Semi-stupid Tuesday questions, bassinet edition

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.

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86 Responses

  1. NewDealer says:

    When I was in grad school, the university admin (for the entire university) tried to crack down on grade inflation by saying As should be given sparingly. This caused one of my professors to give every one in the class an A minus. The whole idea of grading art seems silly to me. You can grade theatre history because it is an academic subject, same with script analysis/dramaturgy. But the directing, acting, and writing classes should have been Pass, Fail, and commentary. Maybe an H for Honors and people who did extra effort.

    In law school, I would say that grading on a curve is a fairly silly thing that has been around forever and no school is going to get rid of even if various individual professors decry the practice. Stanford and Yale can get away with not giving grades because they are Stanford and Yale. It seems completely arbitrary to me and just a way to make sure that there are people to fail the class or get poor grades because the admin decides that “10 percent must fail” or some number. The same is true for engineering and other science courses that use curves in grading.

    In terms of professional practice, Continuing Legal Education credits. The Bar only instituted them because other professions had them and based on my experience, very few people pay attention during the classes. I did a two-day bank course this summer to get my credits done and everyone was sleeping, doing other work on their laptops, reading books while the lecturer droned on.*

    *I have a suspicion that people who do CLE lectures want to be professors but lacked the charisma to teach.Report

    • ScarletNumbers in reply to NewDealer says:

      I have a suspicion that people who do CLE lectures want to be professors but lacked the charisma to teach.

      Sort of like how actuaries are accountants without the charisma.Report

    • Alan Scott in reply to NewDealer says:

      It seems completely arbitrary to me and just a way to make sure that there are people to fail the class or get poor grades because the admin decides that “10 percent must fail” or some number. The same is true for engineering and other science courses that use curves in grading.

      is that even a thing? I’d be pretty wary of an science or engineering program that used a curve like that. Auto-failing the bottom 10 percent of your class just means you’re too lazy about numbers to actually figure out a fair grading system that appropriately assesses under-performing students. If you can’t design a test that your crappy students will fail, how the hell can you be trusted to design a bridge or a double-blind trial, or to teach your students to do the same?Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Alan Scott says:

        I’d be pretty wary of an science or engineering program that used a curve like that. Auto-failing the bottom 10 percent of your class…

        …would be a major relaxation of standards.Report

  2. LeeEsq says:

    CLE requirements. CLE stands for Continuing Legal Education. In order to be a member of the bar in good standing, lawyers are required to complete twenty-four CLE credits every two years and these credits must distributed among different areas like ethics, professional practice, etc. in certain amounts. This requirement did not exist before the 1990s when it was basically created because other professions had continuing education requirements and so should lawyers.

    I hate them because finding CLEs relevant to your practice is tough, classes can be expensive and the credits you get for them low, and you have to sacrifice either work time or free time in order to do them. Sometimes you learn something interesting but often you just sit there bored and waiting to get your certificate.Report

    • NewDealer in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Great minds think alike!Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I have had very different experiences. Most of the CLE that I take is relevant and useful to my practice. Or about some thing interesting. The boring ones are in the mandatory subjects, usually substance abuse and anti-discrimination, because it’s the same lecture every three years. (“I was an out of control alcoholic lawyer and here’s what rock bottom looks like,” and “here’s what a trip to the courthouse feels like to a young black man.”) mostly, I like CLE.Report

  3. Maribou says:

    I’m not saying this applies to anyone in particular, but it seems to me that in the effort to not step on any toes, a *very few* members of my profession can be just the tiniest little skitch passive aggressive, and also even sometimes a bit over the top in their circuitousness.

    Which, you know, if that’s their thing, more power to them, I just think they could possibly consider the perspective of those for whom that entire process is not quite as optimal as it could be.Report

  4. Kazzy says:

    I’m still not sure I fully understand snow days. If the roads are unsafe for transporting children, why are they safe for everyone else? It would seem to me that more things should be closed on snow days OR we should have far, far fewer of them. When I’ve asked this question of higher ups, I often get some mumbling about liability. Which is no doubt a very real concern. And the well-being of children is a very real concern. But I don’t know if it is so overwhelming a concern that schools in certain areas of the country should close as often as they do while everyone else is expected to find a safe way to where ever it is they are expected to be.

