Education
Another Week Ends: Little League Love, Excellent Sheep, Normal Thoughts, Memoir Distance, Lees of Memory, Leftovers and TMNT

Another Week Ends: Little League Love, Excellent Sheep, Normal Thoughts, Memoir Distance, Lees of Memory, Leftovers and TMNT

1. First off, grab the kleenbox box because here’s a beautiful instance of grace in practice. It comes to us from little league coach Dave Belisle, whose Cumberland American team (Rhode Island) lost the championship game to Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West. In their moment of defeat, Coach Belisle gave the following speech:

2. Looking through our archive this past month, clearly two subjects have been occupying the (hive-)mind: education and suicide. The Atlantic ran an interview this week with lead Ivy League critic William Deresiewicz about his new book Excellent Sheep, and if he’s not backing off, then neither will we….

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Another Week Ends: Cosmopolitans, Accepting Feedback, Instagram Envy, Ideology Trumping Art, Hawaii Sucks, Muggles, and Mudbloods

Another Week Ends: Cosmopolitans, Accepting Feedback, Instagram Envy, Ideology Trumping Art, Hawaii Sucks, Muggles, and Mudbloods

1. While we try to stay away from plugging anything too exuberantly, and Lord knows TV/movie recs can make one less likely to watch, not more, still – writer/director Whit Stillman is coming out with a new show on Amazon, Cosmopolitans, which sounds like a not-so-veiled reference to his acclaimed feature debut about young WASP life in NYC. Vanity Fair this week got a preview of the pilot, and TV snobs will be heartened to know that Stillman cited Everybody Loves Raymond and Desperate Housewives as favorites. Cautiously optimistic, Stillman said that even if the show doesn’t get picked up, he’s happy to have just a pilot: “I really feel that…

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Another Week Ends: Overrated Successes, Disappointing Babies, Nostalgia for Human Error, Impossible Repayment and Technocrat Baseball

Another Week Ends: Overrated Successes, Disappointing Babies, Nostalgia for Human Error, Impossible Repayment and Technocrat Baseball

1. William Deresiewicz’s clickbaity “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League” draws in high-achievers and their parents to, well, pull the rug out from under them. Apologies for the lengthy quotes, but it’s very good, ht MB:

These enviable youngsters appear to be the winners in the race we have made of childhood. But the reality is very different, as I have witnessed in many of my own students and heard from the hundreds of young people whom I have spoken with on campuses or who have written to me over the last few years. Our system of elite education manufactures…

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Forget the Standard: Teaching in the Time of Testing

Forget the Standard: Teaching in the Time of Testing

It is now five years since the Common Core State Standards were introduced, the newest governmental answer to educational plight in America, and still it seems that no one really knows what they are—and if they do know what they are, chances are they don’t like them. It has been called (critically) a “one size fits all” policy, a nation-wide rubric for assessing whether America’s public school kids are learning what they ought to be learning. As Andrew Ferguson wrote this week in the Standard Weekly, it is one more reform scientifically stamped by the Gates Foundation’s “technocrats” and “educationists”,…

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The “Doing What You Love” Elixir

The “Doing What You Love” Elixir

Confession time: I only play pick-up basketball in gyms where the average age of those playing is well above middle-aged. I tragically got cut from the JV team my sophomore year of high school, so being on the same court as my contemporaries brings back too many unwanted memories. This preference rules out playing pick-up at my college gym. My only refuge for my ideal, quasi-geriatric hoop scene is the local YMCA where I grew up.

This particular basketball court is the mecca of mediocre basketball and varying life advice. Because a young buck like me is such a rarity there,…

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Another Week Ends: Critical Minds, Ironic Irony, Doing What You Love, Bad Moms, Superhero Funerals, Busy Status, and Episco-Pools

Another Week Ends: Critical Minds, Ironic Irony, Doing What You Love, Bad Moms, Superhero Funerals, Busy Status, and Episco-Pools

1. With a fresh flock of college graduates entering the fray this week, a number of articles have appeared taking their pulse, and the pulse of higher education in general. Writing for The NY Times, Michael Roth, president of Wesleyan University, aka Joss Whedon’s alma mater, issued some warnings about the over-development of our students’ critical faculties, a trend which naturally has implications well beyond the classroom. It’s certainly endemic to the blogosphere, for instance, both religious and otherwise. Plus, the phrase “fetishizing disbelief” strikes me as a potent one:

Liberal education in America has long been characterized by the…

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Another Week Ends: Trophy Rage, Thriving, Cave Churches, Flannery’s Freedom, Cheap Trick, and Facebook Love

Another Week Ends: Trophy Rage, Thriving, Cave Churches, Flannery’s Freedom, Cheap Trick, and Facebook Love

1. We all love The Incredibles, right? It’s as good a movie as Pixar has made, which is saying a lot (rumors of a sequel are legit!). And we all remember the rant that Bob Parr goes on in the middle of the film, when he objects to attending his son’s “graduation” from the fifth grade. “He’s merely moving from the fifth grade to the sixth grade,” Parr notes. Director Brad Bird put his finger on something that many have noticed in our culture, the rise of the “participation trophy”, where kids get prizes and acclamations just for showing up…

