April 23, 2020

"In my teaching, I’ve always used the Socratic method, which means calling on dozens of students during the class hour, and engaging them in dialogue with me and with each other."

"I’ve found that this is not harder to do on Zoom, and in some respects it’s easier, and better. Facial expressions are closer and more legible. The difference in volume between those who speak loudly and those who respond quietly is minimized. Students seem less self-conscious and less intimidated than they did in a room of a hundred people, perhaps because speaking on a screen doesn’t feel too different from FaceTime conversations they’re used to having with friends... [T]he give-and-take of the one-on-one exchange feels both urgent and viable. There’s something strangely more intimate about online teaching, which makes the attention to each student feel more live and personalized, not less. This new intimacy surely has something to do with the change of setting, which has afforded glimpses into home life and has meant some erosion of strict divisions between professional and personal, between public and private. As my class studied the Supreme Court’s doctrine on the privacy of the bedroom, they could see each other onscreen sitting in bedrooms.... In the past, like many female professors, I have probably expended extra energy holding up boundaries to keep signs of vulnerability at bay. During this period, though... it’s possible that the relaxing of appearances humanizes these institutions.... We might think of our online efforts as mere shadows of the real thing. But those performances are also heightening our senses for teaching and learning. The breaking through of imperfection, messiness, sadness, and struggle might bring us all to a different appreciation of our own humanity, showing through the screen."

From "Finding Real Life in Teaching Law Online" by Harvard lawprof Jeannie Suk Gersen (in The New Yorker).

This is the teacher's experience of becoming more vulnerable on camera. Not all teachers are going to be so sanguine about the exposure — the close-up photography of the face, the view into one's own home. And then what of the students, who have far less control over the discussion, and, usually, much more confined living space? Socratic discussion can be stressful for the students, and now every other student is looking right into their face, ready to detect twinges of fear and realization of knowledge gaps and able to make screen shots.

As for the similarity to FaceTime... not only is it FaceTime with a whole huge group, there shouldn't be an assumption that everyone is comfortable doing FaceTime conversations. Some people hate FaceTime.

Anyway, I'm glad Gersen is finding the good in what is a necessary substitute for the real thing, but she's leaning toward saying it is the real thing — the real thing plus, better than the cold, hierarchical classroom. We thought we were distancing, but really, we were becoming so much more intimate....

129 comments:

Dave Begley said...

"In the past, like many female professors, I have probably expended extra energy holding up boundaries to keep signs of vulnerability at bay."

Ann: What does this mean? Translate, please.

rehajm said...

You join a Zoom meeting with a skull full of mush...

n.n said...

The irony of social distancing engendering social intimacy, physical isolation, and privacy violations.

tcrosse said...

It's early days, so master and student haven't learned yet how to green-screen their backgrounds rather than showing their bedrooms.

Laslo Spatula said...

It also makes it much easier to record and collect all musings, teachers and students both. More bodies for the Cancellation Pyres.

Also: depending on the set-up, you can look up-close at the hot chicks when they answer, and the hot chick doesn't even know she's being watched so intently.

Like, when she's in thought and biting the end of a pencil: you can add that to your personal file collection, as opposed to a brief shaky memory from a furtive dim glimpse.

You can then play back the images and freeze-frame at the best moments.

Cam Girls without the nudity.

I am Laslo.

Temujin said...

A tipping point in the multi-billion dollar industry known as higher education? Want a way to drop the costs by 50-60% and still offer those prized degrees?

If you're a student, would you prefer to accrue $200,000 in student loan debt so that you can go to classes live, play all week, smoke as much pot as you like, and sign multiple contracts to have sex with other students? Perhaps some would.

If you're a parent, would you like the thought of your son or daughter staying home another 4-6 years while taking classes online during the day and going out to play all night? Perhaps that $65,000/year to send them off is worth it after all?

A lot to consider. Maybe trade schools can make a comeback now.

Ficta said...

" the view into one's own home". Nearly everyone just turns on the virtual background in Zoom, works like a charm.

Original Mike said...

I hate FaceTime. There's something creepy about it. It's nothing like talking to someone in person.

Original Mike said...

Is Zoom still reporting back to Facebook?

Sebastian said...

"necessary substitute for the real thing"

Necessary, why? To my knowledge not a single law student anywhere has been affected with Chinese Lung AIDS.

Why did we close K-12, colleges, and law schools again?

buwaya said...

The idea that personality should not matter in teaching law is absurd.
Success in life requires development of a dominant personality, or of a competitive one at least. You must be able to argue, win, and impose your will.