    Don’t get me wrong… I generally love snow days. But it is curious.

    I’ve also heard some teachers defend tenure because, without it, they could potentially be fired for reasons unrelated to their teaching (often described as “political reasons”). But it seems to me that this is generally the case for most professionals. Why are teachers in need of unique protections? I never quite understood that. While I would hope that teachers would not be fired for reasons unrelated to their ability to support the healthy development and growth of their students (which does include more than just what we traditionally think of as “teaching”), I don’t know that teachers are at either unique risk of having this happen nor in need of unique protection. I have never worked in a school that offered tenure and have yet to see a teacher fired for unjust reasons. In fact, one of the more unjust firings of a teacher I saw was explicitly because of tenure (a friend was on the verge of attaining tenure and because budget cuts were looming, the department had to preemptively fire him since he was low man on the totem pole, even though his supervisor rated him higher than tenured colleagues).

    Regarding Apgar scores, Mayo got a 9, losing a point for color. Which was blue. Because he had the cord around his neck for at least part of the birth. If anything, it felt too high. “9 outa 10? For a blue baby?”Report

    • morat20 in reply to Kazzy says:


      I happen to think tenure is rather useful for teachers — because of the rather sizable power a local school board has over schools.

      Now I hail from Texas, which has no tenure (if there are a 100 teachers in Texas with ‘lifetime contracts’ I’d be shocked, which is as close as we came — and they phased those out decades ago. They weren’t ever very common), and I’ve seen the mess a local school board or a bad superintendent (chosen by the school board) can leave.

      And I’ve seen teachers fold to stupidity, nepotistic behavior, and basic school board-level political shenanigans to keep their jobs. (My personal favorite: A school district wherein the superintendent instructed the school diags to label all special needs kids as ‘dyslexic’ — yes, that includes kids with Downs, autism, etc — so they could just have ONE class to handle them all. Save money, dontcha know! Two diags quit, the head of the program quit, and the new head had no special-needs experience or education, and had been out of college less than a year. The number of federal laws they broke before that super was shown the door…good god.)

      Seriously, you want political abuses of power and dictators, odds are your local school board is were you’ll find them. Politicians higher up the food chain simply can’t get away with those sorts of things.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to morat20 says:


        I’ve only worked in private schools so the structures are indeed different. However, I would challenge schools to resolve the issue some other way. Tenure, which seems to be just as often abused as it is employed properly, just seems to be corruption begetting more corruption.Report

      • morat20 in reply to morat20 says:

        *shrug*. Feel free to come up with one. Tenure’s not really that common among public school teachers. Some states have it, some states don’t, some states have a weird mix.

        The thing is school boards are ridiculously powerful over public schools, and they’re staffed entirely by whomever is motivated to run for school board. (Not that our State board is better. It was headed for the longest time by a Creationist Dentist, who sought the job entirely because he wanted evolution out of schools)

        By and large, a solid minority of any board is going to be people with some sort of agenda.

        One of the ones near us had a near-minority of religious fundamentalists for almost 10 years. (They were one seat away from a majority). Of that block, only one had a child in the district — the other 5 had kids, but in private schools. They were there entirely to push a Creationist and Christian ‘educational program’.

        The elections were fun. Why, there was that fun year flyers were passed out claiming one of the (non-fundamenalist) members up for election advocated teaching masturbation to 7 year olds.

        These were the sort of people who chose the superintendents, who approved principles and vice-principles, and who threw their weight around — whether in pursuit of an agenda, or just personal peeves or because someone gave a C to their precious kiddo.

