Thursday, February 15, 2018

Friday Fragments

One of the tougher parts of parenthood is seeing your own kids whenever you see footage of something awful.  I was too shattered to write Wednesday night after having seen clips from Parkland.  Those kids are my son’s age.  There but for the grace of God.

On Thursday The Boy reported that the teachers at his school seemed much more upset than the kids.  I told him that made sense to me.  The kids are confident that nothing bad could possibly happen.  The adults know that it can, and are old enough to remember when it almost never did.  Now, mass killings happen several times a week.  The kids take that as normal.  The adults still don’t, and I hope we never do.


From the “finally, some useful research!” files: a study at a large public university found that students perform better in classes that meet two or three times per week than they do in classes that meet once per week.

Colleges may be at the mercy of all sorts of outside forces, but they do have some control over class schedules.  

The findings are certainly consistent with what I had found in my own teaching days.  My favorite class ever was an intensive summer class that met four days per week, but I also had good luck with classes that might twice per week.  Once per week sometimes led to a third hour that wasn’t necessarily as productive as it could have been.  Attention spans are finite.  Besides, it’s easier to learn names when you see people more frequently.

I haven’t seen this particular question researched in a community college context, but I’m hopeful that perhaps some wise and worldly readers have...


This week’s piece in IHE about what provosts and deans actually do was fascinating in an anthropological sort of way, but it bore little resemblance to my world.

The key difference is that it was written in the context of major research universities.  
In my world, the typical difference between a vice president and a provost isn’t level.  It’s scope.  A vice president might oversee academic affairs, but a provost might be responsible for academic affairs, student affairs, and non-credit courses.  And there’s nowhere near enough money for “responsibility-centered management,” or the “every tub on its own bottom” structure.  Budgets are more tightly controlled, because, well, they’re tighter.  That may be an accidental blessing -- I’m emphatically unsold on RCM -- but we really don’t have the option.

Still, I enjoyed reading that one definition of a provost is “the chief dignitary of a collegiate or cathedral chapter.”  “Chief Dignitary” isn’t a bad title…


We had a death in the family last week.  My wife’s uncle died, so we went up to North Jersey for the wake and the funeral.

After the internment the family hosted a luncheon at a local restaurant.  The priest who officiated the funeral sat with us, along with my wife’s parents.  TW leaned over and whispered “the priest was Grandma’s prom date.”

I’ve been on this planet nearly half a century, but I’m pretty sure that was the first time I’d ever heard that sentence.  It’s too good not to share.  The priest was Grandma’s prom date.  It sounds like a writing prompt.  Interwebs, have at it...