Monthly Archives: October 2016

Why America urgently needs to improve K-12 civic education

Why America urgently needs to improve K-12 civic education

The tone of this presidential election, often called “uncivil,” has led many to call for an urgent improvement of civic education in America. Civic education can teach citizens how to deliberate, even when they have political differences. It can enable citizens to find solutions to many problems such as school attendance, economic development or community […] … learn more→

Here’s what you need to know about ‘failure’ before you start your PhD

Here’s what you need to know about ‘failure’ before you start your PhD

I am sure that there are many lists out there along the lines of “10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a PhD”. But what I really wish someone had told me about before I embarked on my DPhil (PhD) in history was the concept of failure. Last year, I started a blog on the […] … learn more→

Student debt past death!

Student debt past death!

Medieval laws can be funny to read. Both the laws and the penalties for violation are bizarre by modern “civilized” standards. Many laws, of course, were enacted differently for the serfs than for the nobility, with the former typically being punished more severely, for a wider array of violations. The reason for this was simple: […] … learn more→

Science is a key part of a good liberal arts education

Science is a key part of a good liberal arts education

Education in the liberal arts dates from the Greek and Roman times. From the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, logic) and the medieval European quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy), the liberal arts model has always included the sciences, both formal (logic, arithmetic, geometry) and natural (astronomy). All of these were the required basis for the study of […] … learn more→

Good teaching = More debt

Good teaching = More debt

Most folks think that the reason “for profit” schools are more expensive than “public” schools is because the former are trying to make a buck. It seems a good working hypothesis, but “non profit” schools are also (often) wildly more expensive than state schools, and all too often are clearly as motivated by profits as […] … learn more→

How (not) to write: nine more tips for academics in the humanities

How (not) to write: nine more tips for academics in the humanities

After the publication of “How Not to Write”, my number of Twitter followers soared to 195. The internet called me a racist and sexist “mansplainer” vying for a seat in Donald Trump’s cabinet. With the election fast approaching, the moment seemed right for part two – to secure my seat in a Trump White House. […] … learn more→

What is the secret to success?

What is the secret to success?

At hundreds of colleges and universities across the country, thousands of students are in the midst of the fall semester, trying to manage the academic tasks of studying, exams, papers and lectures. A lot is riding on their academic performance – earning (or just keeping) scholarships, landing summer internships, gaining employment and of course acquiring […] … learn more→

Revising for exams - why cramming the night before rarely works

Revising for exams – why cramming the night before rarely works

The date for an important exam is looming. You know you have to study for it. Suddenly, it’s the evening before the dreaded date, and you feel like you haven’t studied enough, if at all. It’s time to cram all the information you can into your brain. We know that to do well in exams, […] … learn more→

The other problem with research social networks

The other problem with research social networks

It’s amazing how the site that was an incredible tool for you during your PhD can turn into a thorn in your side after. While I was still poring over chapters and spending hours with data in the office, academic social networks like Academia.edu and Researchgate were my best friends. There I could download the […] … learn more→

When politics and academia collide, quality suffers. Just ask Nigeria

When politics and academia collide, quality suffers. Just ask Nigeria

South African universities’ academic year lies in limbo as student protests rage on. The debate about free education won’t end any time soon and students are demanding that “fees must fall”. What many don’t seem to realise is that something else is on the verge of toppling: academic standards. It’s just a matter of time […] … learn more→