Yes, Blackboard is broken, but with some mental reframing, spit, and bubblegum, anyone can smash it into a different direction. Also, who’s sick of calling this making-do business a “hack”? Let’s go back to jury-rigging or MacGuyvering. Also, your mileage on these so-called hacks may vary depending on your institution’s implementation of Blackboard. The easiest way to get Blackboard working is to give up on it. Stop trying to make it do what you want (like display a leaderboard), and instead embrace the simple principle that Blackboard is JUST A GRADEBOOK. Then, pretend Blackboard is just like an old spiral gradebook, take some sparkle glueRead More →

In a time of segregated pools, Mr. Rogers asked a black singer to play a police officer. The two shared a foot bath with each other on television and sang a song about the many ways to say I love you. Francois Clemmons said he felt an authentic connection with Mr. Rogers, and that Mr. Rogers was intentional and conscious about the episode’s purpose and design. If black lives mattered, this kind of relationship would be the driving force behind policing today. Officers would look like their communities, and white allies would authentically acknowledge, welcome, and listen to people of color.Read More →

This picture of the Obama family arriving in Cuba is iconic. The headline in Huffington Post read “Obama in Havana.” The picture resonates with many other images, so I keep thinking about it. The photographer got lucky, was in the right place at the right time, lined up a perfect shot, at least to my untutored eye. The picture makes me think of Afro-Cuban art, the image of umbrellas that runs through African American art, second line parades in New Orleans, and the way that blocky and flowing images dominate those genres. Even though the color is stark, it’s still lovely.Beyonce’s “Formation” shows how iconicRead More →

1. Summer! 2. Summer in the Northwoods is not like summer anywhere else. 3. Patient people. 4. Grapefruits are available out of season. Yummy! (Bad for the world economy to eat fruit out of season, but yummy in my tummy. Darn.) 5. Bread Pudding coffee from Community Coffee – a taste of Louisiana in the Northwoods. 6. An awesome post-grading night’s sleep. Gosh, that felt so effing good. 7. A kick-ass semester in the can. “It’s a wrap!”   ∞Read More →

Back in 2010, Prince chided Beyonce for her lack of musical knowledge, but was impressed that she understood something about Mixolydian scales and Egyptian styles, WTF. Basically he thought she was quite talented and gifted, but her longevity and survival depended on learning a lot more. I’m not much of a Beyonce fan, and had no interest in Lemonade. The brouhaha over “Formation” is incredibly complex, but not enough to tempt me to listen or buy the album. Visually, the video is fascinating and brilliant, transgressive and offensive. The general invisibility of trans artist Big Freedia, the politics of colorism and authenticity in the deepRead More →

In a mandatory certification class, I was assigned to explore one of the generations other than my own, and then discuss how what I learned will impact my teaching. The assignment is well designed and I intend to steal it, but given my  immersion in pop culture studies and interest in the generational divide, I didn’t learn much new about generational differences. Since the topic is relevant to the blog, I’m reposting what I wrote:   Talkin’ bout my generation, sorta (sorry, not sorry)   I am answering the assignment differently. Because Gen-X special snowflake syndrome. I’m quite familiar with generational differences, so I didn’tRead More →

I now view Hillary with the love/hate of an ex-girlfriend. Bernie’s been a great disappointment. Even Jeb Bush is more appealing at this point. A wimp like him would lead the country with safe inaction. But instead, we’ve got Bernie throwing chairs, and Hillary clutching her pearls in lofty dismay. Instead of demonstrating leadership, my party is in the middle of a bad marriage. Clearly, class issues matter here, too: Uptown girls make arched eyebrows and snide excoriations at Brooklyn street kids who resort to verbal shivs. We don’t talk about that, though.   In 08, feminist philosopher Nancy Frasier criticized Hillary and her supportersRead More →

“While we may not talk about it, we know a syllabus reveals a lot about our colleagues,” writes Linda Nilson in The Graphic Syllabus. The book, published in 2007, talks about how bureaucratized syllabus developed in response to various political pressures in higher ed, the old-style syllabus (which was simple and teacher-centered), and the learner-centered syllabus (which is guide-on-the-side and visually oriented). But, let’s reconsider that quote in light of the cookie-cutter syllabi that higher ed mandates today. “While we many not talk about it, we know a syllabus reveals nothing about our colleagues except that we are expected to follow in line.” No childRead More →