succumbing to peer pressure

Thursday, May 08, 2008

More Odds-n-Ends

The lovely and talented Kate has been published! Or, perhaps more accurately, will be published in September when this anthology from Morrigan Books comes out. Be sure to buy a copy.

Acting like a runner
Around noon today, as I sat on my deck, alternating between plowing through the first 50 pages of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and staring up at the bright blue sky, I decided that I just really didn't feel like going to work. Luckily for me, Kathy provided the perfect rationalization. Apparently a rule of thumb for runners is to take off the number of days following a race equal to half the distance of the race. So after a half-marathon you take a week off, after a full marathon you take two weeks. Not sure how long of a race a dissertation proposal translates into, but that's definitely going to be my excuse for the odd day off now and then.

My university organizes monthly dinners for all the graduate students with my particular fellowship, and tonight was the overlap dinner, where the incoming fellows meet the outgoing. It's a pretty cool idea. Tonight the discussion turned to pedagogy, which isn't something we talk much about in my department. In my limited experience, math/stat people who are willing to teach are so few and far between, not much thought is given to whether or not they're actually any good at teaching. We have one course that's called "How to Teach Biostatistics" but, at least when I took it, there still wasn't any discussion of pedagogy. There was some strategizing about handling difficult students, and some sharing of interesting examples, but nothing about structuring homework and exams, the order in which topics are covered, the way topics are explained.

Realizing tonight that I was completely in the minority in my lack of formal training, and being the sort of person that I am, I'm trying to figure out how to get more structured coverage of pedagogy into my program. I'm thinking of reaching out to math, econ, poli sci, psych, and soc departments at my university. They all have to teach stats - surely at least one of them discusses teaching methods with their grad students, right? I've picked up a few excellent tips from the lovely Heebie-Geebie, but any and all additional suggestions would be most welcome. What sort of resources are out there? Books, journals, websites, courses? I'm not aware of anything within my various professional organizations, but I'm not up on the education literature. Basically all of my knowledge of teaching techniques is from living with AWB, so I inherently associate pedagogy with the humanities. Surely someone out there is developing it for the math/science set, right?

Word to your mother
Who knew the original meaning of Mother's Day? I surely didn't, but thankfully, Sybil Vane over at BitchPhD has the details: Mother's Day was originally envisioned as an opportunity for anti-war activism. Vane also has what will be going in my Mom's Mother's Day card this year:
What I want for Mother's Day is some demonstration that the adult-ish people to whom my mothering matters (which is currently only my husband as our daughter is young) have reflected on what it means to try to mother with intelligence, grace, courage, and kindness in this historical moment. I want a recognition that I am under-served by social and business policies that do not value the work I do as a mother, and that I am under-served by the sentimentalization of motherhood. I want awareness that while the domestic labor I do is unpaid, it is not, de facto, my labor and has very little to do with mothering. I want conscious decisions to value the social and political influence of mothering, and commitments to increasing the visibility of the ways mother's are disenfranchised.

For my own part, I will try to give these things to my mom. I will think hard about the obstacles she overcame, the work she quietly and sometimes invisibly balanced and the sacrifices she made, in particular the ways that she shouldn't have needed to make them. I will promise to do my part to make those sacrifices less necessary for my own daughter, should she decide to be a mother herself. I will try to show my mom that I recognize what she did and the fights she had to do them how she wanted.


Anonymous Katey said...

Oooh linked! Weeee, evil short stories about insanity.

Good note about Mother's day. I didn't see it before yesterday, of course, being all out of town, but that is strangely close to the course my conversation with my mother took. In particular about the sacrifices she's made and how I don't have to now. But how she never should've had to.

1:15 PM  

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