‘I will take the Ring,’ he said, ‘though I do not know the way.’ — J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, “The Council of Elrond” Frodo setting off on a nearly hopeless trip to Mordor or the knight taking up the quest for the Holy Grail are, intentionally or not, setting out… Continue reading The Rewards of Risk
Philosophy, history of philosophy, logic, reasoning, ethics
The Joy of Failure
The best games make failure fun. In much of life, failure can be costly, even deadly. Games get to define what failure looks like. In games, the blows of failure are softened, so that the player is safe (more or less), but they are not eliminated. Games — and education — grant us a crucial opportunity… Continue reading The Joy of Failure
Education as Adventure
“This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbours’ respect, but he gained—well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end.” — J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit Education is an adventure. As a metaphorical truism, the image… Continue reading Education as Adventure
Scholars Ponder Top Gun
The movie Top Gun: Maverick is breaking box office records. Here are some questions that online scholars may ponder to develop their understanding of the film. Mathematics. How do the box office receipts compare to other movies? What does it mean to adjust the receipts for inflation? Physics. Which flying maneuvers generate forces on the… Continue reading Scholars Ponder Top Gun
Words and Things
Humanity can be characterized as a tool-using and tool-creating species. The tools we create or borrow can obviously give us enormous power, for good or ill: they will, however, always do so at a cost. We sometimes mark that cost ahead of time and choose to pay it; at other times, we don’t fully appreciate… Continue reading Words and Things
Continuous? Step-wise? What’s up with that?
You may have seen a picture of movie film. A movie film consists of a large sequence of still images, which are presented so rapidly that the viewer perceives it as motion. This is true whether the pictures are photographic images of something with physical existence, or whether they are drawn or composed artwork. (Collecting… Continue reading Continuous? Step-wise? What’s up with that?
A Rhetorical Superhero
I’ve learned many useful things from my students through the years. Last fall, Peter Jackson from my Senior English class drew my attention to the the term “Steel Man”. I’d understood the concept it represented, but not encountered the term; as often, however, having a name for something makes it easier to handle and promote.… Continue reading A Rhetorical Superhero
The Politics of Perplexity in Twenty-First Century America
In the context of twenty-first century America, “politics” is perhaps one of the most curiously irritating words in the English language. I know from personal experience – whether from observing others, or from paying attention to myself – that there is a visceral reflex to feel something between annoyance and disgust upon hearing the word.… Continue reading The Politics of Perplexity in Twenty-First Century America
I have to date remained silent here about the COVID-19 pandemic, because for the most part I haven’t had anything constructive to add to the discussion, and because I thought that our parents and students would probably prefer to read about something else. I also try, when possible, to discuss things that will still be… Continue reading Unprecedented?
Mr. Spock, Pseudo-scientist
I’m one of those aging folks who still remember the original run of Star Trek (no colon, no The Original Series or any other kind of elaboration — just Star Trek). It was a groundbreaking show, and whether you like it or not (there are plenty of reasons to do both), it held out a… Continue reading Mr. Spock, Pseudo-scientist