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December 23, 2007

Speculative Fiction: The Consequences of Transforming Adjunct Teachers into Robots

Image Source=http://www.neatorobotics.com/neato/images/robot_teacher.jpg

Hi Everyone,

It's the end of the year and time to review some speculative fiction...about the future.

This hilarious, yet horrific, short story--sent to me by my dissertation committee director--should have come out at Halloween. Coming out during the Winter holiday season, it sort of reminds me of the fused "Halloween-Christmas" holiday of the far-future as depicted in Matt Groening's sci-fi Futurama episode, "A Tale of Two Santas." The "war" aspect seems to satirize the now archetypal robot-war backstory of either the Matrix series (The Animatrix) the new Battlestar Galactica series, or many other science fiction classics. Now, we have a "teacher" story. Could Michael Moore or Al Gore please make this into a film?

The Chronicle of Higher Education, by the way, is a great resource for those in our field by the way--as much as I read them, I should give them a shout-out once in a while. This dystopia, from the mind of Brigham Young's Kerry Soper, spells out exactly--well, at the furthest extreme--what adjuncts and full professors alike envision for the future of the corporate university. From the 30 Nov. 2007 edition:

Mutiny of the Adjunct Bots

(Excerpt from the secret journal of Prof. Maxwell T. Detritum, now a teaching assistant at the Universal University)

February 18, 2085

The mid-21st century was a dark time in higher edutainment. For those of us lucky few who had achieved hypertenure in the Great GPU (Global Phoenix University), the years leading up to the Adjunct Robot Uprising were magical. Salaries were enormous, teaching duties had finally been eliminated, and one's research could be conveniently outsourced to Internet-based proxies that would analyze random data and then write and publish superior scholarship with only minimal prompts . . .

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This entry posted by lhobbs at 10:56 AM and is filed under English @ Random.

December 16, 2007

Humor - The Post Ph.D. Blues

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Hello Readers,

This week's contribution was sent to the English-Blog by Natalie Dorfeld:

The Post Ph.D. Blues

Sometime around mid-June, I received a large yellow envelope from my alma mater, Indiana University of Pennsylvania. It was my prestigious Doctor of Philosophy diploma. I should have been cutting the rug like Snoopy in the midst of a happy dance, but I wasn’t much in the mood for celebrating. Instead, I buried it under a pile of junk mail and quietly deliberated the age old question: diagonally or horizontally? (I opted to mow the lawn in a diagonal cut.)

To truly comprehend this little known funk in English circles, otherwise known as the post Ph.D. blues, we must start at . . .

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This entry posted by lhobbs at 05:31 PM and is filed under Industry Issues.
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December 08, 2007

Has the Need for Assigning Homework Passed?

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Hello Readers,

A sporadic discussion topic in the education media has concerned itself with whether or not school-aged children really need all the homework they are normally assigned. Is it busy-work or is it necessary to the development of their minds. Critics claim that kids are already in school most of the day...isn't time spent on creative endeavors--i.e. "play"--and other activities that stimulate the imagination equally important? What about physical activity--translate: exercise? With an obesity epidemic in children of the developed world, should there be a more balanced approach to . . .

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This entry posted by lhobbs at 02:35 PM and is filed under .
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December 06, 2007

How a Linguist Sings the Blues

Linguist sings the blues.jpg
Image Source: http://store.perspicuity.com/sections/Products/Linguist.jpg

Thanks to Chris Swanson of Perspicuity.com and Mark Liberman of Language Log! Please visit their sites.

This entry posted by lhobbs at 05:41 PM and is filed under English @ Random.

December 04, 2007

When Teaching English Becomes a Child's Death Sentence

The Teddy Bear incident in Sedan has stirred a lot of attention in the Western media recently and overshadowed this slightly older story from Elyas Wahdat of Reuters News on November 15. Of interest, perhaps, to the overseas English-language teaching community:

Taliban Kill Afghan Boy for Teaching English

KHOST, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Taliban militants shot dead a teenage boy in southeastern Afghanistan for teaching English to his classmates, police said on . . .

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This entry posted by lhobbs at 11:25 PM and is filed under Industry Issues.

December 03, 2007

Need a *Magic* New Teaching Methodology? Introducing *Harry Potter* Pedagogy!

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I was skeptical at first, but it seems that those Harry Potter books may actually have a purpose beyond pop-culture's claim to have begun a renaissance of reading interest in British and North American youngsters. I have previously used the structural framework of the Harry Potter narrative, as an outline at least, to demonstrate Joseph Campbell's Monomyth (the Hero's Journey) model in my literature classes--especially when stacked up against *Star Wars*--with some success. Demonstrating how myth/fantasy can a subtle reflection of reality is one thing (for some students, some real magic is needed!). However, . . .

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This entry posted by lhobbs at 12:59 PM and is filed under English Teaching.
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December 01, 2007

Will Colleges Join the Voluntary System of Accountability?

From Robert Morse's "Morse Code: Inside the College Rankings" in U.S. News & World Report:

Will Colleges Join the Voluntary System of Accountability?

Public colleges have a golden opportunity to make a statement on the importance of releasing their educational data to the public. All they have to do is participate in a plan called the Voluntary System of Accountability, developed by the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, which combined represent 600 public schools that enroll 7.5 million students and award about 70 percent of U.S. bachelor's degrees each year.

The highlight of this plan is . . .

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This entry posted by lhobbs at 01:04 PM and is filed under English @ Random.
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