Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Interactive Maps for the AHA Annual Meeting

If you're going to the American Historical Association annual meeting, they've posted a blog entry with area maps. Of course, I'm most interested in this one. Not sure yet if I"m giong given that I will be in DC twice in the 6 weeks before.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, October 29, 2007


From Inside Higher Ed, more food for thought . . . (or, are students customers)

o I thought I would try to fit in better. I compared my reading load and teaching style with that of Professor Queenbee, whose pedagogy I respected, who was popular, but who also had a reputation for being rigorous. The page count was the same. I couldn’t understand what the problem could be, so I resorted to asking a student why her peers objected to my reading assignments. “You expect us to answer questions about them!” she said in their defense. “Professor Queenbee just tells us what they say.” I guess I just don’t like my students enough to do that for them.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Avoid Boring People

Thanks to Dan Reed, I ordered a copy of "Avoid Boring People" and had a chance this afternoon (or should I say, made time) to sit down and start reading it. While it's obvious that he has not patience for those not as intelligent as he is, his "rules of life" including avoiding boring people (and he also references scientists who are boring at social parties . . . ). It's a retrospective of Watson's life - written after he wrote his books about his vital work with DNA.

I have tried to better understand science through the context of writing grants for the local education service center through which I do some of my history grant work. And I met Dan Reed as part of a committee we're both on for the National Archives and the future of electronic records. Dan is amazing as bringing the conversation to a 'consensus' of either mutual agreement or disagreement but, most importantly, ensuring that the conversation moves forward instead of getting stuck in circles. It's amazing to watch the non-science aspects of his personality within the group dynamic. And it's definitely an approach I can learn from and I'm sure it's part of what propelled him to North Carolina to work for the larger good.

I've been at the farm this weekend and my most proud accomplishment is getting the generator working again without having to call expensive repair people from over 100 miles away. I had lost track of the time I had checked on it at the actual generator and discovered the oil was once again low - I can't imagine how that happened given that I know I haven't checked it in a year. After attempting to decipher the operation manual among the maze of electrical diagrams and multiple, multiple warnings of electric and shock hazards leading to death, I went outside and checked the oil. Then, I found the switch that allowed it to be off, on, or auto. If I want it to kick on when the electricity coming to the house ceases, I guessed right (after re-consultation with the manual) that auto was the correct setting. And, then, on the inside switch that also sets the time it self-tests each week and runs for 20 minutes so it's ready, willing, and able when it's actually needed (most likely in below-freezing temperatures accompanied by howling winds), I worked with the diagrams and re-re-consulted the manual how to set it to auto-test each week and hopefully on Sundays late in the mornings. One of the early challenges upon completing the farm house in 2002 was a generator that went off at 3am on Thursdays. Given that I am a light sleeper, that meant that I was up for the day. If only I had realized how easy it was to re-set.

I've also had time to reflect on the loss of one opportunity last week and a new opportunity the week earlier. While it took awhile for the earlier opportunity to sink in, I am now at peace with no longer having the latter opportunity. I'm pretty stubborn and sometimes have to be knocked around a bit before I head in the right direction. But I have faith I am getting closer to the right destination - or sho I say the right next destination, since I have now figured out the cycles and processes of life are not usually endpoints even when my Type A personality strives (and wishes) to find them and accomplish them. As my brother has stated several times, telling me I can't do something is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. I just need to decide which red flags to challenge and which to ignore or, if not possible to ignore, to manage as a normal part of life.

I have some more grant reports to write and the ever-present grading to do next week along with a trip to Topeka to become a foundation board member.

Another decision made this weekend was to enjoy the great fall weather and working outside. Breaking limbs into sticks and watching them burn in the chiminea is great therapy. My eyes are still causing problems but I'm not going to lose the fall to them - esp. when the doctor mentioned that it may not disappear until we have a hard freeze and it may be something that just corrects itself with time if it's not allergy related.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, October 26, 2007

TGIF! . . . and TAH

As I work more to have actual weekends (note the verb) where I can choose what I want to do without feeling overwhelmed by pending/looming deadlines, I'm going to start celebrating Fridays more - a way to compartmentalize my life a bit s that work doesn't control everything else.

The TAH Project Directors conference was the best they ever had along with extensive collaboration time with colleagues both in the hotel and in the Quarter. They separated out the first year grantees which was a great thing for those of us who have had several grants. Meetings that offer engaging content are worth it - those that are introductions to the experienced just frustate everyone involved. Carol Berkin's talk on colonial female spies and Lee Ann Potter's "mystery" were some of the highlights - history and teaching history are great combinations.

Now we're all busy writing up our annual and/or final reports that are due next week. And that's on top of writing our TAH 2008 proposals!

I'm also excited about being asked to join the TWG (Technical Working Group) for the TAH Clearinghouse Project proposed by George Mason University/Stanford University/AHA, among others. This should be another engaging experience and I'm anxious to see more of the inner workings of CHNM. My friend Paula that is there has given me some clues but being involved in the development of a project with such great personnel and resources available to it will be such a fun and engaging experience. The anticipated launch date is February 1, 2008. Thomas Thurston (also of H-TAH with me) and I had a nice chat with Kelly Schrum (someone else who spells their first name correctly ;-) ) in New Orleans about how the existing community can work to enhance the work of this community that will have the technology and manpower to do what we have only dreamed of doing.


Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Students and Professors


Labels: ,

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Meeting in New Orleans

We made it safely to the TAH Project Directors Meeting in New Orleans - it's great seeing colleagues from all over the country!

Labels: , ,

Monday, October 15, 2007

The No *Jerk* Rule

Good managers already know this. Tenure makes it even more difficult, however. From Cliopatria:

The No Asshole Rule

Abridged and Cross-posted from Blog Them Out of the Stone Age

Over vacation I read a book I bought earlier this year: The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't, by Robert I. Sutton. I'd picked it up strictly on the basis of the eye-catching title, the fact that the author was an apparently well respected professor of management science at Stanford University, and a couple of paragraphs from the introduction:

I first heard of "the no asshole" rule more than fifteen years ago, during a faculty meeting at Stanford University. Our small department was a remarkably supportive and collegial place to work, especially compared to the petty but relentless nastiness that pervades much of academic life. On that particular day, our chairman Warren Hausman was leading a discussion about who we ought to hire as a new faculty member.

One of my colleagues proposed that we hire a renowned researcher from another school, which provoked another to say, "Listen, I don't care if that guy won the Nobel Prize. . . . I just don't want any assholes ruining our group." We all had a good laugh, but then we started talking in earnest about how to keep demeaning and arrogant jerks out of the group. From that moment on, when discussing whether to hire faculty, it was legitimate for any of us to question the decision by asking, "The candidate seems smart, but would this hire violate our no asshole rule?" And it made the department a better place.

I found this passage arresting because it spoke to my own profession, academe. The book as a whole, however, focuses on the business world -- a world in which, to be sure, I was immersed full time for several years between my undergraduate and graduate studies, to say nothing of many part-time jobs during high school and college.

Sutton's basic thesis is that the presence in a given organization of even a few assholes can poison its culture and easily cost the organization several hundred thousand dollars a year: because of employees who get fed up with the asshole and quit, thereby obliging the organization to pay the cost of hiring and training replacements; reduced productivity on the part of employees who remain; the cost of the extra time managers must devote to supervising the asshole, doing damage control, etc.; the cost of dealing with sexual discrimination and harassment complaints; and the cost incurred when assholes damage the culture to the point where employees are no longer willing to "go the extra mile" for the organization -- what Sutton calls "discretionary investment."

The trouble is, most organizations do not really perceive these costs. As Sutton's opening vignette suggests, in academe an asshole is tolerated because she or he is considered a "star" who brings prestige to a given department: the Nobel laureate his department rejected was undoubtedly courted assiduously by many others. In business an asshole is tolerated because she or he generates a lot of revenue. And of course, many assholes of rather ordinary ability are tolerated simply because too many of us are conflict averse and have no idea how to confront an asshole -- particularly since many assholes actually revel in personal conflict.

We know assholes when we see them, but Sutton proposes two useful tests to determine whether someone is acting like an asshole:

Test One: After talking to the alleged asshole, does the "target" feel oppressed, humiliated, de-energized, or belittled by the person? In particular, does the target feel worse about him or herself?

Test Two: Does the alleged asshole aim his or her venom at people who are less powerful rather than at those who are more powerful?

Nobody likes an asshole. But as Sutton's book documents, too many business organizations lack effective policies for dealing with assholes. (The challenge is especially difficult in academic organizations, where assholes are, for the most part, bomb proof because of the lifetime job security that is tenure.) Yet solutions to the workplace asshole problem do exist. It's a matter of whether an organization is willing to face th
e problem and take determined steps to address it.

For more on the No Asshole Rule, see this brief article.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Saturday morning

Finally made it back to the farm yesterday and the landscaping progress looks good. This is the 4th and hopefully last time. And we have some of the drainage issues figured out which should mean I'll have to bring no more dirt to the farm. But it is good dirt and better than the clay we would have gotten from the field.

Some friends of my brother are coming over to hunt today and luckily the rain forecast didn't come to fruition. I'm going to bake an apple pie this morning (think breakfast!) and get another presentation ready and then go outside and tackle the heavy-duty growth along the driveway with the serious blade weedeater attachment.

This is the first fall tv season in many, many years that has several shows that appear to be worth watching instead of just one or two filtered premieres throughout the year. Thank goodness for digital video recorders that allow skipping commercials and starting to watch the show ten minutes after it's start instead of the old VHS waiting for the recording to finish.

Steak at Fireside should be on the agenda tonight. Now if I just had Samantha's powers to clean the house. I grew up with Samantha's magical powers and was about the age of her character's daughter. Ah, 60s television . ..

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, October 12, 2007

Roy Rosenzweig

We'll miss him. He's one of the reasons that history integrated with technology is taken seriously.

