Saturday, June 30, 2007

Liberal Arts and ROTC

Like many liberal arts colleges, my school has many more women enrolled on campus than men. Every now and then, some of my colleagues and I sit around at lunch and attempt to 'solve' the college's problems. One day in the Spring the problem we were focused on was how to recruit more men - some tried and true methods were thrown around, add football, add wrestling, add engineering, etc. I suggested adding ROTC. My colleagues looked at me like I had grown an extra head. Like I was proposing shipping students off to Iraq immediately or had proclaimed my support for the current military activities in the Middle East. Comments like, 'It would cause too much conflict on campus' to 'We aren't in the business of educating soldiers' were thrown around.

One of my colleagues, however, a former enlisted man in navy argued that those unhappy with the current state of affairs in the military should be the ones who push the hardest to get ROTC offered at liberal arts colleges. Why wouldn't you want officers to have the best kind of critical thinking skills and have been exposed to different viewpoints, international theories, and read widely on many different topics? This type of military official is able to problem solve, think for him/herself, and maybe someday direct the future of the military in a way that takes into account the history and cultures of other nations.

I couldn't agree more. I'd love to see more ROTC offered at more liberal arts colleges. I'd love to see more Harvard or Stanford or Berkley men and women joining the military. I'm not advocating militarizing higher education, but rather finding a way to provide future military leaders with the broadest and best learning opportunities possible.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lost AP Gems

I was going through my notes from grading the AP U.S. history exam and found these last few gems that I wanted to share. The question I was grading had to do with the impact of the Second Great Awakening on temperance, abolition, Utopian communities, and the cult of domesticity.
  • Abraham Lincoln responded to John Brown's actions by writing the Emancipation Proclamation.
  • In the North two very important commodities were beer and slaves. Without these two commodities the North's economy would have a tough time getting by.
  • There were many great abolitionists such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Fredrick Douglass, and Ulysses S. Grant.
  • The Brook Farm experiment proved to be ineffective because people died from not having sexual pleasure.
  • The Shriners did not believe in procreation.
  • It was safer to face an angry Southerner than an angry lion.
  • The only lasting impact of the Oneidas was their silverware. I myself have a rubber Oneida spatula purchased five years ago at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
  • Actually none of this is probably true. I don't know what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wouldn't My Provost Be Proud

Online Dating

Apparently, the words kill, crap, and crack make this blog inappropriate for those under 13.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Eight Random Facts Meme

I got tagged for the 8 Random Facts Meme by David Parker over at Another History Blog. Here are the rules:

  • Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.
  • Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.
  • Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.
1. I was always good at history in school, but choose it as my major because of how few hours you were required to take.

2. I'm very proud of my writing, but it takes me forever to write something decent. It takes even longer if it has to be decent and original/insightful.

3. I've never had a crush on any of my professors or students. I'm much more of a 'crush on my peers' sort of gal.

4. When I told my dad I wanted to go to graduate school in history, I got several lectures on 'how so-and-so was a Ph.D. bagging groceries' and 'why couldn't I get a good job with 4 years of college'.

5. I'm a sucker for students with a hard-luck tale (as long as there aren't repetitive hard-luck tales).

6. I believe that most of the people I work with are smarter than me. I just work hard.

7. I've never owned a brand new car and am proud of it.

8. I don't understand why so many academic historians look down on public history, historical reenactors, genealogists, etc. Isn't there room for all different types of history lovers in the world?

I'm tagging the following five people (if they haven't already been tagged) - I'm suppose to tag 8, but it's the summer and I'm lazy. Tim Lacy, Another Damned Medievalist, Jennie W, Progressive Historians, and Nerdgasms.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

When Will My Zombie Obsession End?


Could you survive? Find out here.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Productive Summer Anyone?

I read an article by Mary McKinney, an Academic Career Coach, about how to have a productive summer.

She recommended:

1. Come up with your number one priority

Instead of working on several projects over the summer, none of which get enough time devoted to them, focus on completing one of them. Once that one is finished, perhaps you'll have time to move on to the next project.

2. Carve out time

Set aside time that is typically not available when school is in session to work on your project. Don't let other responsibilities that aren't your number one priority infringe on that time.

3. Increase your motivation

Let your partner, colleagues, friends, etc. know what you plan to accomplish during the summer. This will help motivate you since you'll want to avoid the embarrassment of not finishing.

Since my own summer has been horribly, unproductive so far I am going to try and do this. I have like three things I really need to finish, but instead of stressing over them all at once and not getting any of them done. I'll set my priorities and work on them one at a time, during a certain part of my day, and I won't let anything interfere with it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

IWW Recruitment Flyer

The rumor was true. The wobblies were trying to organize AP readers in Lexington. However, the only evidence I have of that is flyer that was passed around my table on the last day of grading.

All-in-all, it is a pretty weak effort at organization. I like their demands, but surely you need more than a flyer to get workers united - especially workers from all around the country who have little in common except that they grade AP exams.

