Midweek Teaser

Summer is here already, and while some people are thinking “vacation,” we are still hard at work here in the Ivory Tower Boiler Room (sometimes we are working from a sunlit folding chair). A last minute change in plans meant that last week, instead of our Writers’ Round Table, you heard Adam and Andrew talking to Dr Natalie Morse about whether you should go to grad school. And so this week we’ll bring you the Round Table, where the four of us sit down and talk about our theme for the month. If you would like a preview, take a look at Adam’s Big Think for July, which kicks off our month-long look at teaching and public scholarship with a discussion about what it means to be a good teacher. On Saturday you’ll hear all four of us address the topic again, as well as an important one for our group: what does it mean to teach in a public setting rather than in a university? We’ll talk about teachers–the great ones, the terrible ones, the oddly memorable ones. And we’ll talk about learning too; learning, after all, doesn’t stop at the classroom door. 

The thing about being in this collective, about being a part of the intentional community, is that we are always immersed in a teaching and learning environment, though an informal one. Each of us will bring up examples of things we learn from the other. For example, Andrew used the phrase “embrace the and” the other day, as a shorthand for accepting differences and disagreements as a natural part of friendship; but also as a shorthand for accepting paradoxes and inconsistencies within one’s own personality; of course he gave credit to Erika for putting that phrase in his mind. Where did this exchange of ideas come from? Not from a classroom certainly, unless our group-chats are a classroom. Which, in some ways, they are.

So come join us in our Round Table discussion, and if there’s anything you would like to add to the conversation, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Have a story about a teacher–or about being a teacher–that has stuck with you? Because part of the mandate of public scholarship is that we want to learn something from you.

On that note, we’d like to announce that our public scholarship project is about to get a lot more public, thanks to our first official sponsor: Words Matter Bookstore in Pitman, New Jersey. We’ll give you the details of what that means soon, but for now: they are an independent bookstore, who are just about a year old (they’ll celebrate their first birthday a few months after we celebrate ours,) and we are over the moon at the prospect of being able to collaborate with them. We are also excited to announce that the denizens of the Ivory Tower Boiler Room are gearing up for an interview with Lev Raphael this Friday (release date tba)!

Let us know in the comments section: what’s your proudest teaching moment? What’s a great teaching memory you have? Share with us in the comments-we might share your story in our episode…we’d love to hear more stories from you. Also: let us know of any transformative, life-affirming, or picturesque moments you’ve had in independent bookstores.


Big Cat, Little Cat

Words by Adam Katz, photo by Erika Grumet, starring Frob as Big Cat and Widget as Little Cat.




Description: Two cats, both alike in dignity. On the left, a large orange with darker orange stripes takes up half the frame. On the right, a small grey with darker grey stripes, takes up less than a quarter. The orange smiles down at the grey and asks: “Little cat, do you ever feel impostor syndrome?” The grey looks out of the frame with an air of weltschmerz as he answers: “You mean the sinking feeling that my friends aren’t really my friends, and my supposed accomplishments are the empty mummery of a two-bit charlatan? Uh. No. Why? Do you?”

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