Why students shouldn’t write on a smartphone

If you believe the Boston Globe or the Wall Street Journal, students are increasingly writing papers on their phones. While there are some benefits, teachers ought to discourage it, since it interferes with reflection and promotes a pernicious first-draft writing habit. The articles on this topic are anecdotal Like most trend pieces, both of these articles are … Continued

Seeking professors who teach writing without bullshit

I want to change the way the next generation writes. If you teach them, I’d like to help you. See if this description fits you: You teach writing. That could be English composition, marketing communications, public relations, technical writing, journalism, or any other non-fiction writing class. You are teaching a class in Fall of 2016. … Continued

The true power of links: brief, pointed, powerful writing

We still write as if people will read our work in print, but they don’t — they read on glass screens. As a result, you should include links in everything you write, from emails to reports. It will make your writing shorter and more powerful. The versatility of links As a blogger, I use links all the … Continued

Hal Varian’s timeless insights on thinking

In December of 1994, economist Hal Varian, who is currently Google’s chief economist, wrote a paper called “How to Build an Economic Model in Your Spare Time.” Ignore the subject matter. It should have been called “How to think clearly.” His advice hasn’t lost relevance in the 21-plus years since he wrote it. (Thanks to Cory Doctorow at … Continued

The 6 benefits of thinking like a mathematician

When I was young, I was certain I would be a mathematician. I still think like one. You should, too — and you don’t have to learn math to do it. A little background: I was an outstanding math student in high school and college, won an NSF Fellowship, and entered the math Ph.D. program at … Continued

How extra words undermine trust: a case study

Fear makes people hide their meaning with extra words. It backfires. We know you’re afraid. Adding words make people less likely to trust you. A friend forwarded me an excellent example: a 414-word missive about financial improprieties in the school district of Northborough/Southborough, Massachusetts. I know how this letter must have developed: a panicked set of people at the … Continued

Why and how I homeschool my children

My wife Kimberley and I decided to homeschool our children. There’s only one reason: we think they learn better this way. Since people are curious about homeschooling, I’d like tell you how it works. Homeschooling is a personal preference. My intention here is not to change anyone’s mind or win anyone over, but simply to explain myself. I am … Continued

In the #IStandWithAhmed story, conflicting principles confound the principal

There’s a lot more going on in Irving, Texas than a clever boy with a home-made clock and brown skin. Look close, and the story of #IStandWithAhmed — and the letter the principal sent to parents — reveals how America is cracking apart. Here are a couple: America’s strength comes from our diversity, since nearly all of us come … Continued