On Sarcasm, Irony, and Teaching

Recently, Grant Wiggins posted a heartfelt post by his daughter who was totally gobsmacked by spending two days shadowing students. Apparently, they lead a life filled with boredom and pain, tortured by constant immobility and sarcastic teachers. I was unmoved. It was, clearly, a minority opinion; Wiggins’ post went everywhere, and all sorts of teachers…

Kyle, and What I Learned about College Admissions

In the fall of his senior year, Kyle Evans1, one of my top pre-calc students last spring, came to me for advice on his Questbridge scholarship application essay. I was scribbling edits, making comments, emphasizing a strong narrative, when I suddenly realized that the point of his essay was the struggles he’d faced freshman year…

On Changing Fortunes and Administrative Attentions

At my first school, I was looking for jobs long before they gave me my layoff notice, knowing full well I wouldn’t be called back. I had no reason to think so; my classes were well-run, my reviews were good, administrators made no requests or complaints, and in fact the ostensible reason for my departure…

The Nihilistic Cruelty of “Fish Is Fish”

Cracked identifies five classic children’s books with horrible hidden messages, which reminded me I hadn’t transferred my reaction to Fish is Fish to this blog. I wrote this the day it happened. Some people think I’m mocking Stanford with these stories. Not usually; certainly not in this one. While I don’t mention his name here,…

The Panda Problem

Our school was having visitors that week, and I needed a show-off problem in case they dropped by my room. The circle square problem caught my interest. As posted by Dan Meyer, Given an arbitrary point P on a line segment AB, let AP form the perimeter of a square and PB form the circumference…

Why Stanford Tried to Boot Me

The new US News Ed Schools Ranking reminded me I hadn’t yet reposted the piece I wrote explaining what happened, from my perspective. I’ve edited it down slightly; you can read the original at the link. In case I didn’t caveat it enough, I’m interpreting Professor Lotan’s behavior, not asserting her motives as fact. I…