This all is not about protecting mousy academics. These law schools are supposedly training advocates and magistrates, and statesmen too, successors of Caesar and Cicero, those who can of their own magnetism and charisma hold the attention of the forum.

buwaya said...

One has to assume it is mainly about protecting 50-70-ish professors.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann: What does this mean? Translate, please."

Just before my elision, she wrote, "I have openly acknowledged feeling fear and distress, and recognized my students’ fear and distress, melting the professional and emotional distance that teaching law normally entails."

Anyway, I think what she is saying is that many women feel that the students are less accepting of their power and authority, that they are regarded as softer and more accessible, more emotional and inclined toward nurturing and support. You don't actually know what the students are thinking, so some of that is your own self-doubt or your own genuine sensitivity and empathy, which you think could signal to students that they can be disrespectful to you in and out of the classroom or that they won't listen to you or regard you as a valuable source of wisdom and instruction.

You get some real experiences with students that reinforce these feelings: Students that come to you with their personal problems (this never happened to me, but I've heard about it), students attempting to get undeserved sympathetic treatment (time extensions, changed grades, no consequences for absences), and somewhat inappropriate conversations. In the last category, the thing that was most clear to me was the way some students (male students) would come up after class and instead of asking questions or speaking to me like a student to a teacher would start lecturing me about the material as though the felt the need to enact a fiction in which they were the teacher and I was their student.

MadisonMan said...

A teacher who thinks her students have unlimited bandwidth. I never turn my camera on for telecons. I don't have the bandwidth to stream out and receive in.

Nonapod said...

If anything good comes of all this, I hope it accelerates the adoption and normalization of online learning. It just makes so much sense for a number of reasons.

Not all teachers are going to be so sanguine about the exposure — the close-up photography of the face, the view into one's own home

I suppose they could choose to use digital avatars if they're that self conscious. How about an cartoon image of a nine armed squid for example.

buwaya said...

If someone is unwilling to speak up in class, and argue with others in a spirit of joyful aggression, they should probably reconsider this profession, and many others too I think. That is the point of this Socratic business, to train youths in argument.

A university is, in large part, valuable because it is a practice battlefield. The stidents should be encouraged to gnaw on each other, to sharpen their teeth.

Nonapod said...

In the last category, the thing that was most clear to me was the way some students (male students) would come up after class and instead of asking questions or speaking to me like a student to a teacher would start lecturing me about the material as though the felt the need to enact a fiction in which they were the teacher and I was their student.

Was this a very common problem? And did such male students only behave that way with female professors?

fleg9bo said...

Every Trump-supporting student should remember to put a post-it on his computer screen reminding him to take down the Nazi flag hanging on the wall behind him before logging in.

Sebastian said...

"These law schools are supposedly training advocates and magistrates, and statesmen too, successors of Caesar and Cicero, those who can of their own magnetism and charisma hold the attention of the forum."

Like Joe Biden, successor of Caesar and Cicero.

buwaya said...

Perhaps everyone should be encouraged to wear Greek chitons and sandals. Show off those pudgy (or knobby) hairy legs.

This is a battle of mind and will. What does vanity and neuroticism have to do with it? These are weaknesses that should be purged in the course of education.

mikee said...

Max Headroom needs to be a participant in every online class.

buwaya said...

The boys that try to argue with the professor are doing it right.
This is human.
They are challenging the master. Its up to the master to show them their errors, and that they still have something to learn.

You were training warriors.

Ann Althouse said...

Not all law graduates become trial lawyers. Most don't. And the ones who do don't act like the lawyers on TV and in the movies. You can be a low-key or introverted person and find much of the work suitable to your personality. There are many different kinds of lawyer jobs, and it would be a mistake to avoid law school just because you don't act like a big aggressive asshole or whatever your stereotype of a lawyer is.

I taught law school for more than 30 years, and I don't remember any students behaving in class in a loudmouth, overbearing, egomanical fashion. Not one person on one day. They were, for the most part, polite and earnest and trying to learn the material and modest about taking up class time. It was hard to get them to argue about anything. It was rare for a student to come across as argumentative in any sort of heated up way.

Lucien said...

You want fear and distress, try appearing before a federal judge who is a known asshole when your client has decided to take a cavalier approach to answering discovery. There are no safe spaces.

Ann Althouse said...

"The boys that try to argue with the professor are doing it right."

