Group Identity (Part Five)

I don’t seem to have photos of me teaching, but here is a staged photo of me grading papers (while on the phone??) for an article about my writing.

This is the fifth installment of a series of essays on group identity on college campuses that comes from a speech I gave back in 2007. You can find the firstsecondthird, and fourth here. I will continue discussing what happens with a fixation on group identity, problems I saw playing out 15 years ago. And these problems have only increased since then.

This installment continues with the discussion of the detrimental impact group identity has on the relationship between faculty members and students. The speech is rewritten in the indented sections, and I interrupt periodically with my current comments about what I wrote so long ago. 

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Group Identity (Part Four)

Another not-very-good photo of me speaking at a conference!

This is the fourth installment of a series of essays on group identity on college campuses that comes from a speech I gave back in 2007. You can find the firstsecond, and third here. I will continue discussing what happens when the educational system develops a fixation on group identity, problems I saw playing out 15 years ago. And these problems have only increased since then.

The fourth installment begins with how group identity damages relationships between faculty members. The speech is rewritten in the indented sections, and I interrupt periodically with my current comments about what I wrote so long ago. 

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Group Identity (Part Two)

Movie poster for Absence of Malice, a movie I discuss later in this post.

In the first installment of this series discussing group identity on college campuses, I provided some background information on my history and background of the speech I gave in 2007 on the same topic. 

In Part Two, I provide information on the college where I was tenured at the time. I think that is important to the story because what was happening there seemed pretty extreme fifteen – twenty years ago. Today, such practices are mainstream in academia. But why was this particular 7,000-student college, tucked in the foothills of San Gabriel Mountains, at the forefront of identity politics?

I also introduce the first problem with a focus on group identity: the inability to develop relationships. 

Again, I will rewrite the speech, interrupting periodically with my current comments about what I wrote so long ago.

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The Damage Wrought by Group Identity on College Campuses

Today starts a multi-part series on some of my experiences as a college professor. I found an old presentation I gave in 2007 called “The Damage Wrought by Group Identity on College Campuses.” In this series, I will be breaking down that speech, providing some background information on my points, and updating my thoughts on the topics discussed.

This introduction is the first installment.

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Enemy of the People: Our Justice System

I love jury duty!

I know. Nobody loves jury duty. (Perhaps I should have been a lawyer…) So I suppose it is not surprising that I was captivated by the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. I actually took a break from my writing to watch gavel-to-gavel coverage, captivated not only by what happened in the courtroom but also by live commentary given by a wide variety of lawyers. 

The last time I watched a trail on TV was the OJ Simpson murder persecution, as KTLA in Los Angeles televised the entire trial. At the time, I was what people called a “freeway flyer,” a college instructor with adjunct positions at four different colleges across the city. So my hours were irregular, giving me the opportunity to watch much of the trial.

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Thoughts on the Cover of My New Book: Clara’s Journal

Clara’s Journal: And the Story of Two Pandemics explores a year in the life of Clara Mae Horen, an 18-year-old living in Cresbard, South Dakota, in 1918, at the beginning of one of the world’s deadliest pandemics. And Clara is my grandaunt (the sister of my paternal grandfather)!

One of the pleasures of studying Clara’s journal has been learning how different life was 100 years ago, but maybe even more importantly, another has been discovering the similarities we have with a 1918 teenager and with a 1918 country coping with a pandemic.

Now how to convey that in a cover?

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Thoughts on Simplistic Thinking

Goby the Fish

I can think specifically of a few times when teachers worked to indoctrinate me.

The first time was in elementary school. Those were the days when anti-littering propaganda… well, littered school hallways and classrooms. And yes, I was one of those kids who, under the age of ten, was out in the streets lecturing people for littering, yelling out the car window from the backseat at passersby who dropped cigarette butts or napkins on the sidewalk, picking up pieces of trash and railing at the ilk of those ruining our world. I must have been adorable.

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Oh boy. Dare I? Thoughts on Abortion

Wow. Abortion has certainly topped the news cycle lately, thanks to a law just passed in New York and a bill in Virginia that prompted a controversial comment by the governor of that state, who is now embroiled in a blackface controversy that has put his future at stake. 

Needless to say, my Facebook newsfeed is filled with opinions, from both pro-lifers and pro-choicers, on the topic along with countless links to support this point or that point.

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Thoughts on What We Say to Young Adults about the Future

Screen Shot 2019-01-23 at 3.19.17 PMYou can accomplish great things in this life.

That’s it. Now you just have to believe it. Unfortunately, it seems that our media and our educational system is hell bent on convincing you otherwise. And so many of you are taking that to heart. I want to say “Stop that.”

I’d been a college professor (with a brief stint of teaching middle school thrown in for fun) for 25 years when I quit last year. I am not sure if I will ever go back. I’m not sure I want to. But I know academia. It’s my niche. I lived it, and I follow academic news stories in the media somewhat obsessively. One of the reasons I am so interested is that much of what is occurring on a national scale at colleges and universities today are things that already happened at a small community college in Los Angeles, where I was a tenured English professor. I taught there for a total of 16 years, back in the nineties and in the first decade of the 2000s. So what I am witnessing is not all that surprising.

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