Is there a way to begin the very first post for a brand-new blog that doesn’t sound as if the reader is witnessing an educational film from the 1950s or 60s?  You know the ones, right?  We watched them in elementary school, and they always began with the actor playing the scientist/professor/narrator working busily, when suddenly he (it was always a he in these films) seems to recognize that there is someone else in the room and says, “Oh, hello!  I didn’t see you there.  Would you like me to show you what I’ve been working on?”

I’d love to find a way to avoid this, if I could.

I suppose I could jump right in and tell you that my name is Josh Eyler; that I live in Fairfax, VA; and that I work in the Center for Teaching Excellence at George Mason University.  But you could discover that information in my profile, and you would probably find my use of semicolons to be unnecessary or pretentious.

What if I started with a joke?  My lovely wife and I had dinner with some good friends and their daughters a few nights ago, and one of the girls dazzled us with an impressive repertoire of knock-knock jokes.  If I began this way, though, you might get the wrong impression about this blog, and you would certainly believe me to be funnier than I actually am.  Who needs that kind of pressure?

How about this:  Higher education in America is at a tipping point right now.  Budget crises, rhetorical assaults by politicians, high-profile books asserting that colleges and universities are ineffective, and consumerism threaten to derail this vital part of our society.

I want to write about teaching and learning, then, not just because I am passionate about them, but because I think they are the ultimate solution to this difficult problem.  If we focus on creating transformative educational experiences for our students and on supporting all the instructors who teach in our classrooms (and I do mean ALL of them—both part-time and full-time), we will be taking the steps necessary to right the ship.  Great teaching and engaged learning go a very long way.

I also hope to use this blog to talk a bit about the humanities and my chosen field of medieval studies, but within the larger context of higher education.

So what do you think?  Did that work for an opening?  If not, I have a knock-knock joke I can tell you.

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