Category: Education

Book #5 in 2018: A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford

Posted February 4th, 2018
Book #5 in 2018: A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford

My sister used to drive me crazy—well she still does in many ways—for her interactions with her daughters. One of the worst things was her flat assertion about her younger daughter’s problems with math. “She can’t do math,” Sister said. “She get’s it from me.” Then a few years ago we were at lunch with…

Book #3 in 2018: “How To Bake π” by Eugenia Cheng

Posted January 14th, 2018
Book #3 in 2018: “How To Bake π” by Eugenia Cheng

How To Bake π: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics, by Eugenia Cheng. (Basic Books, 2015) is a disappointment. Cheng is, I am sure, a fine mathematician and probably an excellent teacher, but she needs help writing, especially the help of a copyeditor. The jacket cover features lavish praise from five professors of…

DISCARDED

Posted July 2nd, 2017
DISCARDED

In the course of making some point or other, I asked the high-school age students in my summer workshop what their favorite books were. Any book, I said, it could even be a picture book you read with your parents. Not one of the eight mentioned a book. Finally, a lad allowed as how a…

The Naples Jaunt 4: Mining and Minding the Past     

Posted March 5th, 2017
The Naples Jaunt 4: Mining and Minding the Past     

Ruins. Antiquities. The bones of the dead. Italy is a place where one culture layers on another, razing, reusing, raising new structures for new orders. Italy has commoditized her archaeological past since long before she was unified as a nation in 1860. Romans collected and copied works of Greek art. Greek, Roman, Egyptian relics were…

Listen and Follow Directions

Posted March 13th, 2016
Listen and Follow Directions

The most common comment on any report card I received in elementary school was, “Ellen would do well if she would just learn to follow directions.” Teachers stopped saying that as I got older but only because the grading system was about the mark and not about any insight into my approach to learning and…

The Mouth That Would Be President, Take 2

Posted March 7th, 2016
The Mouth That Would Be President, Take 2

It was August 13, 2015, exactly six months and twenty-one days ago as I write this, that I published my anxiety about the campaign of Donald J. Trump for the Republican nomination for President of the United States of America. I was told not to worry, that he was a farce, that his campaign would…

La Jolla 3: Why can’t the writers…learn…to…think?

Posted January 27th, 2016
La Jolla 3: Why can’t the writers…learn…to…think?

Professor Henry Higgins—or the voice of Rex Harrison—is stuck in my brain. It is not so much that I lament English ill-organized and -enunciated in ordinary communications. It is more a matter of abuse heaped on words and syntax by whoever is writing those damned labels for modern art. This is not a new whine…

Paying to Eat

Posted August 22nd, 2015
Paying to Eat

The grocery store was the second-to-last stop. We had picked up a prescription at Walmart, had dinner at Lin’s Hibachi Grill and were headed to Bomboy’s for ice cream. A normal group of errands on a normal summer Friday evening. My Dear One said there was a worthy one-day sale on meats. Whole chickens were…

Šeima Means Family 2: The Determination of Memory

Posted April 30th, 2015
Šeima Means Family 2: The Determination of Memory

Most of us choose what to remember. We cherish feelings illuminated through rose-colored glasses and forget the uncomfortable; sometimes we nurse the grievances and grudges that give us our sense of self. In any case, the content and color of the past, the limning of our history is largely up to us. In Lithuania, memory…

The Dallas-Austin Axis 3: Great Reading

Posted January 19th, 2015
The Dallas-Austin Axis 3: Great Reading

Museum labels—you know, those notes posted next to works of art? What’s not to dislike. More often than not they are written in that impenetrable artspeak (of which curators and critics are so enamored) and filled with “facts” and observations the writer believes are essential to every viewer’s experience of that work. Ironically, many curators…