Sunday Reading

Found this stuff cleaning out some drawers…

~Remediation Research and Practices

~On Sports and Sex Identification

~The Joy of Being the Dumbest Person in the Room

~A Review of a New Book about Montaigne (who seems to be getting a lot of attention lately…an interesting trend. )

~On the Role of a Philosophy Department at a University

~On Pell Grant Cuts

~Research on Plagiarism (and the growing use of Social sites as sources, i.e., they’re not even copying out of books anymore)

~Wishing for Better Admission Tests (The MCAT Issue)

One thought on “Sunday Reading

  1. Hi, PhiloDave et al.

    Before I disappear into the spring wilds where “worlds tip / into the sunshine,” I thought I’d respond a bit to this Sunday’s reading.

    First, here’s a link to “Conditions Imposed on Part-Time Adjuncts Threaten Quality of Teaching, Researchers Say.” Later this year a study will be published in American Behavioral Scientist that documents how low pay and teaching at multiple colleges undermines the ability of part-time adjuncts to teach as effectively as possible. (Re: “Is Adjunct Pay an Issue at HW?” on 4/11/11.)


    “This week I saw a webinar by Complete College America that made many of the same points, but that suggested a “co-requisite” strategy for developmental. In other words, it suggested having students take developmental English alongside English 101, and using the developmental class to address issues in 101 as they arise. It would require reconceiving the developmental classes as something closer to self-paced troubleshooting, but that may not be a bad thing. At least that way students will perceive a need for the material as they encounter it. It’s much easier to get student buy-in when the problem to solve is immediate. In a sense, it’s a variation on the ‘immersion’ approach to learning a language. You don’t learn a language by studying it in small chunks for a few hours a week. You learn a language by swimming in it. If the students need to learn math, let them swim in it; when they have what they need, let them get out of the pool.

    It may be that the issue isn’t that we’re doing developmental wrong; the issue is that we’re doing it at all.”

    ME, AVRAMAKIS: Collapsing the sequence of developmental courses still means having to add a “self-paced troubleshooting” course onto ENGL 101 courses. The author suggests that content itself makes “skills” (i.e. what developmental courses emphasize) meaningful. Few argue for instruction for grammar and punctuation apart from writing and reading, yet (the author implies) developmental courses operate on the assumption that writing and reading (skills) are taught apart from (higher) content.


    “…The point is that people will tend to do better if, as part of their education, they’ve studied some philosophy. (This is one of the reasons why undergraduate philosophy majors have the highest average scores on the standard tests used for admission to post-graduate study.)”

    ME, AVRAMAKIS: The fruit is in the comments and an exchange between two students. Here’s a taste:

    MT says:
    April 8, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    “I am a philosophy student attending graduate school in the fall with the intent of studying empirically-informed philosophy of mind. I disagree with your assessment of philosophy of mind as a whole despite the fact that I ultimately agree that philosophy of mind should take into account current neuroscience.

    The reason that property and substance dualism persist in philosophy of mind is not merely that they engage in “ear-plugging” when anyone so much as mentions neuroscience, but rather those inclined toward dualism disagree that anything physical can account for the mental (e.g., consciousness, qualia (the “what-it’s-like”)). They don’t refuse to listen to neuroscience, and indeed, they may find neuroscience to be a very worthy endeavor. Instead, they think that neuroscience can never give us a *full* account of our mental life. This can be illustrated by Jackson’s Mary argument. Suppose that a neuroscientist named Mary, who happens to have grown up in a black and white room seeing only black and white, can learn everything physical there is to know about the color red. However, when Mary first steps outside the room and sees a red rose, she will think something like “Ah! So that is what red looks like.” Dualists believe she learns something new when she first sees the color red, namely “what-it’s-like-to-see-red.” Dennett would reject that she learns anything new because he denies qualia. He agrees that neuroscience can give us a full account of mental life. It is a matter of disagreement, not “ear-plugging.”


    “One of the greatest gifts of aging is that you can let go of the idea that you have to know everything, that you always have to be the smartest kid in the class—or, at least, let go of the notion that you should try to convince others that you are. At a certain point, you’re no longer threatened by your inadequacies, but grateful to find people who can shore them up.

    …In middle age, I find it thrilling to be overwhelmed by someone else’s brilliance. It makes me want to work harder, to be better. It sends me back to that desperate time of seeking to prove myself worthy—though now without (as much of) the accompanying self-hatred. And it makes me more generous.”

    ME, AVRAMAKIS: I was never this competitive but I appreciate this academic’s recourse to the adage that “You’ll know when you get older.”

    And now I’m in the spring wilds “fat / with the baby happy land.”

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