Faced with the prospect of teaching larger classes, I've been thinking about how technology might help me preserve what I value most about small class sizes—and perhaps even bring added value to those large classes. But first some background. There's probably not a humanities program in the country that hasn't received a memo from its… Continue reading Teaching Technologies for Large Classes
Lately I've been wondering how to use Jane McGonigal's Zen Scavenger Hunt idea in my teaching. A Zen Scavenger Hunt is essentially a reversed-engineered scavenger hunt. The hunters go out and find ten or or so items and only afterward do they receive the list of the items they're supposed to be scavenging for. The… Continue reading Zen Scavenger Essay Writing
I've got two fantastic advanced literature classes planned for Fall 2009: ENGL 459 (Disaster Fiction) This class explores what the influential critic and novelist Susan Sontag called "the imagination of disaster." Sontag was speaking of Hollywood cinema of the fifties and sixties, arguing that end-of-the-world films of this era simultaneously aestheticize destruction and address a… Continue reading Fall 2009 Course Descriptions
One of my friends from grad school, Tim Carmody, blogged a nice response to my recent posts on critical thinking and writing, and it got me thinking that I need to clarify one thing: I am not anti-writing. As I wrote in my comment on Tim's blog (and am copying here), I want to emphasize… Continue reading Writing is a Concentrated Form of Thinking
A few days ago I mentioned that as a professor invested in critical thinking -- that is, in difficult thinking -- I have become increasingly disillusioned with the traditional student paper. Just as the only thing a standardized test measures is how well you can take a standardized test, the only thing a student essay… Continue reading What’s Wrong With Writing Essays
I've been a teacher of one sort or another for nearly 15 years, first as a high school teacher and now, after the grueling experience of graduate school, a university professor. Should I admit that most of this time I had no philosophy guiding my teaching? It’s not that I thought that I didn’t need… Continue reading What is Critical Thinking?