Categories ▸ Teaching
John “Hannibal” Stokes at Ars Technica has some interesting speculation on what the new technology behind the NSA wiretap abuse scandal might be. Because he knows a lot about computers, he’s also in a position to explain to the likes of Richard Posner one of the (several) things that’s wrong with computer-automated mass surveillance:
Just imagine, for a moment, that 0.1% of all the calls that go through this system score hits.
‘But pray, sir, why must I not teach the young gentlemen?’
‘Because, sir, teaching young gentlemen has a dismal effect upon the soul. It exemplifies the badness of established, artificial authority. The pedagogue has almost absolute authority over his pupils: he often beats them and insensibly loses the sense of respect due to them as fellow human beings. He does them harm, but the harm they do him is far greater.
Picking up on an old item over at 43 Folders (this post has been marinading for a while), here’s a discussion of the applications and tools I use to get work done. I do get work done, sometimes. Honestly.
I’ll give you two lists. The first contains examples of software I find really useful, but which doesn’t directly contribute to the work I’m supposed to be doing. (Some of it actively detracts from it, alas.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden takes a contrarian line on a story about Michael Gunn, an English student who got caught for plagiarism but is now suing because claims he was not informed it was wrong and was shocked—shocked—to be told it was. “I hold my hands up. I did plagiarise. I never dreamt it was a problem” says the guy, “but they have taken all my money for three years and pulled me up the day before I finished.
I teach a course on 19th Century Social Theory [pdf] at the University of Arizona, of the kind often required of Sociology majors around the world. I usually begin with the question “How can there be a city as big as Tucson in the middle of the desert?” and go on to give them a sense of the differences between Europe around 1800 and the society they’re used to. Then we trace the development of the idea of the division of labor in the writings of each of the theorists.
There was a Doonesbury series a few years ago about a student who gets a B in a course, fears this will prevent him from getting into law school and sues his professor for future loss of earnings from a lifetime of corporate law. Well, now the Invisible Adjunct brings us a story that puts this philosophy into practice. Here’s the nub of it, from a Chronicle article:
Coppin State College is poised to let at least eight students in its criminal-justice graduate program receive master’s degrees on Sunday even though they did not pass their comprehensive exams or write final papers considered acceptable by the faculty.
I just got my evaluations back for my classical social theory course. Students got to anonymously rate me on a scale of one to five on questions like “How effective was the Instructor?” and “Did you feel respected in this class” and “How difficult was this course?” and so on. They also got to write in additional comments, which I get returned to me with the average ratings. In general, I find that the students most likely to write something are the ones who either really love or really hate your class.
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