Of course this is all just speculation on my part, I've never attempted to unionize anyone. I was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electronics Workers for about 6 months and from that experience (as limited as it was), I think the IWW has a long way to go with organizing AP readers.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Wobblies Are Back and They Are in Lexington

So rumor has it that the IWW is trying to unionize AP graders. They want us to ask for things like more money (apparently there has not been a pay raise in the last 8 years - has ETS not heard about INFLATION?!?), private hotel rooms, better food, etc.

I thought they would be asking for us to overthrow the system and try to implement socialism, but apparently they've adapted their ideology since the Great War. I also haven't heard any talks about bombs or the use of violence to attain graders demands. I guess tactics have had to change too.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Difference Between the AHA Conference and AP Grading

For those of you who have ever wondered about the differences between attending the AHA Conference and AP Grading here is a handy little sheet. There are probably other differences too, but these are the only ones I could come up with before dinner.

Some of the best lines from the AP papers I graded in the last two days about the Great Awakening:

  • Also during the Great Awakening people started changing their way of life. People started listening to different kinds of music like jazz.
  • When Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick was drafted to play football for Atlanta Falcons he brought a whole new style with him. This is much like the Second Great Awakening.
  • When Tom Sawyer wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin it created excitement around the world.
  • Before the Second Great Awakening Puritans and Muslims were trying to make themselves fit into society.
  • Alcohol and religion just seem to go together.
  • I suck at history, why can't this be a math test?

These are some lines from a question on the Shay's Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion.

  • Nothing can come between a man and his whiskey except maybe 13,000 troops.
  • Shay's Rebellion was an important even remembered by many people. Unfortunately, I am not one of them.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Grading U.S. History AP Exams - Day 2

So today was a little rough. 8 hours of grading essays on the Second Great Awakening. At first I had a bunch of okay and a little better than okay essays. So I spent way too much time figuring out if the essay was just okay or not. My second big group of essays were much much worse. They fell into two categories, complete crap and mostly crap. I actually started getting mad at the students. I mean what the Fux?! You are in an AP class and this is all you got? Give me a break!

Here are the gems from today:
  • As a result of the Second Great Awakening many state governments passed laws banning the teaching of evolution.
  • A woman working a job during the Second Great Awakening would be considered a flapper.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Where are all the history teachers this week?

If you guessed Lexington, KY you were right.

Why are there 1000+ history teachers in Lexington? We are grading the U.S. History A.P. Exams. It is my first time as a grader, but so far it hasn't been so bad. Apparently almost 200,000 students took the exam and there are close to 1 million essays that need to graded over the next seven days.

It was described by a colleague as a grading gulag, but I haven't felt that pain yet. Of course, being the first day we spent 1/2 the time trying to learn how to grade consistently with everyone else. We'll see how mind-numbing it becomes tomorrow.

I'm grading a question about the Second Great Awakening and it's connection to things like abolition and temperance. Best line from a paper I've seen today: "Drinking makes people feel good, and the Puritans weren't down with that."

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Little Knowledge of History is a Dangerous Thing

Found this on McSweeney's. It is pretty hillarious.


Richard Nixon and Winston Churchill
NIXON: Hello, I see you're smoking a cigar and wearing a large hat.
CHURCHILL: So I am, young chap. Could I interest you in a cigar?
NIXON: Sure, I think I smoke cigars ... maybe ... I don't know.
(CHURCHILL hands a cigar to NIXON, who bites off the tip and lights it.)
NIXON: We were probably alive at the same time.
CHURCHILL: Indeed, my boy, indeed. I had something to do with World War II and I think maybe you fought in it.
NIXON: I'm not sure if I did.
CHURCHILL: There's not that much more about me that everyone knows.
NIXON: I once held up my hands and formed two peace signs. I was either about to get onto a plane or get off of one.
CHURCHILL: I have seen the photo, because I think there were cameras when I was alive.
NIXON: And what about Watergate? I did that.
CHURCHILL: Margaret Thatcher is someone else from England. She was leader after me.
NIXON: People can buy masks of my face.

Abraham Lincoln and Hitler
HITLER: Kill the Jews.
ABE: Free the slaves.
HITLER: Kill everyone, especially the Jews. Nazis are the best.
ABE: Emancipation Proclamation.
HITLER: Mein Kampf.
ABE: Four score and seven years ago.
HITLER: Kill all Jews!
ABE: I was shot in the head at a play, because the Civil War made people from the South angry.
HITLER: I created Nazis.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Funny Student Exam Answers

Found a post about funny student exam answers that professors had gotten. Most of them are math related, but still hilarious.

Most of my students don't even try the funny stuff, their answers are just funny because of misspellings or misunderstandings, etc. Here is an example of what I am talking about from Funny Exam Answers:

Later, the Pilgrims crossed the ocean, and this was called Pilgrim's Progress. The winter of 1620 was a hard one for the settlers. Many people died and many babies were born. Captain John Smith was responsible for all this.

Of course, when I read these types of answers I have to wonder if I really wasn't clear enough, or if something else was going on that day that distracted the student. The student answer that really made me question what I was doing in the classroom however - was the student that claimed France had bombed Pearl Harbor starting World War II. FRANCE?!?!

*sigh* I am glad it is summer.