From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


One year ago on Round and Square (19 September 2011)—Remonstrance: Unanimity and its Discontents
[a] Quirk quirk RF
Why would a teacher post assignments publicly? Aren't they usually just quirky enough to open her to criticism, quibbling, or even rebuke? The safety of the classroom is precious, and students usually do their work without so much as a peep of remonstrance. It is a beautiful thing, classroom privacy. Why would anyone mess with it?

Well...while I do appreciate the little professorial enclave, I think that teachers should connect with their peers just as much as researchers should. When professors engage in research, "connection" is—of course—the entire point. Getting stuff out there and having it engaged and critiqued is the entire point. I think teaching materials should work in similar ways. To be sure, it is a little bit different. A class is its own small cultural unit, and outsiders often cannot understand from a single scrap of paper (or blog post) the dynamics of the teacher-student relationship and what exactly is happening in those three or four hours a week of interaction. A syllabus and a cluster of assignments are an inadequate archive, but I still think that we should share more, and not less.
[b] Classroom RF

That is the spirit of this series of posts. 

Criticize if you want, but I will surely push back. I assign a whole passel of books to read, as well as a small mountain (小山) of writing. I believe that all of my teaching is "about" two things (far more than the titles of the courses imply): learning to read and learning to write. No one ever masters these, and I try to make my syllabi and assignments push both my students and myself to new levels with these basic skills. I have been at these tasks for thirty years in the world of higher education...and I am still working on them just as carefully as Larry Bird ever shot free-throws, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar worked on post plays, or Archie Manning threw out patterns to tires hanging from trees.

Fundamentals. Assignments are about that.

I have experimented with just about everything that I have found useful in my own work, and I will begin posting some of them as they appear (and reappear) in my teaching. It also saves paper, and is difficult to lose (if I had a nickel for every time I sent a .pdf file of a lost assignment...I'd have...well, a few dollars). Nonetheless, do not mistake me. I am not just posting them for the convenience of my students or even myself. 

I think that we should share our assignments.  

Just as with research results, there might be room for quibbling. Well, quibble away. Write me at This is professional activity. Teaching deserves that.
[c] Open RF

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