        Now the district in question, luckily, had a superintendent during those years with a serious backbone. Not everyone would have backed his staff like that — not with the sort of hassle even a single peeved board member can bring down.Report

      • ScarletNumbers in reply to morat20 says:

        If you want to see the dumbest people in your community, just go to the local school board meeting.Report

      • ScarletNumbers in reply to morat20 says:


        By and large, a solid minority majority of any board is going to be people with some sort of agenda.

        Fixed that for you.

        The only saving grace on most school boards is that while almost everyone has an agenda, most of the time a majority doesn’t have the same agenda. Of course coalitions can form so 2 or more of the issues on the agenda get resolved.

        Much like Churchill said about democracy, tenure is the worst form of job protection, except for all of the others.Report

    • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy says:

      Why are teachers in need of unique protections?

      A couple of reasons (none of which necessarily demonstrate that we deserve this protection, but do show why we are more vulnerable than some other professions).

      First, we–at least college profs–often deal with politically controversial issues. The vaunted “academic freedom” (which is less secure than many people, both in and out of the academy believe) is meaningless without some real protection. We’ve seen some notable cases in the news in recent years. In some cases those profs were acting, in my not at all humble but very considered opinion, unprofessionally. In others they were just exploring challenging ideas in challenging ways.

      One of the things we have to do if we’re going to teach students is to challenge their preconceptions, and a lot of students really resist that. After the 2004 election I had students write a short paper explaining why Bush won/Kerry lost–my only requirement was that the paper not be ideological, to get them out of their ideological comfort zones and force them to engage in actual considered thought, hopefully even real analysis. One student wrote that Kerry lost because he was a flip-flopper, and her example was that he said something in 1973 and said something different in 2004. I gave her an F, explained why, and she went to the Dean to complain that I was being unfair. Some people get really upset when challenged to actually think about their political beliefs.

      A few years back the then-VP of our college half-jokingly asked me when I was going to let him talk to my American Government class so he could give a Republican balance to the liberal bias. We were walking together, and I stopped in my tracks, and when he turned I looked him square in the eyes and asked why he assumed I had a liberal bias in my classroom. The assumptions about what I was doing in my classroom, based on no knowledge of what I actually did, was rather chilling.

      We had a very popular adjunct fired simply because he listened to students complaining about the administration, and we had a theater prof initially denied tenure because the administration covered up the title of the play Urine Town while the Trustees were in town (lest any of them be offended), and students complained–the justification was that the prof didn’t keep the students under control (yes, keeping students under control, and not questioning authority, is what college administrators would really like, even though it’s at odds with what we say higher education is about).

      Academia is supposedly a place of intellectual freedom, but I would argue that academics are at more risk for being fired for political statements than most other professions.

      Which might not be such a problem if jobs in the profession were more plentiful. If I’m a lawyer who gets fired from firm X because I argued that people in the Bush administration should be in prison for approving torture (and is that likely to happen?), there are frequently many other law firms, or I could actually set up shop on my own. A doctor with politically unpopular opinions who’s a good doctor can likely find another hospital willing to hire him. An accountant, stockbroker, etc., there are plenty of firms out there, and while a middle-age person may find it harder to get another job at the same pay grade, they’re not necessarily closed out of the profession.

      But me? As a mid-career prof, my options are extremely limited. The odds of another school hiring me instead of a young turk fresh out of grad school are slim to none. If I were a renowned researcher, yes, because another school might want the prestige of having me, but no matter how good my teaching is–no matter that I know more about my subject now than when I started a decade+ ago, or that I know without a doubt that I have improved my courses significantly–my options are almost nonexistent. A fired lawyer could remain in the same career; I probably could not (and 48 years old is not an ideal time to be a beginner in a new career–much less if I were in my late 50s).

