Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League! Send Them to Whatever School This Is!

The Ivy Wars

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"The world isn’t flat, Yale’s founders insis
ted. It has abysses that open suddenly at our feet and in our hearts, and students need a faith strong enough to plumb them, face the demons in them, and, if necessary, defy earthly powers in the name of a higher one.”

Jim Sleeper writes about the origins and legacies of the Ivy League. Three centuries later, this world is still full of sudden abysses and the need for faith.

So, should you send your kid to the Ivy League? Should you go if you get in? I went to community college, a regional liberal arts college, two British universities, and two Ivies, and I’ve taught students at four universities and two high schools. I have lots of thoughts on this topic, and some of them are here and here. More to come.

Love Languages


Last night a friend and I were comparing the songs that seem to be written in our own personal love languages. Hers were by Norah Jones and Tom Waits. This was mine.

James Garner and Diahann Carroll at the March on Washington

imageThey are icons of political gorgeousness. This is at a time when Southern theaters were segregated and would show bowdlerized versions of movies with “racial content.” In other words, a time when being an activist and an ally in Hollywood was risky and costly. I think about them and Harry Belafonte and Paul Newman and all the rest, and then I think about stars today, and our generation’s silence and deleted tweets…

Hi Ms. Hopper, I hope this is okay to ask! I've never attended a traditional English course before (English and History are always mixed into one period, but History takes up the bulk of class time), so my writing training is limited to a few lessons on grammar and a couple of essay practices. How can I improve my writing skills besides reading and writing everyday?

Hi! Thanks for asking. Reading and writing every day is actually the best possible way to improve your writing. I’m also trying my best to read and write every day this summer. In addition to improving your writing it just makes life better.

Here are some other things I tell my students:

* Reread the writers you love, and pay attention to what you love about their writing. Look at how they structure their sentences and paragraphs and the kinds of words and images they use. Notice what gives you chills or a glow. Try copying their style when you write sometimes— not because you have to be exactly like them, but because it’s good practice to try different ways of writing.

* Take notes on life. Carry a notebook with you everywhere or just text yourself notes on your phone when you see things you want to write about or think of a sentence you want to keep.

* Write for the people in your life. Share your writing with friends or publish it in a school paper or magazine.

* Write letters and emails that are labors of love.

* Some good books to get from the library are Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark (which has exercises for you to try at the end of every chapter), Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style (ideally illustrated by Maira Kalman because her paintings are so beautiful!), and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird (which is about the creative process in general).

I hope this helps!

Alien Encounter

“I mean, I’ve never had an alien walk up to me, but I’ve definitely had UFO encounters. I’ve had all sorts of psychic experiences, shamanic experiences, that really suggest there are interdimensional agents playing with the nature of space and time.” I profiled extraterrestrialist Daniel Pinchbeck for Document Journal last summer and forgot to post the piece when it went online. Enjoy! or shudder in schadenfreude, whichever you prefer.

Not so much a question but a praise. I love what you said about adults (I am also in my 30's) reading YA books in your write-up about TFIOS. Several books that touched me lately have been YA books. You said what I have been trying to articulate.

Thank you! I don’t understand why people are prejudiced against YA; if books speak to you, then you should read them!

It’s always nice to get positive feedback!

It’s always nice to get positive feedback!

Why We Read The Fault in Our Stars

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I wrote about cancer, writing, and friendship for the LA Review of Books.

Ginger Rogers and Purple Passion 

Ginger Rogers and Purple Passion 

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William James on Depression Before SSRI's

Are Oyster Knives the Key to Our Souls?

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    Oysters are the official food of the Hopper cistern. No Cisternfun or Cisternfest occasion would be complete without them. (An instance of Cisternfun requires a quorum of 2 or 3 sisters; a full-fledged Cisternfest requires 4 or 5). All of us live near oysters (Northwest, Gulf Coast, or New England), and today I discovered that three of us live in places with eponymous oyster knives. As I read the descriptions of said lethal cutlery I began to suspect that perhaps our oyster knives were a kind of horoscope:

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This weekend I made a summer CSA feast with heart-shaped biscuits.

This weekend I made a summer CSA feast with heart-shaped biscuits.

In the Orchard

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I come from a family that believes in regret, inertia, resignation, and fatalism. Luckily these are not the only things it believes in— we also practice unconditional love, enthusiasm, generosity, and wordplay— but on any given day my familial melancholy can feel like the most inexorable part of my legacy, as present as a skeletal ache on a rainy day.

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elisehu:

Found outside a random bar in Denver #pmdmc #public

elisehu:

Found outside a random bar in Denver #pmdmc #public

(via npr)