Who are you talking about? The young men that I said would adopt a posture of lecturing me. I wanted them to argue with me during class. That would have been great, but that is not what I am describing. They would not perform during class but would come up after class and do a lecturing mode of speaking to me that was disrespectful.

And they were not boys. They were all adults, 21 and older.

Ann Althouse said...

@buwaya

I don't know if you went to law school and if so where, but you are describing what to me is a fantasy world, something from the movies.

trumpetdaddy said...

Sounds like a bunch of dudes who didn't have the balls to defend their position in class, where they might be shown up as wrong by you. But thought they could intimidate you one-on-one with no crowd around. Sad.

buwaya said...

" It was hard to get them to argue about anything. "

I believe you.
This seems to me to be a very sad state of affairs.
A lack of spirit, a disinterest, possibly a crabbed credentialism.

The problem is not just in law, but any academic subject in the Liberal Arts as well.
Per my daughter nobody wants to fight about history either, or sociology, or anything else.

buwaya said...

I went to engineering school, and an MBA program later.

In these we did argue. The MBA guys generally came with considerable experience and we had at it in class re ethics, business strategy, finance (lots were finance pros who had strong opinions), even accounting.

One generally has no argument to make in thermodynamics of course. Usually.

Josephbleau said...

"I taught law school for more than 30 years, and I don't remember any students behaving in class in a loudmouth, overbearing, egomanical fashion. Not one person on one day. They were, for the most part, polite and earnest and trying to learn the material and modest about taking up class time. It was hard to get them to argue about anything. It was rare for a student to come across as argumentative in any sort of heated up way."

But this was in Wisconsin, was NYU different?

curt said...

Sorry, Laslo, there is basically no such thing as a “hot chick” at any law school. The few who have the temerity to apply are ruthlessly weeded out by the mostly female admissions staffers.

William said...

She's trying to make lemonade. She's got the lemons, but the water is supplied by Flint and there's no sugar. Zoom classes are not a substitute for the the real thing. Students learn as much from other students as from the teachers.

Nonapod said...

Psycologically there's a significant difference between aggressively challenging or attempting to lecture a teacher during a class versus after class. Obviously there's a far greater risk of humiliation when you challenge a teacher in front of the other students, your peers.

There's also the issue of tone in general. As a student who is trying to actually learn, I don't think it necessarily always benefits you to take an adversarial position with your teacher when you think you have a valid disagreement or whatever.

buwaya said...

Our MBA program, in the main a "night school" for employed students, many sponsored by their employers, had a surfeit of hot chicks, or, rather, very attractive women. Our lot was >60% women. Ambitious, impressive. I dated a couple of them.

Darkisland said...

It sounds like schools are trying to do online classes the same as meatspace classes.

Southern New Hampshire University (snhu) has been doing distance education at the undergrad and graduate levels since at least the 80s.online since the 90s.

I taught meatspace classes at a satellite campus in Roosevelt Roads from 82-04. When Roosey closed, they invited me to teach online in the mba program.

First, I had to complete a rather extensive training, online, in how to use Blackboard. Istr it took about 4 weeks.

Classes used a variety of Blackboard features such as a group blog. Every student expected to make at least 2 substantive posts per week. Not, here's a cool article but here's an article and this is why it is cool. And each student was supposed to make 2 substantive blog comments per week on other students posts.

Most weeks there was a case study to be evalusted by each student in 1000 words. In operations management it might be a math problem "develop an inventory orderin schedule for Joe's Fine Furniture"

And so on. I had a lot of leeway on which cases, or in guiding the blog but they were requirements imposed by the school.

I had students from all over the world including, that I recall, china, russia, scotland, vietnam as well as perhaps 75% from the us.

There is no way using webex, teams, skype or the like to do video classes would have worked. Even if the technology had been available.

John Henry

tcrosse said...

Any Eddie Haskells at UW Law?

J. Farmer said...

@Ann Althouse:

Did you see the film The Paper Chase and if so, what was your reaction?

I'm always interested in how much knowledge of a topic can interfere with suspension of disbelief in enjoying a movie. I've found myself scoffing a lot at movies that depict forensic psychology or social work, and it's an impulse that bugs me.

Owen said...

buwaya @2:51: “ One generally has no argument to make in thermodynamics of course. Usually.”. LOL.

J. Farmer said...

I was lucky to have a master/apprentice relationship with my old business partner, and I learned infinitely more from that than I ever did at university. He was a vicious and aggressive, and we spent many hours in a car together sparring.

