Required Readings

Sinister lefties, distracting Mohawks, college expense, ended strikes, cancelled clinics, and more: Required Readings, 09.20.15

Welcome to a slightly tardy edition of Required Readings. The dog didn’t eat my homework, but the computer did.

An Oklahoma pre-K teacher, after allegedly making a 4-year-old leftie switch to using his right hand, sent an article home to his parents that called left-handedness “unlucky,” “evil,” and “sinister.” I thought teachers had stopped doing this at least 40 years ago. I am suddenly grateful for my teachers who, although they may have looked askance at the way I held a writing implement, never tried to force me to switch hands.

Meanwhile, this week also saw an elementary student in Utah pulled from class because his Mohawk hairstyle, in honor of his Native American roots, was deemed a distraction to other students.

A question on the lips of many students over the past month as fall semester bills became due: Why Is College so Expensive if Professors Are Paid so Little?

A study commissioned by the Association of American Universities reports that 27% of female college seniors responding said that, since entering college, they had experienced some kind of unwanted sexual contact.

Leaders of the Seattle teachers union voted last week to end a 5-day strike focused on pay, testing, and length of the school day. In Chicago, protesters ended a 34-day hunger strike over the closing of a neighborhood high school.

Academic chatter this week surrounded Cornell University’s open-ended advertisement for “a tenure-track assistant professor in some area of the humanities or qualitative social sciences.”

Medical and nursing students at the University of Missouri will no longer be able to complete clinical rotations at Planned Parenthood clinics after the university cancelled contracts with the organization, ending a 26-year relationship.

Although the past academic year was the first time in history that racial and ethnic minority students outnumbered their white counterparts, the number of teachers of color decreased form 2002 to 2012. Perhaps improving teacher working conditions will help turn around the trend.

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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. September 22, 2015 at 12:32 pm —

    Actually, the hatred of left-handedness is still alive and well in many non-WASP cultures. The lefties in my family are still told to not do things with “Shaitan (Satan)’s hand”. We were told growing up that if you ate and drank with your left hand, all the nourishment would go to Satan rather than us.

    • October 1, 2015 at 1:26 pm —

      And in Tanzania, albinos are magical. So of course albinos are killed for their body parts to cure various ailments. But what’s the harm in alternative medicine?

      Left-handedness, twinning, albinism. Things most of us wouldn’t even think of as ‘evil’ today were once deep in the Uncanny Valley. (And of course, Hollywood used to use all three as ‘evil’ tropes. For instance, Rotwang has a hook for a right hand.)

  2. September 22, 2015 at 2:43 pm —

    Meanwhile, this week also saw an elementary student in Utah pulled from class because his Mohawk hairstyle, in honor of his Native American roots, was deemed a distraction to other students.

    It strikes me as ironic that trigger warnings, which help people who suffer from traumatic experiences, are framed as “coddling students” but “regular” students can somehow not be expected to cope with hairstyles from other cultures and miniskirts…

    • September 22, 2015 at 11:13 pm —

      Ha! Yes, one of the great mysteries.

    • October 1, 2015 at 1:33 pm —

      It’s Utah. Mormons have a very long history with Indians. Look up Mountain Meadows.

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