Postcards From the Edge will return next week, as the Dean of Graduate Studies is out of town, and away from her computer
March 30th, 2012

Maybe I’m just getting old and conservative but I am having a really hard time sympathizing with the student protests in the province of Quebec
March 23rd, 2012

Maybe I’m just getting old and conservative but I am having a really hard time sympathizing with the student protests in the province of Quebec. Every time I think that I also keep in mind that I probably would have joined them out on the streets, blocking traffic and irritating the hell out of hard-working citizens if I were their age. I grew up in Montreal, went to McGill, and spent a fair amount of time marching and occupying the Vietnam War era. I was in very good company. It felt good to be part of a huge mass of peers, having our emerging identities shaped by waves of solidarity and a strong sense of purpose. It wasn’t very difficult to catch the wave, to join up with the leaders of the protests movements, skipping classes in order to stop a war—or acknowledge the French fact in Quebec.  It felt unequivocally like the right and proper thing to be doing. And when you are young there’s nothing more satisfying than transgression, especially when there’s safety in numbers. Joining thousands of your peers is a lot less brave than facing down a tank in the middle of Tiananmen Square all by yourself.

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Lecture Fail?
March 16th, 2012

Lecture Fail? We’re all talking about it—that is, ringing out the old (the traditional one-professor lecture) to make way for the new (reliance on technology). The Chronicle of Higher Education has been doing some neat stuff around this. Earlier in the year they established a challenge to readers to defend or bash the traditional lecture format. Not surprisingly, the responses have inclined in favour of the new. It’s really well worth a visit to the Chronicle site to watch some of accumulating videos submitted by students and profs alike, each gazing into his/her webcam to respond to the question. http://bit.ly/xVHvB6

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Last week I was in Toronto for some meetings
March 11th, 2012

Last week I was in Toronto for some meetings. The cab ride back to the airport from the hotel was highly entertaining. As we cruised by the CN Tower and the Air Canada Centre, the driver launched into an eloquent disquisition on the (Toronto Maple) Leafs. My husband, who knows a fair bit about the game and grew up in Toronto cheering for the home team, politely offered his own commentary every now and then. But the driver had his own mind and his very strong opinions, and didn’t so much ignore the dialogue as persist in his own well rehearsed narrative of the past, present and future health of the Leafs. It was fascinating, not so much for the hockey stuff, which interests me somewhat, but for the way he spoke. He was clearly from Pakistan, at least late ‘forties, handsome and tall. His familiar accent helped to flavour an impressively articulation of all things Canadian-hockey related.

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A few months ago I was at a planning meeting for the upcoming conference of the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools (NAGS)
March 2nd, 2012

A few months ago I was at a planning meeting for the upcoming conference of the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools (NAGS). At some point I tossed out the idea of a session on social media, suggesting that we do a ‘live’ demo of the benefits and opportunities of Facebook, Twitter, blogging and so on, especially as they relate to building graduate communities and assisting with recruitment. With the exception of one colleague, everyone at the table reacted with full enthusiasm. Somebody even used the word ‘fun’ to characterize the proposed session. I got excited. I knew I was on to something here.

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