      And I cost my college far more than a new guy would. Keep in mind that college presidents serve an average of 7 years and frequently face tight budgets. The long term effect of changing faculty every 5 years or so might not influence their decisionmaking as much as the prospect of the instant budget improvements of replacing all us old timers with fresh young faces. Everyone likes to point out that big businesses focus on the quarterly reports, well colleges and universities focus on the semesterly (or quarterly, where they use that system) enrollment numbers. My college has over 100 of about 500 frosh not returning for the spring term–we have to cut something to make the budget numbers work, why not that annoying libertarian prof who keeps causing us headaches by driving American Government students to us with complaints that he didn’t respect their political beliefs?

      Does that necessarily justify tenure? Well, we’d have to take into account the downsides of tenure, too. I’m tenured, and in a couple of years I’m up for my last promotion to full professor. And thanks to being unionized my salary forever after is determined by a lockstep schedule. After that, what’s my incentive to not just mail it in? I have qualms about tenure, myself, but I also recognize that we don’t have a normal market in the college prof labor market. So, I don’t know. But that’s why we self-servingly fight for tenure (and why college administrators and Boards of Trustees increasingly seek to dismantle it).Report

      • Stillwater in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        I remember reading about a Prof in the cog-sci (??) department at Univ. of Michigan who did really good solid work in his field and was offered tenure as a result. For the next few years all he did was publish a bunch of political analysis papers offering some pretty heavy critiques of both US parties but primarily the GOP. Conservatives came out of the woodwork claiming the guy was Exhibit A of what’s wrong with the tenure system in academia. His response was something to the effect that he’d always wanted to write and publish these papers anyway but the political climate is/was so intense that doing so would have jeopardized his job and potential tenure appointment. It was only because of the job security that he felt comfortable writing about topics that were, from other people’s povs, politically sensitive.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        I’m willing to concede that colleges might function differently enough from PK-12 institutions such that tenure might be more justified. But I would still be tempted to argue that there are probably better ways to avoid the unique issues that educators might face than the current tenure system. Why does a math teacher need tenure? Why should a 6th year teacher have more academic freedom than a 4th year teacher (or two teachers on either side of whatever the dividing line is)? Why does tenure automatically vest instead of having to be earned? How do we avoid abusing the tenure system (as you outline)?

        Why is it that the market is so distorted for college professors? Having been involved in a good amount of hiring processes, I would say that the same issues do not generally present themselves in PK-12 schools. We might look at a veteran teacher and think, “This person might cost us more.” But we also look at rookie teachers and think, “Parents will revolt if we keep hiring teachers with no lead experience.” So, ultimately, a balance is going to be arrived at.

        Of course, this is at a private institution. Public institutions don’t need to worry about parent responses. At least not as directly as private ones do. So the incentives are different.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:


        In higher education, at least, tenure is earned, and not automatically vested (although requirements vary wildly depending on institution type, with some top level research universities making it very hard to earn tenure and some small private colleges just having a requirement of not laying one’s hands upon a student in either a violent or a sexual way).

        And as far as public universities go, the pressures on the institution may be greater, because while they don’t have to worry about parents, they do have to worry about state legislatures.

        Why is the market so distorted for hiring profs? In part because of tenure! But also, in large part, because there’s a real disconnect between the needs of universities for academics in particular disciplines and the needs of particular departments at graduate schools for TAs. There’s not a good feedback mechanism between demand and supply. There’s often a real sense of astonishment and betrayal when grad students realize how dim their job prospects are, but often by then they feel like they’ve invested too much to quit.

        Of course it’s all discipline specific. Some have high demand and low supply, others are the opposite. Getting a PhD in English is a real crapshoot; getting a PhD in math nearly guarantees you a job, particularly if you’re a native English speaker or very fluent with minimal accent.Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Kazzy, you’re right that the needs of College Professors are different than the needs of gradeschool teachers. But the rules for tenure are actually really different between college and gradeschool, so there you go.