Darkisland said...

some students (male students) would come up after class and instead of asking questions or speaking to me like a student to a teacher would start lecturing me about the material

Prior to online this would happen to me in class rather than after.

Most of my students worked full time. I taught operations management to people who had been working in industry for years and were plant managers, quality directors, purchssing managers.

I once had a labor lawyer in my labor relations class.

I in the 80s I got roped into teaching a course in database management. I knew practically nothing about them at the time but everyone else knew even less.

One of mt students was a Navy Captain. CO of the Comm Station. She had worked for Ross Perot in the 60s,decided to join the navy and along the way gotten a phd in computer science. She later became an admiral then retired to a cto job in a defense contractor

Talk about intimidating!

But she was very nice. I'd get myself impossibly out on a limb, she'd raise her hand and say "I think what you meant to say was.." and then spend 5 minutes untangling the mess I'd made of the topic.

John

gilbar said...

Temujin said...
A tipping point in the multi-billion dollar industry known as higher education? Want a way to drop the costs by 50-60% and still offer those prized degrees?


currently, government workers, and university staff folk seem MOST enthusiastic about the lockdown
It seems to me, that THEY are the fools. If/When the country ever gets going again...
Will we need welders, factory workers, drivers? These WERE the jobs that were going obsolete
Will we need Professors, DOT clerks, deans of diversity? These are the jobs that ARE going obsolete

WHY would you ever pay $20,000/yr to go to Ames or Madison EVER again?

Birkel said...

I tried to tell people about lessons that have been forgotten.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/22/world/africa/coronavirus-hunger-crisis.html

It would appear the lessons must be lived.

Birkel said...

Another lesson people are going to learn:

https://nypost.com/2020/04/22/nyc-politicians-havent-begun-to-face-facts-about-coronavirus-fiscal-crisis/

TANSTAAFL

Freeman Hunt said...

A chemistry professor friend hung green material behind her desk and uses it as a green screen to insert a background.

narciso said...

good grief

Wince said...

rehajm said...
You join a Zoom meeting with a skull full of mush...

Image Kingsfield saying, "Here's a dime, Zoom your mother."

Darkisland said...

Here's my office

https://youtu.be/BhNPSJvtZn4


John Henry

Rory said...

"In the last category, the thing that was most clear to me was the way some students (male students) would come up after class and instead of asking questions or speaking to me like a student to a teacher would start lecturing me about the material as though the felt the need to enact a fiction in which they were the teacher and I was their student."

You're supposed to lecture back, neither of you listening to the other. That's how the bond is formed.

Dave Begley said...

Men and women law professors are different. I learned that for a fact when I was at Creighton Law School. Two of my male professors had sexual affairs with female law students. One Big Ten law professor after a guest lecture tried to pick up two of my female law school classmates. At the same time! I guess he wanted a threesome. And one of them was newly married!! The law prof wasn't from Wisconsin.

Readering said...

Can't imagine that her socratic method included interacting with dozens of students in an hour. Nothing would be taught.

rcocean said...

"In the last category, the thing that was most clear to me was the way some students (male students) would come up after class and instead of asking questions or speaking to me like a student to a teacher would start lecturing me about the material as though the felt the need to enact a fiction in which they were the teacher and I was their student."

Mansplaining the material to the Professor - after class. LOL! What did Althouse do? I hope you kicked them in the ball (figuratively). Of course, they saved it for AFTER class, otherwise they might have been shot down and embarrassed. They sound like Gammas.

Of course, in THEIR minds, they probably thought they were doing Althouse a favor, but not showing her up in class.

rcocean said...

I liked most of my college professors - but then i didn't go to law school or the Ivy League. I had a few left-wingers, including one member of Communist Party USA, but they kept their Left-wing rants for after class.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Especially for adult and part time students, the time overhead of going to a few classes each day in person is considerable, especially if the classess they take are separated by one or more periods.

Dave Begley said...

Readering:

At Creighton, the profs mostly questioned 1-3 students per class with one professor (Darth Volkmer) drilling down on you the entire time. Best professor ever!

Kai Akker said...

less intimidated
urgent and viable
strangely more intimate
holding up boundaries
mere shadows of the real thing
imperfection, messiness, sadness, and struggle


A lot going on there. And that's not even getting into the privacy of the bedroom stuff. Law school sounds cool.

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

You think you're so cratic, but maybe you're not as cratic as you think.

narciso said...

no good deed does unpunished

Churchy LaFemme: said...

You're so cratic you probably think this dialogue is about you!

Kevin said...

