Monthly Archives: July 2012

Learning without teachers: “The Doubting Game” versus “The Believing Game”

Back in the early 1970s, the college writing classroom was a touchy-feely environment, occasionally subject to instruction through experiential events called “happenings,” which were basically instances of hippie-era performance art. In a “happening,” students engaged in random, unorganized activities like flicking the classroom … Continue reading

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Who writes the songs that make the whole world sing? (Barry Manilow, for one)

Walking on the treadmill earlier today, I kept skimming through my iPod to pick out whatever suited my workout fancy of the moment.  At one point I idly wondered whether the song I was listening to had been written by the … Continue reading

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The making of a “reader”

Are “readers” born, or are they made? If they are “born” then no amount of instruction is going to make a difference.  But assuming a reader is “made,” how can schools best accomplish that objective?  In 1955 readability expert Rudolf Flesch published … Continue reading

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“Westworld” (Boy, have we got a vacation for you!)

Over the weekend my older daughter and I watched Westworld.  Again 🙂 Although we always enjoy this film for the story itself, we also get a kick out of deconstructing its “high tech” symbolism and noting anachronisms and things so commonplace … Continue reading

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Success through failure

The “Review” section of yesterday’s Wall Street Journal contained an interesting short article by Ken Bain, titled “Flummoxed by Failure – or Focused,” which was primarily about the un-fixed nature of intelligence.  Most people are just about as smart as … Continue reading

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Creativity, “Mr. Patent,” Keith Richards, and me

Following up on yesterday’s post on “Creativity and the importance of routine,” here is a link to a Fast Company article I recall reading ten years ago.  Titled “Mr. Patent,” it profiles Marvin Johnson, a research fellow at Phillips Petroleum … Continue reading

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Creativity and the importance of routine

One of my favorite writers is Flannery O’Connor, a Southerner who lived and wrote for most of her life on a farm in rural Georgia.  Possibly you’ve never read her, or maybe you read one of her stories once and wound … Continue reading

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Fun with the Periodic Table (and math)

What is it about the Periodic Table that inspires so many take-offs? Look at all these fun makeovers: The Periodic Table of Typefaces The Periodic Table song, “The Elements,” by my favorite mid-20th-century musical humorist (!) Tom Lehrer.  See it sung … Continue reading

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Barefoot summers

Driving home yesterday, we saw a woman crossing the street, barefoot and limping.  Was she hurt?  More likely, we suspected, she was reacting to the asphalt under her feet.  With the outdoor temperature hitting 100°, the street probably felt like a hot … Continue reading

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Thoughts on “Blade Runner” thirty years later

I recently joined a LinkedIn group called “World Cinema Critics” to be part of a community engaged in serious film discussions.  Lately we’ve had a comment thread going on the subject of Blade Runner, a movie I hadn’t seen since its theatrical release … Continue reading

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