        A major reason for K-12 tenure is that in a crisis, people tend to make poor decisions. And public schools are in crisis really, really often. James can talk about academic freedom, Morat can talk about corrupt administration, but what it really comes down to is this:
        The most experienced teachers are often the best, and also the best paid. Without tenure, it’s really often those teachers who are let go in a financial squeeze. In a for-profit company, good employees = dollars, so management is incentivized to keep them even when they’re expensive. In a public school, good teachers improve student outcomes, but they don’t add to the bottom line any more than bad ones.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        @alan-scott @jm3z-aitch

        Given what you’ve offered, allow me to do two things:

        1.) Restrict my criticism of tenure to PK-12 institutions. Universities seem different enough that it seems wrong to put them under the same umbrella.
        2.) Temper my criticism a bit. The issue of firing better teachers because they also tend to be more expensive teachers is real and probably needs some mechanism to avoid. However, I’m not sure the current system achieves that. As I understand it, tenure tends to vest somewhere around the five-year mark. It is typically automatic. So while it may protect some great teachers from being let go for financial reasons, it also prevents some bad teachers from being let go. And, as in the case of my friend, causes some great teachers who are pre-tenure to be let go. This is where I think the standardization of public education is a real issue. Set pay scales have all the negative incentives James discussed: why bust your hump if you’re going to get paid the same as every other twelfth year teacher with a masters no matter what? And strict rules about student-teacher ratios limit the ability to leverage better teachers into a financially advantageous position. While I do think good student-teacher ratios are important, not all teachers are created equal. A really talented teacher can lead a group of 26 students better than a crappy teacher can lead a group of 18 students. But if you have strict rules that cap student-teacher ratios based on the lowest-common-denominator teacher, than 52 teachers might require 3 teachers to stay under the 18:1 threshold, while you might ultimately have a better institution with two great teachers teaching 26 each. You’d still want some cap (“Mr. Smith, you won teacher of the year. We’re going to give you 400 students for pre-calc.”) but there should be more flexibility in there for administrators to differentiate. Of course, this requires administrators with the time and skill to really evaluate teaching methods and make such determinations, which often does not exist.

        So, perhaps tenure isn’t quite the evil I previously thought (and I appreciate your feedback in helping me shift this perspective), but I would still likely contend that it is a suboptimal solution to a very real issue. I don’t, however, think teachers are doing themselves any favor when they contend that they need tenure because an administrator who doesn’t like them might try to get them fired. They should construct better arguments (as you two have done here) in defense of the system or a similar system.Report

      • Kim in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Someone published a “server test” using a Conservative DDOS, deliberately instigated by trolling “who was going to win the election tomorrow”Report

      • dhex in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:


        “Why is it that the market is so distorted for college professors?”

        a tremendous amount of overproduction, plus the issue of terminal degrees in many fields not having any application – and indeed often being a hinderance – in the job market outside of academia.

        my wife’s lit phd would serve her as a professor or maybe as a teacher in one of the tonier manhattan private high schools. beyond that? it would dissuade people from hiring her due to salary and boredom/shipjumping perceptions.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:


        Would it be considered unethical for her to not list the PhD on her resume when applying for non-academic positions? I would think not… I exclude all sorts of things on my resume that aren’t related to the job I’m applying for or which do little to bolster my chances. So long as she didn’t misrepresent more broadly (e.g., lying if asked directly about it), it seems appropriate for her to exclude things that might lower her chances of being hired — even if under normal circumstances it would be prudent to include it.

        If she pursued the degree for reasons other than professional goals and/or her professional goals have shifted such that it is no longer directly related, this might be the advisable course. Were I to become a sommelier because I was really interested in wine, I probably wouldn’t include this on my resume for a teaching position lest they think I was a drunk.Report

      • dhex in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:


        “Would it be considered unethical for her to not list the PhD on her resume when applying for non-academic positions? ”

        unethical, probably not? or at least only mildly unethical. the real issue is the time gap of 10+ years.

        “so you spent about a third of your life not working – what did you do?”Report

      • Kazzy in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        “Reading. A lot.”

