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I am posting this as a benchmark, not because I think I'm playing very well yet.  The idea would be post a video every month for a ye...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Another Annoying CHE Post

In this post a professor of education tries to demonstrate that "students today" cannot listen any more. You would think that a professor of education would know that, when a pedagogical exercise fails, the fault is not going to be (exclusively) with the students.

I am sympathetic to the aim of the exercise. The professor first sets up a dichotomy between her white, middle-class, mostly female students and her panel of parents, chosen carefully for their diversity: Lesbian, Jewish, Latina, etc... (All the parents on the panel are women.) I do sympathize with the professor whose experience has taught her that her own students are racist, and condescending to parents in their own community. I cannot question her characterization, though it does seem a bit overgeneralized.

The professor seems to know that just being lectured to is not ideal pedagogy. She herself never lectures (we learn from her own comment to her own post). Somehow she thinks her students should just sit there and absorb information without fidgeting, during an hour and a half in the evening when they might have been in class all day.

She herself does not seem to have the capability of listening. For example, she doesn't ask her students about what worked or didn't in this exercise. She interprets their discomfort in very self-serving terms.


Here is an interesting exercise in dissimulation. Christian Smith argues that Mark Regnerus, author of right-wing funded article against gay parenting, is the victim of a witch-hunt. Of course, Smith was MR's professor!:

Regnerus was trained in one of the best graduate programs in the country and was a postdoctoral fellow under an internationally renowned scholar of family, Glen Elder, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Full disclosure: I was on the faculty in Regnerus's department and advised him for some years, but was not his dissertation chair.)

Actually, Smith lists Regnerus as his dissertation advisee on his own cv, so this is not full disclosure at all. He has also co-authored several articles with his former student, articles which he lists on this same cv.

Look, you have to mount a substantive defense of a piece of scholarship under attack. You can't just say "it's not quite as bad as people say" or "the author is a good friend of mine." You can't throw up langauge like "internationally renowned scholar of family." What you really can't do is to lie overtly about your connection to the person you are defending.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Other Blog

Noticed that Bemsha Swing was dropping in readership as I neglected it, so for a few days I'm going to post only over there, mostly some original poetry, until the numbers even out. Then I will go back to posting on SMT and neglecting BS again.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

30 days

I've heard the idea of trying to do something for 30 days. It could be exercising, or eating fruit, or meditating. What I've decided to do is, for the next 30 days, work every day on getting my stuff better organized. By stuff here I mean pieces of paper, books, pens, clothing, computer cables. Everything that I have in my physical possession. This is obviously a major weakness of mine. I have books in the car that shouldn't be there. I have piles of papers that I don't know what to do with. So for the next thirty days, starting today, I will work a bit every day on going through those papers, throwing things away I don't need. Eventually, this effort will have positive benefits for my scholarly work as well.

You might want to try this with whatever your main weakness is. Maybe every piece of paper is in place for you, but you have some other problem to work on. Maybe it's time management, or money-spending. After 30 days, see if you've effected a permanent change for the better.

Independence Day

I want to be independent, not only of negative people in my life, but also of the fear that others will regard my work as less relevant to my field. It is somewhat ironical that I feel marginal within my own field, given that I am so successful within it. I shouldn't even worry that I am bucking the trend: that is what gives my work its distinctive identity. Nobody else does what I do within US Hispanism.

Briefly, the main tendency is toward an ideological positioning of Spanish identity. The hot topics are things like nationalism, identity, historical memory, and immigration. The main evidence is drawn from novels, films, and popular songs. My approach, obviously, is oriented toward poetry and poetics. I also deal with forms of Spanish cultural identity, but I take the position that modernist literary principles remain valuable. Hence I don't tend to deal with culture as a kind of symptom or source of data about political issues, but as the most valuable thing that human-kind has ever created.