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if your dinner guests don’t behave, does that make you an ineffective hostess? (from the archives)

One story: this semester, I teach two sections of the same class. One class meets at 930AM and has sixteen students, all of whom are native English speakers.  The students are lively (probably stoked on the morning coffee); they seem to keep up with the reading. The second section meets at 2PM and has twenty-six students, seven of whom are non-native English speakers. It’s a less talkative class and I …

My Son, the Skiing Scofflaw

Apparently my son is breaking the law. Right now, while he’s skiing in the French Alps. No, he’s not swigging wine with the locals (or he’d best not be, if he knows what’s good for him), and no, I don’t think he’s sneaking into girls’ rooms after curfew (we are still in the days of “girls are  yucky,” inshallah). Nope. It’s the fact that he left the country in the …

My Kid Isn’t A Microchip. Is Yours?

Wouldn’t it be cool if kids were like microchips? If we could just program them with a few whisks of copper wire, or a cleverly inserted tweezer? Just think: No socks on the floor. Homework finished promptly, and before turning on the television, computer, DS, phone.  “Please” and “thank you” would happen automatically. Bickering would be eradicated and family board games would no longer be blood sports. Bliss, right? If …

Cathie’s Challenge, the City’s Future

photo: Michael Appleton, New York Times It’s not the hat, although really, that hat? I’m not going to be one of those women who disses people on the basis of their fashion choices. Besides, there are so many other reasons to diss Cathie Black; we don’t have to pay any attention to that hat. Did you see the article about Cathie in today’s Times? It made me want to like …

Why I’m Not the New Chancellor of NYC Schools

I know why Mayor Bloomberg didn’t tap me to take over from Joel Klein. I’m overqualified. I taught public high school for four years, have a doctorate in literature and have been teaching college students for longer than I care to remember.  Both of my kids go to public schools; I went to public schools until I got to college.  But apparently the best qualification to run the NYC schools …