        That likely would be an issue with PhDs because of their length and the fact that you usually aren’t working otherwise. I could exclude my MS because I was still fully employed in that time (not that I would… but I could without raising an eyebrow).Report

    • Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

      Kids are small (lose heat faster), and often don’t do what they ought to do (wear gloves, not throw snowballs at each other outside).
      People don’t want liability for them getting hurt.

      Still, windchill of “freezes in 10 minutes” ought to mean EVERYTHING gets canceled.
      (bear in mind, I don’t have a car).Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy says:

      But it seems to me that this is generally the case for most professionals. Why are teachers in need of unique protections?

      Teachers get tenure? Primary and secondary school researchers? But they don’t do research. There’s no academic freedom to protect.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        “researchers” should be “teachers.”Report

      • @brandon-berg
        Choosing what to teach is a part of academic freedom and can be incredibly controversial. Tenure offers some insulation from those who’d micromanage a curriculum. Here are some past challenges and/or attempted bannings,*

        Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut
        In 1976 the Island Trees (NY) School Board removed the book because it was “anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic and just plain filthy.”

        I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
        In 1983, four members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee called for the rejection of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, claiming the work preaches “bitterness and hatred toward white people and encourages deviant behavior because of references to lesbianism, premarital sex and profanity.”

        The Color Purple by Alice Walker
        In 1984, The Color Purple was challenged as appropriate reading for Oakland, CA high school honors classes due to the work’s “sexual and social explicitness” and its “troubling ideas about race relations, man’s relationship to God, African history and human sexuality.” After nine months of negotiations and delays, a divided Oakland Board of Education gave formal approval for the book’s use.

        In The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
        In 1985, In the Night Kitchen was challenged at the Cunningham Elementary School in Beloit, WI because the book was believed to desensitize children to nudity.

        This list goes on and on. Empowered to fire teachers for including or having included these banned/challenged books (eroding tenure) would have a chilling impact on materials selection, and I’d argue impinge upon an important element of academic freedom.


  5. NewDealer says:

    Another thing about CLE courses is that they are generally useless. They are very abbreviated versions of what you did in law school or bar prep. I just listened to one on the work-hire doctrine in copyright law. It condensed a day or two of classroom material into one hour. Another one on wills and trusts condensed an entire semester into an hour or an hour and a half. Anyone doing Wills and Trusts already knows this stuff and anyone who doesn’t is just going to zone out.Report

    • J@m3z Aitch in reply to NewDealer says:

      I think the idea of continuing education is great. It’s too easy for people to stop learning, and forget things they once learned. But good ideas don’t automatically translate into good execution. In fact the very idea of something being a good idea doesn’t automatically mean good execution is even possible.Report

  6. Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    Structural engineering is the art of modelling materials we do not wholly understand into shapes we cannot precisely analyse so as to withstand forces we cannot properly assess in such a way that the public at large has no reason to suspect the extent of our ignorance.

    Something similar could be said for all engineering disciplines. Luckily we are good at over-engineering.

    Bug was a 4 & spent a few hours in the NICU.Report

    • Apgar scores have more clinical utility when things aren’t entirely normal. And glad it was only a few hours!Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Russell Saunders says:

        He was delivered by emergency C-section, had trouble transitioning, so while mom got sewed up, I got to spend a few terrified hours waiting for him to get better.

        Once mom was able, they wheeled her into the room, where bug had been quietly whimpering & breathing shallow all the time. Once he got put on mom, he perked up, and when mom left, he started screaming & didn’t stop until he was back in mommas arms (I didn’t know they could get a baby out of a NICU that fast).Report

    • Chris in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      Both my son and his little brother spent a few days in an oxygen tent in the NICU. I was young and the hospital staff was not particularly communicative, so I had no idea what was going on and spent much of the 4 days my son was in the tent in a state of near panic. To this day, I remember the feeling of the nurse handing him to me when he got out, like it happened just few minutes ago (he’s 16 now).Report