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Graduating From Regret

Graduating From Regret

This one comes to us from Lex Booth:

With only two more weeks of undergraduate existence left on the calendar, I can’t help but reflect on my experience in Charlottesville (and hash out some last-minute plans to squeeze out as much college as possible).  Perhaps because ”there’s still time” for me to cross a few things off the list and add a flourish or two, this exercise mostly involves lots of ‘what-if’ or ‘should have’ hypotheticals that tend to contradict each other: ‘Maybe I should have taken advantage of my classes more…’ vs. ‘Why did I spend so much time in…

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Too Great of Expectations? Being Ordinary in a Culture of Extraordinary

Too Great of Expectations? Being Ordinary in a Culture of Extraordinary

This one comes to us from Emily Newton:

Dickens had it right long before Brené Brown did, but she certainly dusts his ideas off a bit.

As an English teacher attempting to ignite within my students’ brains interest in something other than taking selfies, Yik-Yak, or lulu-lemon yoga pants, I find it important to see the value in a text myself before asking my students to read it. We recently finished reading Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, a novel which I likely Sparknote-d my way through as a freshman in high school (gasp). I just didn’t like it. So I felt a bit of trepidation as we…

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Andy Bernard to Give Graduation Speech at Cornell University … Ever Heard of It?

Andy Bernard to Give Graduation Speech at Cornell University … Ever Heard of It?

It has been a Mockingbird tradition to highlight worthy graduation speeches amidst the vast sea of snoozers. As the spring commencement season approaches, I want to point out that Ed Helms, the actor who played Andy Bernard on The Office, will be giving a speech at Cornell University’s graduation on May 24. This is noteworthy because Andy Bernard, the sycophantic airhead with anger-management issues, always brags about how he went to Cornell (’93). “Ever heard of it?”

Helm’s upcoming speech is bound to go at least semi-viral just by his showing up at Cornell. But it’s even more likely to go viral…

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An Introduction to the Excessive World of The Mockingbird

An Introduction to the Excessive World of The Mockingbird

This letter from the editor opens up our first issue of The Mockingbird, our quarterly magazine which has just arrived in mailboxes! To subscribe to The Mockingbird, click here. 

“Tell me which kinds of excesses fascinate you, tell me which kinds of excesses appall you, and I will tell you who you are.” –Adam Phillips, “In Excess”

If Phillips is right, and excesses are the ways we are revealed, then there’s plenty to say about what’s been passing through my Newsfeed. Just this week: Kanye West commissions a Kim Kardashian pop-art portrait from one of Andy Warhol’s cousins in Arizona….

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Scripting Others: Stephen Covey on Imputation?

Scripting Others: Stephen Covey on Imputation?

Despite my instincts to steer clear of self help literature, I recently read Stephen R. Covey’s classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Can anything good come from the self help genre? To my surprise, yes, especially this excerpted section below on “Scripting Others” from Habit 7: Sharpening the Saw (basically, self care). In the following section he talks about something akin to imputation—the act of attributing to someone a trait not otherwise natural to themselves.

At some time in your life, you probably had someone believe in you when you didn’t believe in yourself. They scripted you. Did that…

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Under Pressure on Modern Family

I was recently thinking how ABC’s Modern Family just isn’t as good as it used to be (for me) and that I kind of watch it out of duty nowadays. And then, BAM! They produce probably one of their better/best episodes ever. It revolves around high school anxieties, SATs, and college admissions: “Under Pressure.” The theme is certainly timely since this is the time of year many high schoolers start hearing back from college and university admissions offices. The unquestionable hero of this episode? Claire Dunphy. You have to watch the entire clip below to find out why:

Another Year Ends: Best Teacher Ever, Instagram Envy, Tyson on Kierkegaard, Elf Code Origins, Johnny Football, DFW Cobainification, Atheist Gospel

Another Year Ends: Best Teacher Ever, Instagram Envy, Tyson on Kierkegaard, Elf Code Origins, Johnny Football, DFW Cobainification, Atheist Gospel

1. Grab your kleenex, cause here comes the one way love, ht JZ:

2. The NY Times lobbed one straight over the plate last Sunday with “The Agony of Instagram,” a look into “an online culture where the ethic is impress, rather than confess.” It’s fairly one-sided of course–Instagram is just as much an outlet for inspiration and creativity as it is identity curation and law–but still, a few of the soundbites are just too tempting not to reproduce:

For many urban creative professionals these days, it’s not unusual to scroll through one’s Instagram feed and feel suffocated by fabulousness: There’s…

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You Won’t Deserve to Be Here

You Won’t Deserve to Be Here

Last week, an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education spread like wildfire through Facebook News Feeds. That doesn’t happen very often.

The article, a commentary by Kevin Carey entitled “Welcome, Freshmen. You Don’t Deserve to Be Here,” begins at Stanford University’s freshman convocation. We can sense that the freshman are nervous about matriculating to such a mythical institution. Maybe, after meeting their brilliant, fellow freshmen, they are wondering whether they have what it takes or whether the admissions office improperly evaluated them. So the dean stands before the freshman and attempts to comfort them with these words: “”We have made…

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