Author Archives: unsolicitedtidbits

About unsolicitedtidbits

Philosophy, books, coffee, Mexican food enthusiast.

Make vs Invite

Don’t try to make someone think.

Invite them.

The beauty of ideas are meant to be shared.

Add wine.


Pence Meets Atwood

Mike Pence: How wonderful to meet you at this extremely public place. My wife is approximately two feet to my left.

Margaret Atwood: (politely smiles)

Mike Pence: I’m a fan of your work. Or as the president would say “tremendous” fan.  Bigly. (chuckles)

Margaret Atwood: Why thank you.

Mike Pence: The Handmaid’s Tale is just brilliant.  I’ve a copy of it in my office.

Margaret Atwood: (blinks)

Mike Pence: I’ve read several times.

Margaret Atwood: Um, you know that’s a dystopia, yes?

Mike Pence: (coughs) Oops.

 


Unlearning

Sometimes education is

a process of unlearning,

disrupting a foundation

and rebuilding anew

book by book.


Daunting Term Paper

Term paper season causes a lot of anxiety for students.  The grade is not a matter of memorization but of doing something with one’s acquired knowledge.  Scantrons no more!  The irony is we’re often eager to state our point of view except when it’s obligatory.  Here’s a few tips:

  1. Start with a subject covered in the course that interested you.  It’s important that you find your chosen topic to be intriguing.  Trust me, if you’re bored with your thesis then writing will be excruciating.  Don’t be afraid to connect a subject learned in class with something that aligns with your passion and/or area of expertise.
  2. Don’t worry if you’re momentarily paralyzed by the project.  Many writers feel the jitters when eyeing a blank page. Congratulations, you are normal!
  3. Break the tasks of putting the paper together into manageable bits.
  4. Try free writing (old-fashioned with pen and paper) using the following prompt: “This interested me because…”
  5. Or, try this: “This subject reminded me of…”
  6. At the risk of sounding corny, if your attitude is “Ugh, I have to write this term paper,” consider shifting your attitude to “I have an opportunity to explore an idea and express my thoughts.”
  7. Once you get a handle on your position regarding a topic then begin using the library’s search engine for publications on your subject matter.
  8. Reading the publications ask yourself: does this enhance my view?  How so?  Is this contrary to my view?
  9. Now begin an outline with a clear thesis, order of ideas, and a conclusion.  Why is this topic worthy of writing about?  How is it significant?
  10. Fill in your outline. Again, break the work up into bits if the task feels overwhelming.  Some people do wonderful work hours at a time, but that isn’t necessary for everyone.  Devote at least 25 minutes to pure focus time on your paper and shut off any distractions.  Step away for a while and then return to your work.
  11. Contact the professor if you’re concerned about the direction of your topic.  All professors were once students themselves and they understand the trials of paper writing.
  12. Chat with a friend about your paper idea.  Talking out loud about an idea can inject energy into your work.  Perhaps your friend will add an insight.
  13. After your first draft print your work.  I cannot stress this enough.  Never hand in a paper that hasn’t been printed and edited.  A print version allows you to spot grammar errors and awkward sentence flow better than re-reading on a screen.
  14. Review the professor’s guidelines regarding citations, margins, and other details.
  15. Type up corrections you made from your printed version.  I recommend printing another draft, stepping away from it to do another activity, and then re-read your printed version out loud and slowly.
  16. Edit out overused terms and double check your use of conjunctions.  Most likely due to the world of texting I’ve found many grammar errors confusing possessive with plural.  (Know the difference between it’s, its, you’re, your, then, than, their, there, whether, and weather.)
  17. Make your final corrections.  Print!  Cheer!
  18. Remember, your term paper is an expression of your thoughts.  You are offering an interpretation or analysis on a subject that is unique because it comes from you.  This is an exercise in thinking, not just knowing, and it is one of the ways you learn more about a subject and, in turn, more about yourself.

*Fancy more tips?  Click here.


Socrates Meets Trump

Socrates: By Hera!  You want to create a ban.

Trump: Bigly.  Against Muslims.

Socrates: Muslims?  You must be an expert to do such a bold move.

Trump: Indeed, I am, Socrates.

Socrates: Tell me so that I can learn from your wisdom, for surely you must know much of Islam.

Trump: Well…

Socrates: I’m listening.  You must have read about Islam, the philosophy, the experts, the practices. Only someone advanced in knowledge would propose a ban.

Trump: Well…

Socrates: You know people who practice Islam, yes?

Trump: Have you seen Homeland?  Tremendous show.

Socrates: I have not.

Trump: It’s important to keep the country safe from terrorists.