Socratic discussion can be stressful for the students

Thank goodness they'll never be in a courtroom answering important, time-sensitive questions from a judge.

Kevin said...

Sorry, Laslo, there is basically no such thing as a “hot chick” at any law school. The few who have the temerity to apply are ruthlessly weeded out by the mostly female admissions staffers.

It's so uncommon they made a movie about it happening.

Sebastian said...

Birkel: "Another lesson . . ."

"Of a projected $66 billion in tax revenue for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts July 1, the city, based on job and ­income losses, is likely to see a loss of more than $10 billion, twice as bad as after the financial crisis, even after accounting for inflation, and far more than any elected official is estimating."

Oh, that's just temporary. No prob. V bounce.

As economic experts on this very blog have assured us.

So what's the lesson again?

Kevin said...

How hosting a blog is like teaching law school:

You get some real experiences with [commenters] that reinforce these feelings: [Commenters] that come to you with their personal problems (this never happened to me, but [Drago seems to think most people here have personal problems]), [commenters] attempting to get undeserved sympathetic treatment ([personal responses], [quotes taken out of context], no consequences for [major infractions of the commenting rules even though warned time and again], and [pointedly] inappropriate conversations [because they hide behind an alias, or several].

Yancey Ward said...

I am more of the opinion of William in this regard, and I think most college classes are a waste of money, but probably not classes at this level. My impression of this essay is that this professor is probably failing to teach to the level she did before COVID-19, but is too afraid to say so. She feels the need to put lipstick on this fat and ugly hog.

Yancey Ward said...

"Sorry, Laslo, there is basically no such thing as a “hot chick” at any law school."

I thought Reese Witherspoon was pretty damned hot. Oh, wait.....that wasn't real. Nevermind.

Spiros said...

The Socratic method is more like hazing than anything else. I think that's fine, but I'd like to see more small-group instruction and real life clinics in law schools...

(Similar teaching methods are employed in medical schools. But over there, it's known as "pimping." What a colorful and odd term!)

Mark said...

BAAH reporter -- "No good news allowed!!"

Eleanor said...

Most online teaching isn't done in real time. Students who take online courses are looking for the freedom to go to class on their own schedule, It's rare for a professor to hold a class with immediate interaction with the students.

Readering said...

Dave Begley: same for me. I didn't go to The Harvard Law School, but imagine it the same. Even Kingsfield doesn't call on lots (and he is my vintage).

Mark said...

The questioning/discussion method is good pedagogy when done right and well. The problem is that so many who use it do NOT do it right or well.

It's like questioning a witness. You need to let people know they are on the right track and lead them to the water, not into the desert. At some point in teaching, you need to stop the game and show the hidden ball and come out and say when someone has hit upon the right answer.

chuck said...

the view into one's own home.

A refrigerator in the background covered with family pictures is always a nice touch.

Mark said...

EBAH reporter tries to kill any and all good news.

stevew said...

Lawyers and law students are so much more neurotic about this FaceTime/Zoom/Skype world we find ourselves in. I'm in sales, a senior leadership position, and I will report I and my org members are having a good old time with all this video chat meeting engagement. This is a face to face, stand and deliver crowd no matter the medium. There is no more angst nor anguish to be experienced from the video version of our meetings.

Mark said...

Sorry, Laslo, there is basically no such thing as a “hot chick” at any law school.

What????

Either you need to get out more or I have to wonder what "team" you play for. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Francisco D said...

rehajm said...You join a Zoom meeting with a skull full of mush...

I suspect that Prof. Kingsfield would be less intimidating and lees effective with Zoom.

My prep school used the Socratic method, but the teachers were gentle so as not to offend the dumb rich kids whose parents supported the school. It certainly prepared me well for college.

Yancey Ward said...

"A refrigerator in the background covered with family pictures is always a nice touch."

What you want to avoid is accidentally capturing the large black dildo you left on the coffee table the night before.

Mark said...

You probably think there is great peril in Castle Anthrax, don't you?

Clark said...

Mark update:
Hover over the name and you should be able to see the url of "Mark"'s profile.
Look at the second to the last digit. If it is a 5 it is Lib Mark A. If it is a 7 it is Lib Mark B. If it is a 9 it is Mark from Virginia, or Star Trek Mark, or however you think of him. Good Mark, perhaps.

5 = Lib Mark A
7 = Lib Mark B
9 = VA Mark.

All Mark comments above are VA Mark.
That is all.

traditionalguy said...

