-?Everyone's Got One!: "What Ivan is saying here (let me parse it for you) is that we the members of your search committee really don't care if you say idiotic things in class because the only people that might hear you say them are your students, and teachers don't exist for the benefit of their students. We your search committee are more concerned with what you might do in your 'off-time' that could potentially embarass us (as pseudonymous Ivan must have done for his school in writing his Chronicle article).
Stop and think about that. The ramifications of an idiotic post outweigh the ramifications of faulty teaching. "
Bitch. Ph.D.: This right here is why I don't blog under my real name
Bitch. Ph.D.: This right here is why I don't blog under my real name: "This right here is why I don't blog under my real name
Shorter Chronicle of Higher Ed: blogging is dangerous because hiring committees are paranoid, conservative, and illogical. Even if you are not indiscreet on your blog, you could become so--but if you don't have a blog, you couldn't possibly start one and therefore never be indiscreet.* Publishing pseudonymous articles about your search committee deliberations in the Chronicle of Higher Ed, though, is not indiscreet.
Also, we don't want to work with people who get frustrated by traffic or who are in any way anxious or neurotic because of course we are all paragons of mental health, and it isn't in any way discriminatory to decide not to hire someone because you think they need therapy."
My first reaction to reading the Chronicle article dribble by Tribble yesterday morning, before even seeing all of the discussion that has popped up around it, was 'Well, I probably wouldn't want to work there, anyway.'"
This is a great response by profgrrrrl to the CHE article with los of thoughtful commentary and links to others who also discussed the issue.
What is it with job seekers who also write blogs? Our recent faculty search at Quaint Old College resulted in a number of bloggers among our semifinalists. Those candidates looked good enough on paper to merit a phone interview, after which they were still being seriously considered for an on-campus interview.
That's when the committee took a look at their online activity.
In some cases, a Google search of the candidate's name turned up his or her blog. Other candidates told us about their Web site, even making sure we had the URL so we wouldn't fail to find it. In one case, a candidate had mentioned it in the cover letter. We felt compelled to follow up in each of those instances, and it turned out to be every bit as eye-opening as a train wreck.
Don't get me wrong: Our initial thoughts about blogs were, if anything, positive. It was easy to imagine creative academics carrying their scholarly activity outside the classroom and the narrow audience of print publications into a new venue, one more widely available to the public and a tech-savvy student audience.
We wanted to hire somebody in our stack of finalists, so we gave the same -- or more -- benefit of the doubt to the bloggers as to the others in the pool.
A candidate's blog is more accessible to the search committee than most forms of scholarly output. It can be hard to lay your hands on an obscure journal or book chapter, but the applicant's blog comes up on any computer. Several members of our search committee found the sheer volume of blog entries daunting enough to quit after reading a few. Others persisted into what turned out, in some cases, to be the dank, dark depths of the blogger's tormented soul; in other cases, the far limits of techno-geekdom; and in one case, a cat better off left in the bag.
The pertinent question for bloggers is simply, Why? What is the purpose of broadcasting one's unfiltered thoughts to the whole wired world? It's not hard to imagine legitimate, constructive applications for such a forum. But it's also not hard to find examples of the worst kinds of uses.
A blog easily becomes a therapeutic outlet, a place to vent petty gripes and frustrations stemming from congested traffic, rude sales clerks, or unpleasant national news. It becomes an open diary or confessional booth, where inward thoughts are publicly aired.
Worst of all, for professional academics, it's a publishing medium with no vetting process, no review board, and no editor. The author is the sole judge of what constitutes publishable material, and the medium allows for instantaneous distribution. After wrapping up a juicy rant at 3 a.m., it only takes a few clicks to put it into global circulation."
I'll be interested to see what other academic bloggers think of this.
(2005-06-30) -- In an effort to reframe the national security debate in a way that could placate critics within his own party, President George Bush today announced that the U.S.-Mexico border has been renamed the 'U.S.-Mexico junction'.
The executive order changing the terminology follows the president's meeting with linguistic consultant George Lakoff, who recently helped the Democrat party realize that Americans don't oppose their liberal ideology, just the words they use to talk about key issues.
