• Blog
  • Arrivederci Professor Forni

    There was an obituary in The Wall Street Journal for one Professor Pier Massimo Forni, “a poet and scholar of Italian literature.” I found this guy to be an interesting choice for coverage in a newspaper focused on business. Usually the obituaries in the WSJ are about people who influenced the economy. So how did […]

  • Teaching
  • Apologies to David Brooks: Students Learn From People Who Love Them

    My social feeds are circulating a David Brooks column: “Students Learn From People They Love.” The piece cites research from cognitive scientists about how integrated emotions are with learning. The many comments on the NYTimes site wonder whether Brooks would have more accurately said “respect” rather than “love.” Probably, yes, but my read is that […]

  • Books
  • Life Among the Savages

    In her memoir of young family life, Life Among the Savages, Shirley Jackson tells the story of the outsize influence of a child’s first grade teacher. We get a delicious profile of her daughter Jannie’s Mrs. Skinner: We had been exposed to Mrs. Skinner from about the third day of school, when Jannie came home […]

  • Teaching
  • Mommy, Is Manny a Boy or a Girl?

    My sister’s family went to a Red Sox game. This was many years ago when my niece was in the single digits, maybe 8 years old. The players were announced. Manny Ramirez. For some reason, he caught my niece’s attention, and she wanted to know: “Mommy, is Manny a boy or a girl?” This isn’t […]

  • Teaching
  • Roles and Purposes of Higher Education

    This year my school worked with the Policy Center on the First Year of College, now known as the Gardner Institute. Campus leadership used Gardner’s guidance to scrutinize our first year students’ experience. Gardner recommends organizing the work around nine committees, one committee for each of the “dimensions” they have identified. One of the dimensions […]

  • Teaching
  • Student Evaluations of Teaching (SET)

    One of the instructors in my department came by to see me. She was concerned about her spring semester teaching evaluations from her students (SET, which we call FCQs, for faculty course questionnaires). Now that she had seen the reports, she renewed a concern she had expressed about the chaos of the transition to online […]