Academia

Category archives for Academia

Music Writing and Science Writing

No, this isn’t another blog post lamenting the fact that music writing gets far more attention than science writing. If anything, it’s a bit of an argument that science writing ought to be less like popular music writing. On Twitter this past weekend Jim Henley, one of the few bloggers I consider “old school” (the…

On Exclusivity

Yesterday’s frat boy post prompted some interesting discussion, one piece of which is a response from Matt “Dean Dad” Reed (also at Inside Higher Ed), who overlapped with me at Williams for a year, but had a very different reaction to the social scene there. His take mirrors mine from the other side, though, which…

I was invited to a dinner last night hosted by one of the umbrella organizations for fraternities on campus, with a stated goal of improving communication between faculty and frats. It ended up being kind of a weird crowd– most of the non-students there were Deans of one sort or another; I think there was…

I’ve lost track of who on social media pointed me to this, but this blog post about testimony to the Michigan Legislature is a brilliant demonstration of what’s so difficult about teaching even simple subjects. Deborah Ball, the Dean of the education school at the University of Michigan gives the legislators a simple grading exercise…

It’s the time of year where colleges and grad schools are making admissions decisions, and faculty job search season is winding down (for tenure-track positions in physics, anyway– our search for a visiting professor for next year is still underway). In the spirit of the season, then, Matt “Dean Dad” Reed asks about the writing…

One of the endlessly recurring topics around here is the use of PowerPoint and comparable presentation software. Usually because of some ill-informed rant against the use of PowerPoint. It’s come around yet again in a particularly ironic fashion, via an online slideshow at Slate, the only medium more consistently exasperating than a bad PowerPoint presentation.…

Given the academic circles I run in, it’s not surprising that one of the most repeated stories crossing my social media feeds yesterday had to do with the changes to the SAT. Starting in 2015, the essay section will no longer be mandatory, and they’re going to reconfigure the reading and math sections to emphasize…

Friday Miscellany

I got book edits this week, gave an exam on Thursday, and pre-registration for our spring term classes is just beginning, so I have a parade of students begging to get into this course or that one to deal with. So I have no more time for detailed blogging, but will do a bit of…

Against “Gen Eds”

Matt Reed, who will forever be “Dean Dad” to me, has a post on “new” topics that might be considered for “gen ed” requirements, that is, the core courses that all students are required to take. This spins off a question Rebecca Townsend asked (no link in original), “Should public speaking be a general education…

On Irony and Ivory Towers

The outrage of the moment in academic circles is this Nick Kristof column on how academics need to be more engaged with a broader public. And it’s really impressive how he manages to take an idea that I basically agree with– I regularly give talks on the need for scientists to do more outreach via…