'Folks get concerned when illegal aliens, of unknown origin and motivations pour across the border by the thousands each day,' said Mr. Bush. 'But I now understand that the real issue is the word 'border' itself. It's so forbidding and sounds like a barrier rather than place of coming together.'
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) immediately hired a consultant from Wal-Mart to retrain border guards for their new junction function, which closely mirrors the role of a Wal-Mart 'People Greeter'.
'There's a security element to the job,' the president said. 'But for the most part, it's about making folks feel welcome in our free and open society, and not discriminating against those who violate our laws. After all, most of them have never been arrested or convicted, and in America you're innocent until proven guilty.'"
I especially like the part about the Wal-mart greeters . . .
Today we have an exclusive--an insight into the inner workings of academe as it pertains to handling unfortunately outspoken members of the professoriate. Yes, I have managed to get my hands on a series of memos from Colorado that discuss the latest wackiness from everyone's 'favorite' 'Native American' 'professor,' Ward Churchill. Read and be enlightened...
The Morning Sun: 'It was a symbol of faith' 07/02/05
The Morning Sun: 'It was a symbol of faith' 07/02/05: "
Stephanie Farley/The Morning Sun
St. Francis Catholic Church's steeple was not where it should be when residents woke up on Friday morning. Instead of serving as the beacon of St. Paul's community, the steeple lay strewn about in pieces on the ground after it was severely damaged in Thursday night's series of storms that ripped through southeast Kansas. Neosho County Sheriff James Keath said that while the majority of damage was caused by straight-lined winds, some of the damage could have been caused by possible tornadic activity.
'It was a symbol of faith'
Winds bring down St. Francis Church steeple
By STEPHANIE FARLEY
Morning Sun Staff Writer
Pam Strong could see it every morning as she drove to Macs Git-N-Split convenience store where she works as a cashier. It was her light.
It would calm her down whenever she came into work in a bad mood.
'It was a symbol of faith,' she said. 'It was like someone saying, 'It'll be all right. It'll be all right.''"
Strong Tornadoes cause damage in southern Neosho County
A strong upper level low pressure system moved east across Nebraska on Thursday. Meanwhile, a surface low pressure was centered over northeast Kansas and deepened during the afternoon. As the surface low deepened, a dryline surged east across the state and reached southeast Kansas by late afternoon. Thunderstorms developed rapidly around 5pm over Neosho and Labette counties, as the dryline pushed into a very unstable airmass sitting over the area. The thunderstorms transitioned into the classic Supercell type storms shortly thereafter, producing large hail and the rare weather phenomenon (tornadoes). See Image 1 and Image 2 for reflectivity and velocity data from the KINX radar site in Tulsa, OK.
Image 3 is an picture of the overshooting top from the supercell in Neosho county. This usually indicates very intense updraft strength with-in thunderstorms.
A tornado damage assessment team from NOAA's National Weather Service office out of Wichita, Kansas went to Neosho County to assess the strength of the tornadoes that touched down in that area. They found evidence of 2 separate tornadoes touching down. Specifics on each tornado are listed below: See Image 4 for Tornado tracks in Neosho county.
Tornado #1: The tornado first touched down just a few miles south of Galesburg or just north of Parson's Lake in Neosho county, and remained on the ground for 5 miles. See Image 5. The tornado gained strength as it moved east and severely damaged a house. The tornado was rated F3(158-206mph) on the Fujita scale ( Image 6)( Image 7). The tornado lifted about a mile west of highway 59.
Tornado #2: The supercell continued to move east and spwaned a second tornado about 4 miles south of St. Paul in Neosho county. The tornado remained on the ground for about 7 miles as it tracked northeast. A barn was destroyed along with some tree damage. The tornado reached F1(73- 112mph) status on the Fujita scale.
Tornado #3: A weak F0(less than 73mph) tornado touched down 8 miles east of Parsons in northeast Labette county at U.S. Highway 400 and York Rd. No damaged occured with this brief touch down.
More images of damage from the tornadoes.
This story was brought to you by the National Weather Service - Wichita KS"