Talk Back: Responses to our July|August Issue

{July | August 2012}

Flipping the Classroom

Our story on the seismic change in teaching (“Reading, Writing, and Revolution”) that has students doing traditional “homework” in class and “classwork” at home got readers thinking but coming to varied conclusions.

Donna Anglin loved the flipping concept, writing, “Fantastic article. These are the kinds of changes some of us have been seeking for a long time.”

Student Justin Daniel Owens loved the idea but cautioned about the time crunch individual teachers face in creating online resources. “I know a few teachers who have been trying to implement flipped mastery learning strategies,” he wrote. “As far as I know, it has been successful—there was a higher percentage of A’s and B’s. I wish we’d had it for my AP calculus class, but lesson videos are difficult for one teacher to create alone.”

Carl Hooker, BS ’98, called for flipping to become more collaborative. “While flip-teaching done right is a great concept, it shouldn’t turn into a second shift of the same meaningless work,” he said. “It needs to be rooted in engaging, creative concepts, and it shouldn’t always be done in isolation.” A reader named Lynne was skeptical of the effect digital connectivity is having on the brain. “Yes, all this use of digital devices suggests some kind of revolution. In fact, it seems to be changing the reading brain into a digital brain,” she wrote. “But knowledge is more than data—that’s why the humanities seem to have such a problem adapting to this revolution. The digital age is changing the way we think about knowledge, but we’ve forgotten that the most important kind of knowledge is ‘knowing ourselves.’”

Secrets of the Maya

Readers were surprised to learn UT employs the world’s leading expert on Maya hieroglyphs, David Stuart.

“Excellent article! I never knew that ‘13 bak’tuns will end’ was the reset button for time,” said Cyndi McLendon Smith, BA ’91. “Unless Gabriel is scheduled to blow his horn this December,the ’Horns will keep on hooking!”

Tracy Gregg, BFA ’94, was delighted to read about her former professor, Linda Schele. “I loved reading about Dr. Stuart’s fascinating discoveries. Even more so, I loved seeing reference to Linda Schele,” Gregg said. “Her enthusiasm for the field was evident. Just goes to prove that UT always has the best of the best.”

Reader Daniel Wall was pleased to see the 2012 apocalypse myth debunked. “I wish the History Channel would read this piece,” he said. “They have at least one special on 2012 that is full of camel dung, and people think it must be real because it’s on the History Channel.”

Come Hotel or High Water

Barbara Stephens, BS ’84, MA ’90, Life Member, enjoyed our profile of ultra-hip hotelier Liz Lambert, BA ’85, JD ’91—but said the story was too critical of Lambert’s West Texas roots. “I grew up with [Lambert] in Odessa, and I recall her creative spirit,” Stephens said. “It’s been great fun reading about her success. [But] I was deeply offended by writer Mike Agresta’s choice to end the article with a suggestion by Steve Wertheimer that anyone from Odessa could not possibly possess Liz’s talent. To outright state that Odessa, the home of a University of Texas campus, is some backwater hick town reeks of East Texas elitism and fails to recognize the many contributions of West Texas citizens in arts and culture.”

From Pool to Table

What happens when an Olympic swimmer becomes a foodie?

 AJ Warner responded warmly to our story on Garrett Weber-Gale, BS ’08, Life Member. “What an inspiring story about pursuing your passion,” Warner said. “If everyone would find that one thing that they love and pursue it with all their convictions, the world would be a much better place! Thoughtful eating and exercise can and will change your life for the better.”

Weber-Gale’s mother, Diane Weber, couldn’t resist sharing her pride in her son. “Last year, someone asked Garrett, ‘What are you most proud of in life?’” Weber recalled. “Everyone thought he would say his two Olympic gold medals, but he didn’t. He said, ‘Graduating UT.’ That pretty much says it all.”

Consider Class Based Admissions

Should universities move beyond a focus on racial diversity to emphasize economic diversity, as editor Lynn Freehill asked? Readers pushed back on several points.

One reader, Karen, wrote, “I don’t like the policy in place that favors minorities when all things otherwise are equal, but I think ‘class’ is just as discriminating.”

Reader Shara said that while she doesn’t fully agree with class-based admissions, “It certainly is more fair than race-based admission, which is basically, well, racist. How about just letting the people with the best grades or scores in first? Those people do exist in the ‘lower classes,’ too, you know.”

Reader Phillip Hawley, BS ’57, called for education leaders to thoroughly re-examine diversity’s value. “Whether they are right or wrong, many reasonable people ask if it’s proper to discriminate in favor of one group by discriminating against another,” he wrote. “I don’t believe either side is right or wrong, but a balanced discussion of the cost/benefits of ‘diversity’ would be better than just polemic.”

The GPS Dot: Friend or Foe

In response to our story on the benefits and dangers of evolving GPS technology, readers called for using the GPS dot for good.

“One obvious benefit: the aged,” said Tom Lea, BJ ’80. “Would enhance most emergency monitoring systems, especially for those with dementia.”

Reader Sue Cypress agreed: “This would be a godsend for families of people suffering from Alzheimer’s, like mine. Please make this technology available now!”

Paul Beaver, BS ’71, thought the threat of GPS was old news. “The potential problem with GPS has been known since the 1940s,” he said. “See the old Dick Tracy movie Serials.”

Alcalde Love/Hate

Hayley Gillespie, PhD ’11, won our fave reader of the Moment award (which, admittedly, we created on the fly) with this note: “I’ve really been enjoying The Alcalde lately. It’s not afraid to address what UT could be doing better but is also good at highlighting what UT is doing right. Especially liked the Neil Degrasse-Tyson interview, since I’m into all things science. Great job!”

Alex Wheatley, BA ’70, Life Member, was right up there in our affections, too, with this note: “I always read the The Alcalde cover to cover. However, this current issue is especially well balanced, with articles that reflect the entire Longhorn community’s interests. Since I have a degree in Latin American studies, ‘Decoding Doomsday’ was a thrill to read. Thanks for helping me stay connected to the Longhorn Nation.”

Pat Mann, BS ’56, MS ’57, Life Member, took exception, saying, “I just received my Alcalde. What have you done to it editorially? It is no improvement!”


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