In court we do argue motions and rulings on evidence rules to help the Judge learn the intricacies of the laws of Evidence under the most recent appellate decisions. That is where we challenge the other lawyer or the judge.

The rest of the trial we question and cross examine the witnesses quite calmly and rather polite. That part is a show for the jurors who like gravitas way more than any arrogance by a lawyer. We manly persuade the man / woman who will become the Foreman of the Jury, whom we have instinctively guessed during voir dire based on their personality and character traits that show authority.

Kai Akker said...

That raises a question.

Is Clark Mark?

Or is Mark Clark?

Maillard Reactionary said...

Original Mike @2:13 PM asked: "Is Zoom still reporting back to Facebook?"

It could be worse than that. https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1585521/000119312519083351/d642624ds1.htm

Mark said...

Phil (Speakerphone): What's that pounding?
Stan: We're using you as a hammer.
Phil: I'm part of the team!

Clark said...

"Is Clark Mark?" No way.
Hover over my name and you see a zero in the second to the last place.

Maillard Reactionary said...

The Socratic Method may work well in law school, in certain contexts at least, but I can't see it being of much help in math or physics.

Of course as buwaya notes above it is a good thing to get some practice with, even if you're an engineer. There's always going to be senior guys, or the staff guys, or the only PhD in the company, or just an ornery guy, who's going to give you a hard time, so it's good to have some practice making sure your position is justifiable or at least arguable. One reason why "STEM" majors should take a few of the traditional liberal arts courses.

I always enjoyed the back and forth with my co-workers. It helped to keep all of us sharp, or sharper. One of the charms of the engineering trade is that you can, occasionally, win an argument on the merits. We're always fighting Murphy, and the Second Law, anyway.

And when you find and fix a problem that one of those wise-assess couldn't, it's pretty sweet.

Original Mike said...

@Clark - Doesn't work on an iPad.

Original Mike said...

@Phidippus - Is their China connection in there?

Mark said...

One of the charms of the engineering trade is that you can, occasionally, win an argument on the merits.

Yeah, I'm not all that big on engineers engaging in or winning arguments. I only care that the bridge can take the weight without falling into the river. Either it can or it can't. Arguments are irrelevant.

Original Mike said...

Any engineer can design a bridge that stands up. But it takes a really good engineer to design a bridge that just barely stands up.

Butkus51 said...

Just keep using Zoom (bought the stock in January)

h said...

I taught and advised undergrads for 30 years at a large public University. Some (not very many but some) students came from very poor families: they lived with their parents instead of in dorms; they worked 20 hours a week at paying jobs (not "internships" that have a good line on the resume, but waitressing for good tips); they even chose my major because we had major specific scholarship money (of say $2000 per year). I came to realize how much my university was really aimed at upper-middle-class suburban kids: "get an internship" "do study abroad" "volunteer for on-campus organizations". But I do recognize that my personal family life experience does not include the possibility that a student won't have a computer, or a computer with a built in camera, or a high speed internet connection. I'm sure educators are committed to the concept of inclusivity for poor students, and ultimately I have confidence that methods will develop to reach out to these students. I think I read about a school system in a poor rural area where they sent buses with wifi into poor neighborhoods.

But when I read articles like this, I'm mostly reminded that I (and others like me) tend to assume that the student target audience is "just like us".

Original Mike said...

I'll only install Zoom if I have to. The Facebook thing stinks.

J. Farmer said...

@Sebastian:

So what's the lesson again?

Apparently, the lesson is your facility to construct strawman. The argument is not that it will be "no prob." The argument is that we will not face a severe depression. We have the monetary and fiscal capacity to absorb quite a big shock.

As economic experts on this very blog have assured us.

I always find it interesting when people think it's useful to mock people with different opinions for not being "experts." I would think you of all people would realize that being an "expert" doesn't make you right. Conversely, not being an expert doesn't make you wrong.

Darkisland said...

Original Mike said...

Any engineer can design a bridge that stands up. But it takes a really good engineer to design a bridge that just barely stands up

"an engineer is a person who can do for 10 shillings what any fool can do for a pound."

Nevil Shute Norway aeronautical engineer, airship and airplane designer, entrepreneur, wierd weapons wonk, author.

Amazon currently has a dozen or so of his books on sale for 0.99 to 2.99

John Henry

narciso said...

the same nevil shute who wrote on the beach, which became one of those iconic post atomic tales, like pat franks alas Babylon, or the author of canticle for liebowitz

Mark said...

The sixth one makes her first appearance.

