CultureRequired Readings

Tenure and motherhood, student evaluations, and cultural connections: Required Readings, 5.6.14

In the U.S., the first week of May is Teacher Appreciation Week. Have a good story about students showing their appreciation, for better or for worse? Share it in the comments.

Someone who didn’t feel particularly appreciated at the University of Pennsylvania was former faculty member Kristen Stromberg Childers, who has filed “an unusual lawsuit that alleges the university discriminated against her because of her gender and child care responsibilities” in denying her tenure.

Student evaluations of teachers may be useful in showing appreciation, but most of the time they’re likely useless, according to one writer. They may also be a barometer of the short shrift many universities give to undergraduate education and pedagogy in general. What do you think?

Moving on to our usual roundup of crazy, a school in Colorado that allowed members of a cultural club to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic has attracted some negative attention, to put it lightly. Apparently those ranting against this breach of decency missed the face that foreign language classes and student organizations have been memorizing the Pledge in other tongues for decades.

Speaking of cross-cultural efforts, a program called Classroom Connections brings together students from two Bronx schools: a public high school in the poorest Congressional district in the U.S. and a $43K-a-year private school. Along similar lines, Preparing Future Professors takes Stanford PhD students to nearby San Jose State University to show them how a faculty job is experienced on a campus that is far different from their own.

Required Readings are a list of links that you might find interesting! Look for them to appear every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday morning.Have some links you’d like to share? Submit them on our contact form!

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Librarienne is a university librarian who sees her professional mission as teaching the masses how to separate the wheat from the chaff in today's expanding universe of information, that everything you read requires a critical eye, and how to properly use apostrophes.

1 Comment

  1. May 6, 2014 at 11:59 am —

    Schuman’s article on evals is very, very true in a lot of respects. Particularly that despite all their inherent problems, they have an outsize influence on hiring and retaining non-tenure track positions. Two things I disagree with, though. First, evals are very useful when starting your teaching career. In my first years, they did point out several problems that I could and did fix. A couple of decades in – not so useful. I get suggestions that I either won’t do (write easier tests) or can’t (have better comedic timing for telling a joke). But second, it is not irrelevant to be judged on ‘performance’. It doesn’t help to give the best content-wise class if no one can stay awake to hear it. The skill to be engaging is really something that is very rarely addressed or taught in grad school.

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