This brilliant cartoon ridiculing flipped classrooms really needs to go viral.


By way of Thoreau over at Unqualified Offerings, I find that the flipped classroom is no more;  a new “paradigm-shifting” educational fad is in town, and it is called the scrambled classroom.

While we are waiting for the breakfast meat initiative to complete the Grand Slam of education, here are a few options for those who don’t like scrambled eggs classrooms.


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To Hell With Modesty

I decided to abandon modesty (which is obviously my defining characteristic) for a change, and wrote in the yearly merit report: “VASTLY EXCEEDED GOALS IN RESEARCH.” Yes, I wrote it in block letters. If I could make the letters pulsate in red, I’d do that.

And in case anybody suspects that my goals were low and it was no big deal to exceed them, they were to get 2 articles accepted for publication in prestigious peer-reviewed journals.

Cluelessness Pays Off

I have to say, people, I’m very glad that I’m the most clueless and out-of-touch person on the face of this planet. When I was on the job market, I thought that the only job options open to me had the words “Assistant Professor” in the title. I had absolutely no idea that people with PhDs could apply to be instructors, lecturers, or adjuncts. And I still have no idea how these 3 positions differ.

As you know, I never read any academic blogs or websites and was certain that the only possible scenario was the following: people get a PhD, find a tenure-track job, get tenure, become Full Professor.

The terms “R-1,” “SLAC,” “teaching institution,” “4-year college” were completely unknown to me. I’m still not quite certain what they mean.

And while I was on the job market, I had to ask a friend what he meant by “TT” and “VP.” This is still kind of embarrassing.

Just think about the amount of stress and worry I saved myself just because I had this very limited knowledge.

Ignorance is bliss.

Some Things Don’t Change

Another interesting quote from Tony Judt:

The Canadian Labor Department in 1948 rejected girls and women applying to emigrate to Canada for jobs in domestic service if there was any sign that they had education beyond secondary school.

Judt says things were the same for European Jews: no country wanted to take them in if they had education and didn’t work in manual labor. Which, of course, excludes an enormous number of people whose very culture and religion mandate studying.

Note how this is a permanent feature of immigration requirements that is as present today as it was in 1948. Even though economically First World countries are in desperate need of highly educated people, they prefer to accept immigrants who are not educated and are unlikely to seek education. (Take US’s dedication to taking in only lottery winners, mail-order brides, and religious fanatics and immediate deportations of PhD and MA recipients.)

A Racist Explains Himself

The racist I wrote about recently is upset that people call him a racist. His self-defense is as inventive as his racism is appalling:

If you’re going to accuse me of being a racist, do it on something that actually, like, talks about race. An article on methods of economic organization is no such thing.

The racist thinks that if he avoids writing specifically about race, his racism will be concealed from public view. This is absolutely hilarious. And note the introduction of the infantile “actually, like.” The racist is hiding behind the persona of a small kid who should be excused for misspeaking.

What is even funnier, the racist is experiencing a childish tantrum that nobody paid any attention to his “argument.” He probably thinks his long and meaningless rantings about nothing in particular actually have some value.

The Birth of Israel

As I continue reading Tony Judt’s book, the following considerations come to mind. (To make it clear which ideas are mine and which I’m borrowing from Judt’s book, I italicized his contribution to my argument. I’m an academic, and my fear of plagiarism is immense.)

When the city of Kharkov was finally liberated from the Nazis (for the second time in a row), my Jewish relatives came home from exile. And immediately discovered that their neighbors had occupied their apartments and stolen all of their belongings. These neighbors were not at all happy to see Jewish survivors come home and didn’t even contemplate returning the stolen property.

This was going on everywhere in Europe in 1943-5. Jews were coming home from the front lines, the concentration camps, the evacuation, the exile – and discovering that nobody was happy to see them home. Their property had been stolen by their neighbors and nobody was interested in giving it back. As a result, in 1946-7 (long after the capitulation of the Nazi Germany) there were constant pogroms and murders of Jews across Europe. The weak post-war governments weren’t going to antagonize the ethnic majorities to protect the pesky Jews.

