Why Math Matters

Yesterday I had an interesting discussion with a former student about math. That’s right: math.

The Women’s Studies department I teach in has a sort of open adjunct/student lounge with computers and a small library and a table and such — a place to hang out and get a little work done or chat online or whatever. This student was working on some algebra, and was clearly frustrated. She turns to me and says, “Why do we have to learn this stuff?! When am I ever going to need to know about imaginary numbers?”

Two things you should know about me. First, I started my academic career as an engineering major — aerospace, to be precise. While I quickly bailed out of engineering, I have a great respect for the applied sciences, and the sciences in general. [Continue reading]




Best Practice for Students: Ideas vs. Formatting in Essays

Every semester, I spend a lot of time explaining the term paper assignments to students. I talk about them when I hand out my syllabus, I spend a good half-hour discussing the assignment about 3 weeks into the course, and I revisit the topic several times up until the last week before the due date.

Every time I bring it up, I ask if students have any questions. The questions I get are always about teh same damn thing: formatting. “Does it have to be typed?” “What size margins should I use?” “What style do you want the references in?”

I can only imagine that other professors and/or high school teachers hammer students over formatting, without paying much attention to their ideas — which are, ostensibly, what we assign papers to help students get at and express.

For Sale: Teacher's Buttons

Teacher's ButtonAre you a teacher? I designed these buttons a couple of years ago and have been selling them via CafePress ever since. I’ve never really promoted them, but somehow people found out about them and buy a couple here, a couple there. I think they’re pretty funny. If you’re at all good at what you do, you’ve probably been accused of warping students’ minds a time or two — revel in it!

Affiliate Summit West is Coming to Town

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what direction my career is headed in and whether I’m happy with that. At the moment, I have a kind of split career. In one career, I teach college students about important stuff like race, class, gender, and culture. In the other career, I write for several websites and other outlets, including some commercial writing. Both make me happy while I’m doing them, and both are incredibly rewarding.

School’s Back, and Badder Than Ever!

Break’s over, classes are back in session as of today. This semester I’m doing something a little different — 5 sessions of “Gender, Race, and Class” in Women’s Studies. I’m teaching no anthropology classes at all, for the first time in 4 1/2 years. I’ll still be at the community college, though — 2 of my WMST sections are community college classes. I’m really looking forward to teaching the stuff I’ve been teaching at the university to the students I get at the community college. For one thing, I can virtually guarantee my classes will be a lot more diverse, and likely not a white majority, which should change the dynamic considerably.

Grading is Finished — Bring on Winter Break!

This semester is officially finished for me!

Much in the Works

I’ve been busy as heck this month preparing for the Fall semester (I’m teaching two classes and co-teaching another, all in Women’s Studies), so I haven’t been posting much.  I did manage to make time for a short vacation with my family, and have some great pictures to post here once I get them all off my camera and web-ready.  I’m also working on a guest writing slot at a blog I respect greatly — more news on that as it breaks.  I still need to compile my lifehack.org posts — I fell behind in that and it’s a habit I don’t want to break.  More soon…

Summertime, When the Teaching is Easy…

Well, maybe not “easy”, per se, unless by “easy” you mean “really, really hard”.

This week was the first week of the summer session of my women’s studies class, “Gender, Race, and Class”. While I’ve taught about a half-dozen summer sessions of anthropology at the community college, this is my first summer session at the university and my first in women’s studies. Summer classes are a ton of work — class prep every day, unmotivated students, only a couple weeks between intros and mid-terms, and then again between mid-terms and finals. They tend to be breathless, jus-in-time affairs.