by Nathan Schiller on September 30, 2014 in Must Reads with No Comments »
The most-read article in the history of the magazine The New Republic is “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League.” Published in July as an excerpt from author William Deresiewicz’s book Excellent Sheep, it started a national conversation about higher education, and one of the most interesting responses, published in the same magazine, is titled “The Trouble With Harvard.” Both offer provocative thoughts on education, classes, standardized testing, and the point of college.
by Yasmine Alwan on August 15, 2014 in Must Reads with No Comments »
In New York Times article, “Taking Fares, and Writing in Between,” Rohter (2014) shows how Syrian poet-in-exile Osama Alomar does just that from the driver’s seat of his cab in Chicago. A pile of dictionaries ride along with him in the front seat, and a notebook at the ready. Writer Lydia Davis calls his work “very imaginative and vivid and exhilarating,” and I find his grit and dedication also an exhilarating reminder of what little moments can add up to.
by Nathan Schiller on July 21, 2014 in Must Reads with No Comments »
In this article — which may be of specific interest to students in MCNY’s M.S. Ed. program — David Perrin, a high school English teacher in Illinois, imagines what Mark Twain, one of our country’s most important satirists, would have thought about the U.S.’s trend of standardized testing. Referencing a range of people from Louie C.K. to Glenn Beck to Helen Keller, the article also links to two of Twain’s original texts: a parody of a Brooklyn teacher’s misinformed students and an essay skewering public schools for rote teaching methods.
by Polly Bresnick on July 15, 2014 in Must Reads with No Comments »
In this thoughtful and funny interview, award-winning Dominican-American writer Junot Diaz discusses his own writing process, the importance of revising and rewriting, his whole-hearted support of young writers of color, and his predictions about the zombie apocalypse.
by Yasmine Alwan on July 10, 2014 in Must Reads with No Comments »
“I write in order to peruse myself” – Henri Michaux
“Writing can be an artificial arena where we mash the world into a shape we can stand to look at.” –Tim Kreider
From Approaches to What?
…In our haste to measure the historic, significant and revelatory, let’s not leave aside the essential: the truly intolerable, the truly inadmissible. What is scandalous isn’t the pit explosion, it’s working in coalmines. ‘Social problems’ aren’t ‘a matter of concern’ when there’s a strike, they are intolerable twenty-four hours out of twenty-four, three hundred and sixty-five days a year.
Tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, tower-blocks that collapse, forest fires, tunnels that cave in, the Drugstore des Champs-Elysees burns down. Awful! Terrible! Monstrous! Scandalous! But where’s the scandal? The true scandal? Has the newspaper told us anything except: not to worry, as you can see life exists, with its ups and its downs, things happen, as you can see.
The daily papers talk of everything except the daily. The papers annoy me, they teach me nothing. What they recount doesn’t concern me, doesn’t ask me questions and doesn’t answer the questions I ask or would like to ask.
What’s really goind on, what we’re experiencing, the rest, all the rest, where is it? How should we take account of, question, describe what happens every day and recus every day: the banal, the quotidian, the obvious, the common, the ordinary, the infraoridnary, the background noise, the habitual?
To question the habitual. But that’s just it, we habituated to it. We don’t question, it it doesn’t question us, it doesn’t seem to pose a probme, we live it without thinking, as if it carried within it neither questions nor answers, as if weren’t the bearer of any information…What we need to question is bricks, concrete, glass, our table manners, our utensils, our tools, the way we spend our time, our rhythms. To question that which seems to have ceased forever to astonish us…
Describe your street. Describe another street. Compare.
Make an inventory of your pockets, of your bag. Ask yourself about the provenance, the use, what will become of each of the objects you take out…
-Georges Perec from Species of Spaces and Other Pieces published by Penguin Books, 1999
by Nathan Schiller on June 6, 2014 in Must Reads with No Comments »
Did you ever wonder what will happen if (/when) no one writes by hand anymore? As explained in this article, psychologists and neuroscientists have found new evidence that suggests deep links between handwriting and broader educational development.
by Nathan Schiller on May 21, 2014 in Must Reads with No Comments »
In 2010, at the urging of then-Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and with the support of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged $100 million to reform schools in Newark, where public education is as bad as anywhere in the country. Last week, The New Yorker published a long and fascinating article examining how that money has been spent, and whether or not the problem has been solved. (Hint: Not quite.)
by Yasmine Alwan on April 8, 2014 in Must Reads with No Comments »
This NYT article, “Students See Many Slights as Racial ‘Microagressions’,” explores a trend in discussions at US colleges about racism. Social workers have been talking about microagressions for years and anyone who has experienced racism already knows exactly what a microagression is: a communication that occurs on the subtle level of gesture, tone, or implication. Students have begun pointing to this micro-level of action rather than overt and direct demeaning statements, opening up conversations about what constitutes racism. Of course, this has stoked some controversy, as this article seems eager to note. Strikes me that the author has some doubt and to be fair, determining someone else’s “true intention” can be a tricky affair. But to deny the existence of this form of aggression strikes this reader as possibly more dangerous.
by Polly Bresnick on February 27, 2014 in Must Reads with No Comments »
This short, light-hearted article, “The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do,” offers some real and humorous tips for how to produce your best writing. Topics covered include: dealing with writers block and procrastination, using punctuation confidently, and being patient with yourself. The article is a great reminder that writing can be hard, but that the first step to good writing (especially in the early stages of free-writing and drafting) is to laugh and not take ourselves too seriously.