Socrates: And could you define “terrorist”?

Trump: Look, I promised in my campaign to restore law and order.

Socrates: Of course, good fellow and patriot.  Now, surely you could define law, for only someone well advanced in judicial matters who understands law would make that sort of promise.

Trump: Law is…have you met Bannon?  Law is what we…I put forth for the good of the nation.

Socrates: But law is certainly broader than that.  You say and write (and tweet) many things that do not fall under the category of law.  Law can’t be simply what you say.  It is much more. Please, good sir, don’t hold back.  What is law?

Trump: Did you hear about how Nordstrom treated my daughter?

Socrates: And what is Nordstrom?

Trump: It is a business.

Socrates: And what is business?  You must be an expert.

Trump: Yuge expert. I am a businessman.

Socrates: But I did not ask for an example, my friend.  I asked what is a business?

Trump: It is a place where goods are bought and sold.

Socrates: I see.  Thank you for that excellent response.  And how did this business treat your daughter?

Trump: They will no longer sell her goods!  Sad!

Socrates: Sad, indeed.  And, tell me, are her goods being bought?

Trump: She is my daughter!

Socrates: And is that part of the definition of business?

Trump: I am the president and I need to keep the country safe from terrorists!

Socrates: Is Nordstrom in the business of terrorism?

Trump: I’ll be investigating.

Socrates: Your concern for safety is admirable.

Trump: Why, thank you, Socrates.

Socrates: What defines a safe country?

Trump: Freedom!

Socrates: Would that include religion? Or a business to conduct itself on its choice of goods?

Trump: Really, Socrates, I would love to explain it all to you but for another time.  I have to post some tweets and get back to watching Fox.


Yes, I will March…

Yes, I will march for:

  1. To stand for equality.
  2. The belief in the goodness of democracy built on freedom of speech.
  3. Any person feeling disenfranchised.
  4. A promise of education as a cornerstone for excellence and societal progress.
  5. Ensuring Americans access to voting.
  6. The voice of three million voters not factored into the outcome of the election.

Yes, I will march in protest of:

  1. Glorifying a bully.
  2. Discussions of race narrowly construed in terms of criminality.
  3. Framing an entire religion as an enemy.
  4. Dismissing the seriousness of sexual assault.
  5. Reducing the worth of a woman to a scale of attractiveness.
  6. Ignoring science and its important contribution to evaluating environmental policy.
  7. Encouraging shouts of jailing a political opponent.
  8. Building walls.
  9. Calling the profession of journalism fake.
  10. Not disclosing tax returns so that the public can be informed of conflicts of interest.
  11. Painting America as a dystopia.

 


Taking Class Time to Discuss the News

Today’s class discussion, as scheduled on the syllabus, was shelved.  We talked about the election results.  A friend of mine said (somewhat incredulously) “You talk politics?”

“Yes,” I answered.

Allow me to explain.  I do not lecture my particular view points, rather I offer a space for the students to voice their concerns.  In all sincerity my heart broke a little for the students who felt as though a vote for Trump was a vote against their very existence.  And, my students who favored Trump did not want to be thought of as hateful.  They, on the other hand, cast their vote in the spirit of wanting economic change, something they believe will be better for the country as a whole.

I let the students know that my participation in the conversation was as a fellow citizen and not as their professor.  I wanted my students to feel safe to dialogue and learn about each others’ views without risk or fear.

The problem we have, I believe, with considering discourse about politics as “rude” means we only chat about it with people who share our views.  This makes any other understanding terribly distant and foreign.  It is the exact opposite of how a democracy that prides itself on freedom and information ought to function.  Unfortunately, throughout the campaign we saw offensive and hateful rhetoric which ultimately diminished opportunity for authentic discourse.  No one wants to exchange ideas in such a climate.

For my students who are minorities and expressed a deep sense of fear and pain I offered them the following: choose to believe in the basic goodness of people.  For my students who supported Trump I said: work to make this a successful and inclusive presidential term.

The essence of philosophy hinges on examining arguments and this cannot be done without exploring premises, the strong and the weak.  So, yes, I shelved our lecture on Descartes to give the students a free space to voice their thoughts about political issues/arguments.  But, most importantly I hope, I wanted to the students to also have a free space to listen.

Honestly, I want nothing more than for my students to be engaged and feel at peace with being part of the democratic process.  Can this happen in a classroom?  Is it right to do this?  For anyone worried that I imposed a liberal agenda on my students, please do not fret. I treated this time as an invitation to talk, not as a soap box moment for myself.  Besides, shouldn’t education be, in part, learning to formulate our thoughts?   That’s more fun than power point, yes?

 

 

 


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