Monday, September 23, 2013

Leveling and Non-Leveling Mechanisms

As is my M.O. on this blog, this post is partly inspired (positive peer pressure) by a recent tweet by Jason Antrosio pointing readers to an older post of his that reflects on the use of Shakespeare in the Bush in teaching lower level anthropology courses. I saw said tweet just after I had finished using another anthro-reader classic, Richard Lee’s “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari” in my 101 section, which worked well as a successful device to talk about important aspects of participant-observation.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hey, that's why I teach too

I just came across a New York Times opinion piece from yesterday's paper in which Notre Dame philosophy professor, Gary Gutting, describes what teaching (and in that case, learning) in college is all about.  Of course, I think you should look at his entire piece, but here's the quick gist.

College education is a proliferation of such possibilities: the beauty of mathematical discovery, the thrill of scientific understanding, the fascination of historical narrative, the mystery of theological speculation. We should judge teaching not by the amount of knowledge it passes on, but by the enduring excitement it generates. Knowledge, when it comes, is a later arrival, flaring up, when the time is right, from the sparks good teachers have implanted in their students’ souls.

For me, it nicely sums up my own perspective on teaching a discipline like anthropology.  While some students may in the future find some specific application of a bit of knowledge or a methodological approach, largely, the specific content of what I teach won't stick with them in ten years (in five, they'll still remember it all, I'm sure). What I want them to "get," is that the world is a complicated, terrible, wonderful and very fascinating place.  And, that they should continue thinking about that world with depth and a critical perspective.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Night Single Parenting

Another post in the continuing theme of "woe is me," but "woe much more to those more unlucky than me."

My spouse is a CRM archaeologist and is currently in the field about four hours from home.  This means that she's hunkered down in a hotel at the moment.  Which puts me at home with our two four years old and the other two.  I'm lucky enough that I'm in between semesters at work, so the workload is a bit diminished.  Nevertheless, coming home to feed, enrich, entertain and ensleep (I'm clumsily going for alliteration here) the two little humans has me beat, and I know I just have to do it again in the morning, and for another two weeks.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Scattered Thinking

I've just crested the hill of grading a set of essays from an online class and need some distraction. Here are some fragments of thoughts occupying my attention on this overcast morning as I wait on the very delayed snow set to hit the Hudson Valley.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Puns and Meaning Making

One of the common interests my father and I shared was an appreciation of puns. To my family’s annoyance, I’ve maintained that interest over the years. Such a set of interests, means that some amount of my thought processes are always taken up by scanning for possible pun opportunities. Like a computer’s security scanner, I’m constantly searching. During class last week, I stumbled on a not particularly clever (are any that clever?) pun while also discussing one of Charles Sanders Peirce’s sign trichotomies. This coincidence provided the opportunity for another quick, high-falutin’ blog post on mundane social interaction and meaning making.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Spring's Looking Up

I've hit another one of those extended lulls in posting, so here's a quick one to get things moving again.

In a bit of a sequel/update to a post from the beginning of Fall 2012, I'm reporting on anthropology enrollment trends from my little corner of the world. In the mentioned post, I lamented that I had to cancel a low-enrolled anthropology course and, in the process, diminish an adjunct faculty's salary. My college, and many others in the region, have been facing declining enrollments--our fall enrollment ended up being down about 8%.