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As a professor, I want to believe every student who enters my class wants to succeed. Sixteen years of teaching have taught me otherwise.

Most students do enter college to learn something of value, grow as human beings, and encounter strategies to help them succeed in their chosen careers. Yet others amble through the halls of academia for the wrong reasons (because Mom and Dad made them go to college), don’t seem to care if they succeed or not, or operate under the misguided impression that they can get a degree without earning one. This article is for them.


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A Poem for the Found Lost Souls

I take my life straight

On the rocks

With grenadine syrup

You never know who’s going to show up

In the morning sun:

the kid with super-speed

Or your brother

in the valley of mountains

Roger Daltrey got one past the censors

When he shouted, “Who the fuck are you?”

And Jim Croce scandalized

My young world

When he sang “the whole damn town”

In “Bad Bad Leroy Brown.”

But rock stars get away with shit

The rest of us must be more genteel

With the words we choose

And the plans we…

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A Poem for Anti-Intellectualism and Reverse Snobbery

Pink Floyd put it well

When they said they didn’t need “no education” —

They referred to teachers

Who berated children,

Who used arbitrary authority

To control weaker human beings.

It’s easy to assume abuse is thought control,

All teachers petty tyrants,

The purpose of education the diploma.

“Pick up a gun,” they tell me. “Put on a uniform,

The government will pay for more education.”

“Great!” I say. “But what if I’m deaf or have flat feet?

What if I’m a conscientious objector?”

“You’re supposed to be smarter than me,” they say.

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An essay on change, stars, and rock ’n’ roll saints

The Dream: The 1980s version of the rock band Jefferson Starship had reunited and were performing “Sorry Me, Sorry You,” a song from their 1984 album Nuclear Furniture. They appeared to be rehearsing for a music video or concert, though no one else was around.

The band’s leader, Paul Kantner, had died, but the other members of that era — vocalists Grace Slick and Mickey Thomas, lead guitarist Craig Chaquico, bass and keyboard alternates David Freiberg and Pete Sears, and drummer Donny Baldwin — were all present and looking much…

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A Poem for these Times

I grew up in the middle of the Midwest

Where football is perfection

And working on cars is what men did,

Where we read books about people on the coasts

And in other lands who lived their dreams

And became their dreams and created dreams

For others.

I live in the middle of the Midwest

Where we look down on people who live on the coasts

And in urban areas, where people who trill their r’s are exotic

And people with dark skin know their place

And God meant marriage for a man and a…

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On Expectations, Elections, and Pop Culture Messiahs

Language warning: This essay uses a four-letter word twice. If you don’t like four-letter words or the repeated use of same, move on.

The dream: John Lennon in 1967 stepped out of the Indica Art Gallery in London. He was virtually unrecognizable as the mop-topped Beatles guitarist. His hair was thick but swept over to one side of his forehead. He wore granny glasses for the first time and sported a bright blue shirt and black sweater vest. As he glanced down the street, a man approached. Behaving as a gentleman, Lennon held…

Greg Gildersleeve

Author of super-hero/sci books, False Alarm (2015), The Power Club (2017) and The Secret Club (2020). He lives on the fringes of the middle of the Midwest.

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