Mark said...

It's Xena, Warrior Princess.

Mark said...

Never cared for Gem, her episode, or the torturing Mengele aliens.

jaydub said...


Mark, (one of them, don't care which one:) " I only care that the bridge can take the weight without falling into the river. Either it can or it can't. Arguments are irrelevant."

I would have loved to have had you for a client since you don't seem to care about cost.

Buwaya: “ One generally has no argument to make in thermodynamics of course. Usually.”

Except for discussions of entropy. Always.

narciso said...

what did I say

narciso said...

was that dean stockwell's character, brother cavil?

Birkel said...

When a severe (sic) depression happens, what will be the cost of being wrong?

Mark said...

"Arguments are irrelevant"

. . . you don't seem to care about cost


OK, I was wrong, argument is relevant. At least the rules regarding argument are relevant. Namely,

Non sequitur: Latin; a conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from the previous argument or statement

Mark said...

No, I don't think that was Dean Stockwell who played Xena.

If so, maybe I'm the one who's playing for the other team. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Mark said...

I'll save the covid vs. sunlight/heat/humidity discussion for the cafeteria, which is an essential business.

J. Farmer said...

When a severe (sic) depression happens, what will be the cost of being wrong?

Fortunately, the "cost" is completely independent of whether I am right or wrong. But I still appreciate you for being my biggest. Hug and kisses.

Stephen said...

As a former law prof, I've often wondered why the cost of legal education has to be so high. The combined out of pocket and opportunity costs for students at my school are probably $300,000 or more for three years, before financial aid. Toss in the costs of the bar exam, both in payments to cram courses and foregone income, at that number if probably more like $325,000 or more.

If distance learning is anywhere remotely close to the real thing in net benefits, it should be explored for its potential to reduce costs, whether for bricks and mortar, instruction, commuting time, you name it.

Also, eliminate the third year of law school--clearly not justified on a cost benefit basis!

I'd also like to second what Professor Althouse said about male law students' reaction to women instructors. Several of my female colleagues experienced the exact kind of lack of respect from younger male students that she described. My observation was that the problem was greater if the female teacher was younger, more conventionally attractive, and/or presented as "nicer." I also had the sense that the problem was worse when I started teaching in the 1980s than it is now, perhaps because there are many more female faculty members, perhaps because of changes in the wider culture. But that perception may simply reflect that I am not as close to the younger instructors now on the faculty as I was with those who were my contemporaries.

Birkel said...

Spending OPM is the best kind of spending.

J. Farmer said...

I'll save the covid vs. sunlight/heat/humidity discussion for the cafeteria, which is an essential business.

Haven't been following the coverage, why is this coming up now? John Nicholls made this claim back in early February.

Mark said...

Task force briefing.

J. Farmer said...

Spending OPM is the best kind of spending.

Never failing to miss a point by a mile.

Mark said...

And D'Anna's documentary ends with the BSG78 fanfare playing.

Birkel said...

Agreed on that point.
Confession is good for the soul.

Sebastian said...

What, no cafe?

Anyway:

As the pro-sanity faction has been saying all along . . .

In case you are reluctant, here’s the gist of expert opinion:

Fact 1: The overwhelming majority of people do not have any significant risk of dying from COVID-19.

Fact 2: Protecting older, at-risk people eliminates hospital overcrowding.

Fact 3: Vital population immunity is prevented by total isolation policies, prolonging the problem.

Fact 4: People are dying because other medical care is not getting done due to hypothetical projections.

Fact 5: We have a clearly defined population at risk who can be protected with targeted measures.

Mark said...

And Jack Ruby has been released from the brig.

rhhardin said...

I favor the TED talk format. Flashy signs of great intelligence and zero content.

rhhardin said...

This would be a nice example of the empty but flashy-smart talk.
https://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/critical-thinking

Tina Trent said...

How hosting a blog is different from teaching a class:

This teacher is getting more than 300K for doing a lazy 2/1, if that, plus lifetime benefits. Rolled over into retirement.

If Ann were *cruelly* objectively honest, she would disclose her salary, benefits, and teaching load over the last ten years, while she was bitching at lower-income employees as they organized for salary increases.

But, no. Some professors humanoids are just more equal than other life forms.

J. Farmer said...

Agreed on that point.
Confession is good for the soul.


In that case, I'd like to confess my appreciation for you being such a loyal reader.

Mark said...

Changing rooms.

Michael McNeil said...

@Clark - Doesn't work on an iPad.

