English 092

Essay #1

"What Selfie Sticks Really Tell Us about Ourselves" by Kate Murphy

"Quality Time, Redefined" by Alex Williams

"Keep Your Thumbs Still When I'm Talking to You" by David Carr

"The Flight from Conversation" by Sherry Turkle

Essay #3

"Help Thy Neighbor and Go Straight to Prison" by Nicholas Kristof

"A Few Shotgun Shells Landed a Man 15 Years in Prison" by Todd South


FAMM Article about Mandatory Sentencing

Essay #4

"Is it Wrong to Let Children Do Extreme Sports" by Jon Lackman

re: When KIds Fly

Wall of Remembrance

Essay #5

"Celebrating Forefather of Graffiti" by Randy Kennedy

"Cities Report Surge in Graffiti" by Adam Nagourney

"Writing's on the Wall Now (Art is, Too, For Now)" by Robin Finn

"Street Art Way Below the Street" by Jasper Rees

More images of Underbelly Project

"Now Everyone Can Read the Writing on the Wall" by Randy Kennedy

Online exercises


Previous topics

"Don't Indulge. Be Happy" by Dunn and Norton

"The Busy Trap" by Tim Kreider

"Bad Food? Tax it, and Subsidize Vegetables" by Mark Bittman

"Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?" by Mark Bittman


A New Thrift
"Adding Up the Cost of Luxury"

What is it About 20-Somethings? by Robin Marantz Henig


from "The College Calculation" by David Leonhardt

Earnings may be a flawed measure of an education’s value, but they’re about the only tangible measure we have. And the work that labor economists have done suggests that colleges do indeed deserve credit for much of the earnings gaps between their graduates and everyone else. The median earnings of full-time workers with bachelor’s degrees was nearly $47,000 in 2007, according to the Census Bureau. The median for someone who had attended college but failed to get a four-year degree was nearly $33,000, and the median for a high-school graduate was nearly $27,000. Compare these numbers with the typical education debt that a college student has on graduation day — $20,000 — and it’s clear that a college education is worth the debt. McPherson slyly points out that even the pundits and professors who suggest otherwise seem to understand this; they tend to send their children to college, often to quite expensive ones.

from "Can the Right Kinds of Play Teach Self-Control?" by Paul Tough:

Over the last few years, a new buzz phrase has emerged among scholars and scientists who study early-childhood development, a phrase that sounds more as if it belongs in the boardroom than the classroom: executive function. Originally a neuroscience term, it refers to the ability to think straight: to order your thoughts, to process information in a coherent way, to hold relevant details in your short-term memory, to avoid distractions and mental traps and focus on the task in front of you. And recently, cognitive psychologists have come to believe that executive function, and specifically the skill of self-regulation, might hold the answers to some of the most vexing questions in education today.

The ability of young children to control their emotional and cognitive impulses, it turns out, is a remarkably strong indicator of both short-term and long-term success, academic and otherwise. In some studies, self-regulation skills have been shown to predict academic achievement more reliably than I.Q. tests. The problem is that just as we’re coming to understand the importance of self-regulation skills, those skills appear to be in short supply among young American children. In one recent national survey, 46 percent of kindergarten teachers said that at least half the kids in their classes had problems following directions. In another study, Head Start teachers reported that more than a quarter of their students exhibited serious self-control-related negative behaviors, like kicking or threatening other students, at least once a week. Walter Gilliam, a professor at Yale’s child-study center, estimates that each year, across the country, more than 5,000 children are expelled from pre-K programs because teachers feel unable to control them.

There is a popular belief that executive-function skills are fixed early on, a function of genes and parenting, and that other than medication, there’s not much that teachers and professionals can do to affect children’s impulsive behavior. In fact, though, there is growing evidence that the opposite is true, that executive-function skills are relatively malleable — quite possibly more malleable than I.Q., which is notoriously hard to increase over a sustained period. In laboratory studies, research psychologists have found that with executive function, practice helps; when children or adults repeatedly perform basic exercises in cognitive self-regulation, they get better at it. But when researchers try to take those experiments out of the lab and into the classroom, their success rate is much lower. Angela Duckworth, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, has spent the last seven years trying to find reliable, repeatable methods to improve self-control in children. When I spoke to her recently, she told me about a six-week-long experiment that she and some colleagues conducted in 2003 with 40 fifth-grade students at a school in Philadelphia.

Possible topics for essay #3:

What are the challenges of time-management for first-semester students at DCC?

What are the distractions for first-semester students at DCC? How can we overcome them?

How would you evaluate your executive function abilities?

How is this semester different from ________________?

How do we balance school, work, family, friends, hobbies, exercise etc.?

What is motivating us to come to college? Are we motivated externally of internally?

What should we do when we begin to feel overwhelmed at DCC?

4-5 paragraphs
Try to discuss one of the mentors at some point in the essay



Online exercises

Here's a selection from The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler

and a speech he gave in nearby Hudson, NY.

Fuel economy site