Here's his section from the GMU website:

Roy Rosenzweig
Mark and Barbara Fried Professor of History & New Media

Roy Rosenzweig is Mark and Barbara Fried Professor of History & New Media at George Mason University, where he also heads the Center for History and New Media (CHNM). He is the co-author, with Elizabeth Blackmar, of The Park and the People: A History of Central Park, which won several awards including the 1993 Historic Preservation Book Award and the 1993 Urban History Association Prize for Best Book on North American Urban History. He also co-authored (with David Thelen) The Presence of the Past: Popular Uses of History in American Life, which has won prizes from the Center for Historic Preservation and the American Association for State and Local History. He was co-author of the CD-ROM, Who Built America?, which won James Harvey Robinson Prize of American Historical Association for its “outstanding contribution to the teaching and learning of history.” His other books include Eight Hours for What We Will: Workers and Leisure in an Industrial City, 1870-1920 (Cambridge University Press) and edited volumes on history museums (History Museums in the United States: A Critical Assessment), history and the public (Presenting the Past: Essays on History and the Public), history teaching (Experiments in History Teaching), oral history (Government and the Arts in 1930s America), and recent history (A Companion to Post- 1945 America). He has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and has lectured in Australia as a Fulbright Professor. He recently served as as Vice-President for Research of the American Historical Association. In 2007, the
Organization of American Historians gave him its Distinguished Service Award for “an individual whose contributions have enriched our understanding and appreciation of American history.”

As founder and director of CHNM, he is involved in a number of different digital history projects including History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web as well as projects on the French Revolution (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Exploring the French Revolution), the history of science and technology (ECHO: Exploring and Collecting History Online), world history (World History Matters), and the September 11 Digital Archive. His work in digital history was recognized in 2003 with the Richard W. Lyman Award (awarded by the National Humanities Center and the Rockefeller Foundation) for “outstanding achievement in the use of information technology to advance scholarship and teaching in the humanities.”

Labels: , ,

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Shrinking Historian?

Here's my reply to a discussion over at Edwired by Dan Cohen.

Ditto to many of Sage comments in support of your analysis. We’re often missing the broad strokes and then wonder why our own students cannot put history into its broader context. I think one of the SUNY schools has developed a “broad-field” doctoral program that teaches future historians how to not over-specialize so that no one else understands you except for a few, select fellow specialists in your particular field.

There are so many topics and connects to explore in history and wiping away the broad themes as being only in support of the dead, white males is just ridiculous.

Carol Berkin at Baruch is one of the “traditionally” trained historians who "broke out" to write for popular audiences and has been criticized for same. Yet, thousands of people will know more about women in the American Revolution thanks largely to her book, Revolutionary Mothers. It’s a manageable work for those people who don’t get paid to read for a living and tells some great stories. Who could ask for more from anything they read?

Despite some of its challenges dealing with where to go next in technology, H-Net is one of the best examples of organizations who allow a broader membership within its larger context. While some individual communities believe gatekeeping is important to what they are doing, others explore areas traditionally ignored by the “authorities” in the profession. H-Net used to meet in conjunction with the AHA and this year is moving it’s more official meeting space to the Social Science History Association - a community that is more interested in technology and is more diverse in its active membership.

Blogs like yours, H-Net, and other social networking approaches in person and online make our profession much more rich and diverse.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, October 08, 2007

Few Conservatives but Many Centrists Found in American Academe -

Few Conservatives but Many Centrists Found in American Academe -

Conservatives are a small minority within the American professoriate, according to a major study whose results were released on Saturday. The study -- which is arguably the best-designed survey of American faculty beliefs since the early 1970s -- found that only 9.2 percent of college instructors are conservatives, and that only 20.4 percent voted for George W. Bush in 2004.

The article provides some unique context. It doesn't, however, deal with the perceived pressure to "join the intelligent" who often don't seem to value diversity - in political opinions, at least.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Assessment from the Ground Up

Thanks to Jonathon Dresner for pointing to this article during his commentary on the Cliopatria blog.

ncouraging Assessment From the Ground Up

By Donna Engelmann

In this space last month, I wrote about how assessment from the ground up means that accountability for colleges and universities ought to flow from the improvement of student learning and not the other way around. In the responses to that article, and in the work that my colleagues at Alverno College have done with other institutions over the last three decades, a compelling question arises: How can we encourage one another as faculty to engage in assessment that will work for our students and for us, and not just be a bureaucratic chore?

Under pressure from accreditors and others, just about every college and university has declared that it has some form of measuring learning. But we also know that assessment data are gathering dust in file cabinets around the country, and that learning outcomes have gone into syllabi and quietly died. But when this has not been the case, when faculty have embraced assessment as central to their teaching, what has made the difference? How and why have faculty tied learning activities and assessment to course outcomes so that students themselves see achieving the outcomes as essential to success in a course or program?

My Alverno colleagues have conducted workshops on the improvement of teaching and assessing at colleges and universities in every state in the union and around the globe. And we have hosted a summer teaching and assessment workshop at the college for over 30 years. Our goal has been to share how assessing students’ performance has improved learning, and has provided us with evidence to document progress in individual student learning and the effectiveness of the curriculum as a whole.

Read more here.

Labels: ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]