Friday, February 27, 2009

Musings on Facebook

Today I got my first Facebook Friend Request from a previous student. Up until now my friends (i.e., a couple strong ties mixed up with a whole bunch of weak ties), have consisted primarily of high school, college, and grad school friends, mixed with some much-needed friends connected in no way what-so-ever to academics.

I always realized that my students were probably on Facebook, and that they could easily look me up. I just didn't think any of them would actually want to be my friend on Facebook - and I certainly did not think it appropriate to be Facebook friends while one of my students was enrolled in one of my classes.*

So now I've taken the plunge and accepted the friend request from my former student. It's a new day.

*Upon retrospect, I think my feeling on this is kind of interesting. Even though Facebook exists in virtual reality, I automatically transferred the taboos against teacher/student fraternizing in the real world to the virtual world. Hmm...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Ah! The vague scent of skunk.

You know those weekends that are really, really good? When you go hiking in the snow to see a beautiful, frozen waterfall? When you go out for sinfully delicious ice cream? When going grocery shopping doesn't seem so bad after all of that?

And then your dog plays with a skunk at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday night. Brilliant!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

There's Lol Cats and then there's this...

For Christmas, my cat-obsessed friend purchased a page-a-day calendar for me and my husband. The theme is "bad cats."

My husband and I have yet to see the humor in most of the pages, but today's picture went from "pretty lame," to "downright disturbing." I leave you with this (I apologize for the blurriness):

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ethics in the Classroom

I'm teaching sociology of education this semester at an elite institution. An important component in all my classes is social inequality. This is no less the case in soc. of ed., but it's different this time.

Teaching race and ethnicity at the same institution last semester, I was not uncomfortable teaching about inequality - it comes with the turf in a class like that, and I had a lot of minority students in my class who already understood structural inequality from personal experience.

This semester is different. This semester I am teaching conflict theory to a room full of elites, and I think that is beginning to dawn on them. You can't read Collins' discussion of functionalism and conflict theory and miss his point that students who attend elite institutions often get elite jobs.

I know that I'm not teaching this material differently than I would have at my last institution (a large state school that was not academically elite, although you could make an argument about athletic elitism). However, I realize there's a change inside me. There's a part of me that really wants them to get that they are privileged. That yes, they worked hard to get where they are, but that 1) for many of them, they had significant advantages in getting here,* and 2) that their degrees are going to be valued to a much greater extent than the majority of college graduates.

I have never felt that my job in the classroom was to be an activist, and I certainly don't include activism in my courses, but that's what I feel like right now. And I'm wondering 1) if anyone else has felt the same way from time to time, and 2) what you've done about it.

*To help them get this, I pull out the "sociology of me," and mention that it is no great surprise that I have a Ph.D., given that my father is an M.D., and my mother has a B.S.