    • Rose Woodhouse in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      James (kiddo with severe disabilities) was 6 then 9 on Apgar. Within two hours he’d turned blue and needed to be in NICU for 4 months. He had two separate heart problems. So I am a bit hesitant about the value of Apgar scores. And don’t get me started on sonograms. James was fine, just fine! My third kiddo, who is totally healthy, was prenatally suspected of: missing part of his brain, several “soft signs” of Down syndrome, possible dwarfism, and hydrocephaly. Had a C-section because his head circumference was repeatedly >99th percentile in all sonograms, which seemed a non-ideal situation for VBAC. When born (Apgar 9, 9 btw), he was 50th percentile on all measures, including head circumference. Brain fully operational.

      What drives me crazy in my job: the phrase “learner-centered.” Everyone is supposed to be learner-centered. This seems sort of obvious – isn’t that why we are in a classroom? I mean, I do learn from my students, but that’s not why we’re all getting together twice a week. As far as I can gather, “learner-centered” doesn’t consistently mean much more than “don’t spend your entire class time lecturing.” The other thing that drives me crazy is the trend of putting “course goals” on syllabi. Isn’t the goal always pretty much “to learn more about X” where X is the subject of the course? Also to improve some academic skills? Do we really need that on the syllabus? Does it change the way the course is run or perceived one iota? Educational trends come and go with a crazy lack of supporting data.

      Also, the job market. About which I will post post-haste.Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to Rose Woodhouse says:

        Crazy lack of supporting data. Heck yes.

        I’m getting my teaching credential right now and sometimes I feel like half of what I’m being taught has been copied off of the facebook account of an aunt who posts about how we’re being poisoned by microwave ovens and glucose. It’s all anecdotes and badly applied pop psychology. Especially the stuff about Howard Gardner and Multiple Intelligence theory.Report

  7. Scarlet, who is now 2.5, got a 9 and a 10.Report

  8. Rod says:

    I’ve been under the impression that both my girls were 9.9’s. Was that really 9 and 9, and I just misunderstood? In any case, they were both delightfully strong and healthy babies.Report

  9. Glyph says:

    My babies went to 11.Report

  10. Burt Likko says:

    I shall answer in the form of a haiku:

    I thought attorneys
    Were rich and got laid a lot.
    Turns out, that’s not true.


  11. J@m3z Aitch says:

    what’s a tic unique to your profession that you find silly or strange?

    I don’t know about unique, but certainly particularly notable, is academics’ ability to talk endlessly in meetings without really getting anywhere or coming to conclusions. Over the years at my college I’ve developed a keen sense of who I want on a committee and who I strive to avoid, and that metric has nothing to do with personal like/dislike or degree of professional respect. It’s all about whether they’re the type that use meetings as bull sessions or as work sessions.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

      I don’t know about unique, but certainly particularly notable, is academics’ ability to talk endlessly in meetings without really getting anywhere or coming to conclusions.

      Not unique. Trust me on this.Report

    • Chris in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

      My favorite thing about academic meetings is that, after a certain age, it’s not only acceptable, but tacitly expected that you will fall asleep within the first five minutes.Report

    • Rose Woodhouse in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

      Forgot: the idea in my field, at least, that you are not academically serious if you attend to your wardrobe with some care.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to Rose Woodhouse says:

        I find it rather interesting about how some professions/cultures consider caring about fashion/dress to be somewhere between foppish and unserious to at worst supporting an actively evil industry with various beauty myths and poor labor practices in the making of clothing.

        The fashion industry does have a lot of problems but I don’t think caring about clothes or appearance is foppish and unserious. It takes a lot of thought to make a unique and interesting item of clothing or footwear. It is an art.Report

      • Kim in reply to Rose Woodhouse says:

        I personally like useful clothing. Be it made of silver or not.
        To me, fashion ought to be like architecture…
        form, function… and style.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

      Yes. This. I will also add that it seems damn near mandatory that elementary or early childhood teachers cry during at least one meeting a year. I am constantly in violation of this rule as it takes every fiber of my being to not stand up and yell, “Crying? CRYING?!?! THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!”Report

  12. NewDealer says:


    Re: Omitting advanced degrees from job search.

