Dialogue — May 2021

May 2021

Reading time min

Getting Schooled

Our March cover story focused on K–12 education during the pandemic, including aspects of distance learning we might want to keep.

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March 2021 STANFORD magazine cover

We’ve been given this unique opportunity to redesign learning. To think outside the box, to move away from a century-old archaic assembly-line education system. Many are mourning academic loss. But is that all we’ve lost this year? #remotelearning 
Monica Bhattacharya, MA ’11


How do we engage students in virtual classrooms? Acknowledge every student by name in class, include community-building activities that motivate students to turn cameras on and more good ideas in this article. #education
Amy Gillett, ’91, MA ’92

I find your article magnificent and worthy of national distribution. It carries such a productive and positive and significant line of thinking, so desperately needed in these days of annihilating history, etc. Two key pieces of your message are “Everything about education has been disrupted. This is a moment for reinventing school as we restart it” and “We are giving them a solution that will work right now through remote learning, but we absolutely want them to continue this solution when everybody is back.”
Sara B. Nerlove, MA ’63, PhD ’69
Safety Harbor, Florida

The primary lesson learned from the pandemic is that nothing happens with regard to our educational system unless the teachers unions dictate it. The important lesson learned should be that we fund students, not schools. All the harmful issues raised in the article were felt to a much greater extent by students confined to public schools, run by unions, that chose to remain closed (and continue to do so!). Private, parochial and charter schools continue to teach and support their students in spite of the pandemic crisis. The power of the unions needs to be challenged by real school choice.
Steven Johnson, Parent ’19
Incline Village, Nevada

Food for Thought

In March, we profiled soul food scholar Adrian Miller, ’91, whose latest book is about barbecue. 

Nicely done, but . . . as an ethical vegan, I found this article very difficult to read.
Amy Halpern-Laff, JD ’85
Palo Alto, California

A Good Ribbing

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Adrian Miller holding bbq food

I’ve been teased about @stanfordmag calling me the “Bard of #Barbecue,” but I think they are on to something. I need cool intros when I start my next book tour. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far: 
The Ruler of Rib Tips 
The Sultan of Sauce 
The Potentate of Potato Salad
Adrian Miller, ’91


Grade A suggestions included: 
The Baron of Babyback 
The Bishop of Brisket 
The Crown Prince of Coleslaw 
Director of Dry Rub 
The Head Hog 
The Lord of the Greens 
The Mac Daddy of Mac ’n’ Cheese 
Maestro of Maillard 
Sauce Boss 

Read them all on Miller's website. 

Photo: Paul Miller

Past and Present

The March issue included a letter that characterized the magazine as “lightweight” and an article with tips on empathy from psychology professor Jamil Zaki.

I write to express full support for the critical letter you published in the latest issue of Stanford. 

Your magazine used to inform me about much fascinating work, study and advances going on at the university, plus some news of alumni. 

Now, for some unfathomable reason, your focus is on emotions, student feelings and lightweight articles on serious topics with a Stanford slant such as the Mars rover

In the March issue, to give some examples, we have two pages devoted to an unknown senior who plays a guitar in a band, two pages to an “empathy scholar” telling me to be kind, four pages given over to “frosh” describing student emotions (sample: “I’m dead all the time because I’m sleep-deprived” and “I definitely cried weeks one through four”), four pages on LGBTQ health, and an entirely speculative and overlong eight pages on [education and] the COVID pandemic that includes the amazing revelation “by definition, everyone is affected by a pandemic.” Yet exactly how Stanford University has coped in the past 12 months remains a mystery.

You can do much better than this—because you used to!
Robin Knight, MA ’68
London, England

As a retired theater teacher, I was delighted by your article’s confirmation of my long-held conviction that theater training is training for life—life as a more empathic, sensitive human. I took as a mantra the phrase “Nothing human can be foreign to me.”
Suzanne Adams, ’57
Charlotte, North Carolina

Knifely Done

A March story marked Ana Ziadeh’s 50 years with Stanford Dining.

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Ana Ziadeh wearing a chef outfit and holding a knife

Oh, my! I was a hasher at Wilbur for all four of my years at Stanford, and I remember working in the kitchen with Ana!
Anastasia Cronin McNabb, ’87


Stanford is more than the students and faculty. Love this feature.
Julius Paras, ’91

Photo: Erin Attkisson

Post Haste

An online article put the much-ballyhooed USPS into historical context.

As Professor David M. Kennedy, ’63, has noted, before the New Deal, the postal service was almost the only regular contact the average citizen had with the federal government. And in the days before radio, TV and the internet, delivery of newspapers by the postal service was vital to the many people who lived in rural areas, far from where the newspapers were published.
Merlin Dorfman, PhD ’69
San Jose, California

Allergy Angel

Our March feature on professor of medicine Kari Nadeau’s treatment of children with severe food allergies resonated with families. 

Your article made me cry with hope! God works in mysterious ways.
Maile Cuffel
Dallas, Texas

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