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Aysha Bagchi

Sense and Nonsense: Pathways for Angels

At a Faculty Senate meeting last November, the co-chairs of SUES (the Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford) presented a draft document proposing three broad and overlapping aims of a Stanford education: first, the acquisition and creation of knowledge; second, developing intellectual and practical skills; and third, helping equip students to live creative, responsible and reflective lives...

A Taste of India

  I was in India over the break traveling with friends and visiting family who live there (I went to Delhi, Agra, Kolkata and Pune). I made a few videos to share a glimpse of India with Daily blog readers. Below is a map showing where these cities are and four videos: the first is…

MLK Day

  My column this week will jump off from reflections on MLK day, but I wanted to write a blog post pointing to Matt Miller’s and Thomas Schnaubelt’s lovely op-ed that appeared yesterday on The Daily’s website building off of the idea of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Matt and Thomas…

Sense and Nonsense: Diversity and Friendship

Tarrou asks, then, that they make this time on the terrace their “hour of friendship.” He proceeds to tell Rieux his life story, emphasizing the experiences that led him to this town and motivate him to combat the plague. For one fleeting hour, he tries to be seen by his friend...

Sense and Nonsense: Making the DREAM a Reality

The DREAM Act (Senate Bill 729 and House Bill 1751) could come up for a vote as early as Thursday. If passed, the act would allow undocumented college students and young people serving in the military who were brought to the U.S. before the age of 16 to apply for temporary legal status with the potential for U.S. citizenship.

Sense and Nonsense: Masters of Our Fate

President Hennessy ended his freshman convocation speech this year with a quote from William Ernest Henley’s 1875 poem, “Invictus,” which reads: “It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”

Abolish Football or Beat Cal?

  During a commercial break in Stanford’s football game last week, a friend showed me the Wikipedia page of Charles William Eliot, Harvard’s president from 1869 to 1909. Eliot is credited with many reforms at Harvard including pushing against racial and religious prejudice and transforming the school into a preeminent research institution. One of his…

Sense and Nonsense: Grades and Learning

The point of education is deep learning, learning that is integrated into how we think and understand, that is multiplied outside the classroom and placed in moral and reflective contexts. Letter grades are there to provide a backdrop incentive for more of that learning to happen...

Sense and Nonsense: Altruism Without Virtue

It seems strange to juxtapose those two ideas, altruism and virtue. But that’s what I’m about to do. I want to suggest Stanford students are, by and large, overflowing with altruism but lacking in virtue. And I want to suggest this is a problem, for both altruism’s and virtue’s sakes...

Sense and Nonsense: The Meaning of Teaching

Whenever I reflect on the greatest teachers in my life, the idea of discussing why we should value teaching seems silly. It feels like devoting energy to discussing why universities should admit women or provide financial aid. To those lucky enough to have had it, the value of great teaching is felt everyday. The question seems profoundly obvious...

Teach for America’s Recruits and Mission

  An article from The Chronicle of High Education, “What Are You Going to Do With That?” by William Deresiewicz has been circling around among many of my friends on Facebook and even on a list serve. In the piece, Deresiewicz argues that Stanford students are unimaginative about our ends in life, that we have…

Sense and Nonsense: Too Scared to Believe

When it comes to believing, there are two dangerous pitfalls. Dogmatism is the traditional one, where people know what they know so wholeheartedly that they never appreciate complexity and their views never change. We have been fighting that problem for centuries...

Sense and Nonsense: Educating for Souls?

About a month ago, a professor asked me: why is it important that students develop and cultivate internal realms? He meant to get me to reflect on my belief that fostering earnest, including critical, self-reflection in all students should be a paramount aim of a Stanford education. Here goes...

Legacy Preferencing in Admissions Should Go

  Richard Kalenberg wrote an op-ed in the New York Times last week condemning affirmative action at universities for the children of alumni and arguing that legacy preferencing has not received the kind of legal and public scrutiny it deserves. Kalenberg cited three typical justifications for legacy preferencing: building loyalty among alumni, sustaining tradition and…

Friendship for the Modern Student

  In his Friendship in an Age of Economics blog post in the New York Times’s philosophy series, The Stone, Todd May discusses the non-economic character of friendship, which he calls friendship’s “deepest and most fragile characteristic.” Unlike consumer or entrepreneurial relationships, he argues, friendships follow a rhythm that is more subtle than the pleasure…

Sense and Nonsense: Taming the Demon Within

Our political world is filled with issues that provoke visceral reactions. Bring up gay marriage, immigration reform, gun control, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, welfare assistance, war, foreign aid, abortion and any number of other issues and you will trigger some of the most emotionally charged reactions.
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