Sure it does. Hold your finger down on the link for a second or two, until the subsidiary menu comes up. (Hide preview if you need to.)

The preceding “Mark” for instance is Mark-9.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

OK, Zoomer

"education is the kindling of a flame,

...not the filling of a vessel
"

h said...

Replying to TIna Trent: College professors are not hired, nor promoted, nor rewarded based on their teaching load, or teaching ability. The (almost only) relevant thing is their academic research "output" and reputation. So your plea to AA that "she [should] disclose her salary, benefits, and teaching load" is kind of like asking an NFL quarterback to justify his salary based on his musical ability ($30 million an year and you don't have perfect pitch??).

Churchy LaFemme: said...

I forget where I saw this, Dilbert perhaps, but:

An engineer's goal in life is to retire without having done anything that kills people.

Churchy LaFemme: said...

Xena really was an amazing show. They lucked out by having two leads who could actually act and as they went along they were able to branch out from the original Hong Kong action genre to comedy, tragedy, musical dramaedy and documentaries. (But we don't talk about Season 5!).

Original Mike said...

"An engineer's goal in life is to retire without having done anything that kills people."

I know the feeling.

ken in tx said...

"Sorry, Laslo, there is basically no such thing as a “hot chick” at any law school."

Wrong:

I have a female relative who is a partner at an international big-law law firm. She has a JD and a Masters in tax law. She spent some time in law schools. Her undergraduate degree was in theater and she is drop dead gorgeous.

jaydub said...

Mark (the one who replied) : “OK, I was wrong, argument is relevant. At least the rules regarding argument are relevant. Namely,

Non sequitur: Latin; a conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from the previous argument or statement”

My bad! When you said, " I ONLY care that the bridge can take the weight without falling into the river” I understood you to mean that was the ONLY spec you cared about – including cost. Being an engineer, I know I can build you a range of bridges, from plain vanilla to gold plated, and none of them would fall into the river, and I love to build gold plated projects.

See Stultum Hominem: Latin; a foolish person, e.g., someone who fails to properly spec a bridge.

Lem said...

AA Zoom meetings suck big time.

Josephbleau said...

"an engineer is a person who can do for 10 shillings what any fool can do for a pound."

Nevil Shute Norway aeronautical engineer, airship and airplane designer, entrepreneur, wierd weapons wonk, author. “

I have read a few of this man’s books, but from his glib comment I doubt if he has actually done any useful engineering. An engineer designs and builds evolved systems that perform desired functions at a minimal cost the client is willing to pay. Any fool can’t build a heat seeking missile if you give him 20 trillion dollars, unless he hires someone who was not a fool.

Huisache said...

I'm a latecomer to this party, so perhaps my comment will go unread, but nevertheless --

As a math professor currently teaching three junior courses, two senior courses, and one graduate course through Zoom, and who teaches using the Socratic method where possible, I have to say that, while the environment might be very gratifying to the instructor, who has all faces forcibly directed at them, and equidistant from one another, who now has at their fingertips complete control over the flow of dialogue, I suspect that it's very different for the students.

Ordinarily I teach using distance-learning classrooms with teleconference equipment, so it might seem like Zoom would be about the same. For me it's actually much better since I no longer have to rely on my school's OIT to fix problems with the equipment, which breaks down frequently. But the students no longer have the ability to consult with each other in a meaningful way. Before, there'd be at least a handful together in a room. Now, they're atomized. There's no community. You can always artificially arrange such things in online courses, but it's rarely the same. Though I've lived all my life in the area where I teach, except when I went to school, I'm a bit of an outsider here because of my family background. I'm not Mexican, unlike 90% of my students, and my Spanish isn't very good. They know how to communicate with each other better than I do, and I've learned to rely on that when I teach. Individual discussions are essential. But right now we don't have that. I don't think it's something web conferencing is capable of providing.

For me, what really matters with any technology, from textbooks to web conferencing, is the extent to which it makes the classroom more (or less) human. I see a real danger in my own school that what professors experience as a humanizing experience has the reverse effect on students.

An aside: someone said up above that the Socratic method wouldn't be useful in math. Absolutely false. A straight-up content-delivery lecture conveys cookbook mathematics, nothing more. If you want a student to really understand something, you have to get them to have the idea themselves. Engineers can get along with recipe math. Teachers can't. I teach mostly future teachers. Some of the most close-minded people I've met, and most threatened by questions that they don't immediately know the answers to, are teachers. I work hard to make sure that my students don't turn into teachers like that.