So what was the response to this situation? In the era of stuffing each ethnic group into a neat little territorial box, Jews were told to go away for good and stop bugging Europe with their obnoxious and divisive presence. There was, of course, a consolation prize given to the Jews instead of their stolen belongings and the familiar way of life in familiar surroundings. “You will now also get a country of your own,” Jews were told.

Of course, it mattered little that this “country of their own” was a barren little strip of a desert that was already populated by somebody else. Given that the people living in that strip of land were not Europeans, they didn’t really count as people. This “country of their own” was supposed to protect Jews from a repetition of the Holocaust.

“We can’t promise not to experience an uncontrollable desire to burn a couple more millions of you, people, in industrial furnaces,” Europeans were saying. “So please just go away now and don’t tempt us.”

So the Jews left, and the ethnic parceling of Europe was soon complete.

Of course, this is not the only reason behind Europe’s interest in the creation of Israel. In the countries that massively collaborated with the Nazis (France, Norway, Netherlands, Finland, etc.), nobody wanted to be obligated to stare into the faces of the victims of Nazism for too long. There was a deep need to pretend that powerful resistance movement existed in these countries, and this fiction exacted a degree of complicity that Jews were not going to provide.

Quotes from Tony Judt’s Postwar

Just a couple of quotes from Tony Judt’s Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945  and then I promise I’ll put the book down and go grade some papers:

Since 1989 it has become clearer than it was before just how much the stability of post-war Europe rested upon the accomplishments of Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler. Between them, and assisted by wartime collaborators, the dictators blasted flat the demographic heath upon which the foundations of a new and less complicated continent were then laid.

Judt hates Stalin more than I hate vile freakazoids, so the reference to “accomplishments” is obviously sarcastic.

And some interesting factoids. Germans slaughtered most of their prisoners of war, but the USSR didn’t kill theirs:

The Soviets in their turn took 3.5 million prisoners of war (German, Austrian, Romanian and Hungarian for the most part); most of them returned home after the war.

USSR was more interested in killing off the Soviet soldiers who were the POWs in German camps than German POWs.

And this is something that in the FSU countries is an absolute taboo and is never discussed:

87,000 women in Vienna were reported by clinics and doctors to have been raped by Soviet soldiers in the three weeks following the Red Army’s arrival in the city. A slightly larger number of women in Berlin were raped in the Soviet march on the city, most of them in the week of May 2nd-7th, immediately preceding the German surrender. Both of these figures are surely an underestimate, and they do not include the uncounted number of assaults on women in the villages and towns that lay in the path of the Soviet forces in their advance into Austria and across western Poland into Germany.

There is a couple of very veiled hints in Solzhenitsyn’s novels, but nobody has dared to say this aloud: when you send people to fight in a war, any people, any war, you are turning the absolute majority of them into murderers and rapists.

Tony Judt’s Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945

For my research, I had to consult a couple of paragraphs in Tony Judt’s Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945. And that was a mistake because this turned out to be one of those “You’ll have to tear this 900-page volume out of my cold, dead hands if you want me to let it go before I read every word of it, twice” books.

I don’t like books that tell me what I already know. I prefer the kind of research that surprises me. Europe after 1945 always seemed like too familiar a topic for me to consider reading anything else about it, so I would have never picked up Judt’s book on my own.

Judt espouses a very interesting approach to the history of the XXth century in Europe that seems to be gaining in popularity these days. Europe couldn’t deal with its enormous ethnic diversity packed into a small territory, Judt says (and Helen Graham says something similar.) So between 1914-45, Europe fought incessant wars trying to push every ethnic group into its own small parcel of land:

Thanks to war, occupation, boundary adjustments, expulsions and genocide, almost everybody now lived in their own country, among their own people. For forty years after World War Two Europeans in both halves of Europe lived in hermetic national enclaves where surviving religious or ethnic minorities—the Jews in France, for example—represented a tiny percentage of the population at large and were thoroughly integrated into its cultural and political mainstream. Only Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union—an empire, not a country and anyway only part-European, as already noted—stood aside from this new, serially homogenous Europe.

Maybe you heard this before, but for me this is a strikingly novel approach. And it makes sense, too.

Remember what happened when there wasn’t anybody left to keep Yugoslavia together with an iron fist? And have you noticed what is happening now when millions of representatives of different ethnic groups are pouring into Europe?

This is fascinating stuff, people.