Why Take Composition Courses?

The brouhaha about automated grading of essay exams came to mind the other day when I was asked, as an English teacher, to comment on whether or not a student might be able to submit a series of lab reports to fulfill a composition requirement. If automated grading catches on, we are going to see … Continue reading Why Take Composition Courses?

Writing for Yourself

The other day, when I should have been doing something else, I Googled myself.  One of the pages I found was on Writing Skills for a site called Paper Due.  At first, I was flattered, thinking someone was actually using something I had written to aid others in developing their prose style.Then I was, well, … Continue reading Writing for Yourself


Some years ago, I taught a few online courses for one of the for-profit online universities. Afterward, I felt a little sorry for the students, for I didn't think they were getting their money's worth—a local community college would have been cheaper, and the students would have had much more direct interaction with their teacher—and … Continue reading Flexibility

Here We Go Again!

What's this fascination we've got with teachers? Why do we concentrate on them so much, when we talk about education, and on rating them, and so little on learning?There's an article in today's The New York Times about claims that education will actually get better if we have more evaluation of teachers. That, by itself, … Continue reading Here We Go Again!

Exploding the Monolith: The Value of Teaching Appalachian Literature in Inner-City Environments

The following is a paper I will be presenting at the Appalachian Studies Association Annual Conference at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio on Friday, March 27.There are, of course, similarities between the Appalachian college student and the Brooklyn one, but you won’t find them if you go looking for racial or ethnic parallels, religious … Continue reading Exploding the Monolith: The Value of Teaching Appalachian Literature in Inner-City Environments

"It’s Just Like Watching the Detectives"

A slow learner (to borrow from Thomas Pynchon), only recently have I begun to connect the understanding I have gained over the last decades about movies with my developing practices in teaching. Obtuse, I hadn’t recognized how directly the former was influencing the latter. In fact, it wasn’t until last fall, when I once again … Continue reading "It’s Just Like Watching the Detectives"