10 Dec

I know this is a little bit out of our comfort zone, in terms of the class focus as it has been presented. However, with the end of the semester at hand and for your last QOTW response, I wanted to posit a question that will be near and dear to you as college students. Therefore, here is the premise and the question.

It’s been an honor and pleasure to work with all of you this semester. I hope you enjoyed the course (as much as a Friday evening course can be enjoyed) and that you learned something. In addition, I wish all of you nothing but the best as your OCC academic careers continue.

College tuitions are rising, in large part because states are cutting funding to their institutions of higher education, and the job market remains bleak, if not damn near impossible to navigate. Student loan debt in the United States recently topped a grand total of over $1 trillion (yes, trillion), and more and more students are defaulting on their loans. Recently, there have been glimmers of hope for the American economy, but that doesn’t mean squat to the recent college graduates from four-year universities earning an average of $27,000 annually (2009-10) — a 10-percent decline from the $30,000 they were earning just a few years ago (2006-08). Consider that the average graduate of a four-year university takes out $20,000 in loans for their education, translating into some monthly payments — just for the average student — that dwarf those of a reasonably-priced new vehicle.

“An analysis by The New York Times of Labor Department data about college graduates aged 25 to 34 found that the number of these workers employed in food service, restaurants and bars had risen 17 percent in 2009 from 2008, though the sample size was small,” reads a New York Times report from May. “There were similar or bigger employment increases at gas stations and fuel dealers, food and alcohol stores, and taxi and limousine services.”

What does that mean? Essentially, that college graduates — instead of working in their fields of study, whether it’s mathematics or literature or nursing or business — are bartending, waiting tables, slaving away at gas stations, toiling away in retail stores, all of which are jobs they could have easily gotten without a four-year degree.

So here’s the question: Is a college education still worth it? Argue for your point of view using at least one outside source, and not the New York Times article I’ve linked to in this QOTW prompt.

Respond to this QOTW, your final one for the semester, by the time class starts on Friday, Dec. 16.



5 Dec

As we all know, for much of the country, sports play an integral role in peoples’ day-to-day lives. Football season effectively means that weekends become two-day gridiron bonanzas, baseball season consumes much of the nation’s summers, and hockey and basketball season keep us entertained throughout the long, cold winter. But beyond that, there’s an enormous economic impact, particularly for areas where there are professional sports teams or powerhouse college squads. And athletes know it.

Players of all four major professional sports — football, baseball, basketball and hockey — are all members of unions. They can and do collectively bargain the terms under which they participate in their sport and, as we have seen recently in the NFL and, more recently, the NBA, they flex their bargaining muscles with a great deal of authority.

But, many argue, their players’ associations — unions — fly in the face of what unions were established to do in the first place: Protect workers against inhumane working conditions and provide for a respectable amount of financial compensation for the work they do. Athletes, they argue, are not working in mines or in factories; they are playing a game they love to play and get millions of dollars to do so.

So here’s the question: Should professional athletes be allowed to unionize? Why or why not?

Post your response to this week’s QOTW by the time class starts on Friday, Dec. 9.


13 Nov


Some of you expressed an interest last week in seeing what articles I’m assigning for my EN 1510 classes during the Winter 2012 semester. If so, here is a link to the reading assignments they will be tackling. Obviously, these aren’t readings I’m requiring of you; instead, they are merely intended to be fun, interesting articles for you to consider if you so choose.

Your Question of the Week that’s due by Friday, Nov. 18 is posted below.


13 Nov

We know that sports are a big deal in American culture; that much is obvious. Professional athletes earn millions of dollars, and the teams they play for are incredible economic boons to the areas where they are situated. Perhaps even more, college athletics — particularly at large schools like the University of Michigan and Michigan State University (and, of course, my beloved University of Alabama) — are even bigger contributors to a local economy. But college athletes aren’t paid. Yes, some are on full-ride scholarships, while others are walk-on members of a football or basketball team, for example.

There has been a debate about whether college athletes should receive a salary since, at the very heart of it, they are the ones who are drawing fans to the stadiums and putting butts in the seats. Some argue they should receive a small salary in addition to their tuition-free education. Others say the education is enough. But I want to know what you think.

So here’s the question: Should college athletes be paid? Why or why not? Incorporate information from one outside source in your response and provide a link to that source in the response, as well.

Your 150-200 word response is due by class time on Friday, Nov. 18.


6 Nov

This week’s Question of the Week is simple. Write a 150-200 word response to the following question: “What is your favorite album (CD/record/etc.) of all time, and why?”

Your response must include a link to at least one source (a review, an analysis, etc.) to an article about the album of your choosing, and you must incorporate something from that source into your response to this QOTW to receive credit for doing it.

Your response to this QOTW is due by the time class starts on Friday, Nov. 11.


29 Oct


Thank you very much for your hand-written feedback from Oct. 21. As always, it’s incredibly helpful to me as a teacher. Here are two generally common themes that I noted from them:

  • By and large, the relatively relaxed nature of the class is a good thing. I’m pleased to hear that, and that approach will continue.
  • You’d like more instruction on grammar and sentence-level issues. I can certainly accomodate that. We’ll have some punctuation lessons (semicolons, colons, M-dashes, commas, quotation marks, etc.), as well as discussions of run-ons, comma splices, complete sentences, fragments, and spiffing up otherwise dry sentences in the coming week or two.

Again, thanks for the feedback. I’m almost done with your celebrity obituary essays, and overall, they are a pleasure to read; you seemed to have a lot of fun with them. You’ll have them returned to you on Nov. 4.

You’re QOTW prompt for Week 9 is posted below.


29 Oct


We here about political activism among celebrities quite a bit, particularly those who tend to be more liberal. Sometimes, good can come of it — see: Sean Penn’s help in Haiti which, by all accounts, has been hands-on and not done with publicity in mind — but so can bad. And here’s, actually, the more pressing issue: What does it matter what these celebrities, whether they are musicians, actors/actresses, TV hosts, or others, have to say about a given political issue?

So here’s the question: In this QOTW response, argue one way or the other about whether celebrities should, in most senses, just keep their mouths shut about political issues.

Your response to this QOTW is due by class time on Friday, Nov. 4.