    I’ve seen ethical discussions about this from people who feel their advanced degrees hurt their job prospects. I think it could be considered lying by omission but dhex is right about the time gap. I have my MFA on my resume. Whether it helps or hurts me is up to debate. Probably does both at the same time. In good news, it makes me interesting. In bad news, it makes me interesting.Report

    • I’ve a few years experience in the HR/Staffing/Hiring realm and I have never heard anyone suggest that it is unethical to omit information from a resume. On the contrary, candidates are generally counselled to omit information that isn’t pertinent to the job.

      Frankly, unless a potential employer specifically asks about the information, I can’t see how it even approaches unethical territory (at least in a general sense… in certain industries there might be industry-specific ethics). Maybe that’s just a Canadian thing.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

        This would be my assumption, @jonathan-mcleod , but I didn’t know how much stock to put in that.Report

      • Kim in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

        It’s unethical to omit information that is pertinent to your hire.
        At some point, though, it may be unavoidable. NDA.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

        I can’t find the link of the story. It was from when Randy Cohen did the Ethicist column for the times. To be fair, they ran an update where the woman omitted her PhD and got a job.

        That being said it leaves me uneasy to omit by MFA.Report

      • Kim in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

        To any employer worth their salt,
        the first words out of their mouth in the interview
        would be “where the hell were you for the past 2-8 years?”
        (Unless you’re actually listing practical job experience for that time,
        in which case, credit to you for working on the side)Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:


        Is your unease, well, eased at all if you are doing so because they would use it in a prejudicial manner? I find the idea of not hiring people because they are overqualified to be highly problematic.Report

      • Kim in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

        I find the idea of not training people to be more problematic.
        If you hire someone, who you think has a reasonable likelihood to not be working there in 5 months… really? You’re going to look bad to your boss, and that’s not a good thing.
        [This is one among many reasons people don’t hire “overqualified” people, I understand.]Report

      • “Pertinent” is doing a lot of work there, Kim.Report

      • Kim in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

        Naturally. I don’t consider “Liking Anime” to be pertinent to any hiring decisions, like, ever.
        But the US government feels differently… (actually, I think that’s the one “foreign interest” they leave out of raising concerns over… so maybe I should say “liking Bollywood”…)

        Work for a competitor (particularly one that might be prone to sending in spies?). That you really ought to disclose (as it’s helpful in risk evaluation).

        Drug convictions — any arrests of any sort, are pertinent to many positions.

        That said, many things ought to be able to be left off a resume, and explained in person. (naturally, the worst will be assumed, but that’s also a risk people take).Report

      • Kim, I see no issue leaving off that you worked for a competitor (though in many industries that’s a bonus)… assuming you’re not lying about for whom you worked.

        As you noted above, in an interview, the potential employer will be able to inquire about recent or not-so-recent positions. Such information can come out then (unless the interviewee lies… but no one here is suggesting lying). And if the employer doesn’t want to do an interview and just hire based on resumes, well, buyer beware and all that.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to NewDealer says:

      “That means you wouldn’t be hiring just any lawyer, you’d get one serious M*****F***ing Attorney.”Report

  13. Sam Wilkinson says:


    Babies have me missing posts left and right. I’m sorry I missed this one. But to briefly revisit the babies-just-been-born-let’s-check-her-out test, I’d like to note that the team of 8,000 medical professionals who helped to deliver my (beautiful, frustrating) daughter managed to miss that two of her toes were fused together. There was no mention of it anywhere until my wife noticed it two days later. We don’t care obviously – although once again, medical professionals were quick to tell us we could get the “problem” fixed – but we were still tickled that everybody missed. Hell, she and I both missed for 48 hours.Report