Brilliance Is Worthless

I have two students. One, let’s call him Darrel, is obviously brilliant and has a natural talent for languages. The other one, let’s call him LeShawn, finds languages to be very hard. Everything comes to him at the cost of a lot of effort.

Darrel relies on his brilliance, never prepares for class, fires off exams and hands them in without going over them, and eventually ends up being the worst student in the class.

LeShawn, however, comes to my office hours twice a week, goes over every single correction I make in his homework, constantly asks questions and participates in class. By the end of the course, his Spanish is phenomenal.

I’ve seen this happen so many times that it isn’t funny any more. Students who rely on their natural gifts and invest no effort into their work end up staring at their failed exams in shock. Plodding hard workers, however, always end up succeeding.

It’s all about hard work and consistent effort, people.

P.S. This post is actually a message to myself because I’m starting an intense research stretch that will last from now until the end of August. I need reminding that brilliance is nothing while perseverance and consistency are everything. I’ll tell you how it goes.

Maybe Possibly Whatever

Clarissa: “So if a person maybe possibly decides to attempt to maybe sometime this year to make a decision to possibly start trying to get pregnant, how soon before – if one maybe possibly decides – should one stop taking the contraceptive pills?”

OB-GYN: So is your husband ready?

The words “at least” are floating in the air.

How to Motivate Young Academics

I have a genius proposal as to how to promote enthusiasm for teaching among new faculty members and get them to love their students.

The proposal is very simple, it costs nothing to implement, and the results will be spectacular. Freshly minted PhDs who enter colleges as new Assistant Professors should be given only Freshman Seminars to teach for the first two years of their tenure track.

Those young academics who survive this ordeal will never complain about teaching or their students again. Higher-level students they will get to teach after the Freshman Seminars will seem absolutely brilliant to them. And they will feel so grateful to their administrators for getting them out of teaching freshmen that their loyalty to their college will be limitless.

I taught freshmen only once, last semester. As a result, the more advanced students I have now seem almost bizarrely intelligent, hardworking, responsible, mature, and enthusiastic about learning. Imagine, none of them spend half of the class period chanting “I want multiple choice!” And when I come into the classroom and greet them, they greet me, too. They also sign their emails.

“I’m not sure if I ever taught a Freshman Seminar,” a colleague says pensively.

“If you are not sure, then you haven’t taught it,” I say. “This is not an experience one is likely to forget.”

I Need to Move to Norway

Because authorities in Norway are not intimidated by the screechings of “But this is my culture! But my religion mandates it!” when it comes to defending the rights of children:

The story of an Indian couple’s children being taken away by Norwegian social services on objections of them being fed by hand and sleeping in their parents’ bed has attracted worldwide attention and the intervention of the Indian government.

In May last year, Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya’s children three-year-old Abhigyan and one-year-old Aishwarya were taken under protective care by Norwegian Child Welfare Services and they have been in foster care since. Norwegian authorities equate being fed by hand as force feeding and deem it inappropriate for parents to sleep with their children, according to a report Monday on IBN-CNN’s website.

Of course, people who don;t like this system, probably should not move to Norway.

Abortion-Promoting Liberals

Hatred of progressive values makes some people delusional. Look what I just found:

One is either an abortion-hating, pro-war, pro-market deregulation conservative or a abortion-promoting, anti-war, pro-market regulation liberal.

Have you met an “abortion-promoting Liberal”? I can just imagine Liberals being shipped on buses into an area to hand out leaflets saying, “Abortion is good! Have abortions now and be saved!” There must also be Liberals who stand in front of OB-GYN offices hounding pregnant women into aborting and screaming insults in their faces. And the most progressive Liberals must certainly be known for shooting to death midwives and doctors who deliver babies.

On the weird planet this blogger lives, such Liberals probably exist. In real world, Liberals promote rights, not actual abortions.

The rest of the post is as egregious. It goes as far as suggesting that being Liberal somehow translates into being 100% anti-Israel. Of course, if you try very hard, you can ensure that you never see any reasonable Liberals with a nuanced point of view. Who needs nuance, though, if you can just oversimplify, generalize and congratulate yourself for making the world so easy to understand?

This is not the first time I’m catching the quoted blogger in intellectual dishonesty (this is a polite term for nasty lies.)

Why can’t some people promote their political agendas without turning into outright liars? Might that be because their position is completely untenable and they need lies to bolster it?