Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 07:42:46 -0500 (EST)
It is the beginning of a new term. A penetrating and pervasive sour mist of regret hangs over the campus instead of an embracing, sweet, billowing cloud of rejoice.
It is the beginning of a new term. There is little sparkle in my colleagues eyes; their step is flat; their pace is lingering; their voice is unexcited.
It is the beginning of a new term. So many of them--far too many of them--take deep forlorn sighs, move in disappointing slow motion, shake their drooped heads, resignly mutter barely audible phrases about the break between quarters than has just ended: "too soon," "not ready," "more to do," "too short," "couldn't finish."
What are they talking about? Well, It's not teaching. And yet....it is.
I remember reading a recent article in CHANGE by David Kirp of Berkeley. Among the things he mentioned was that among the definitions of "work" listed in the academic dictionary "teaching" is not among them.
What are they talking about? Well, it's not teaching. And yet....it is.
No matter what you read about the awakening of interesting in teaching in higher education--the growing number of conferences on teaching, the glowing mission statements incorporating commitments to teaching, the notices of position openings with their statement emphasizing teaching, the on-campus offices of faculty development or centers of teaching and learning, the awards recognizing excellence in teaching, the increase in the number of "how to" books--we live in an academic culture where those professors who devote their time and energies to teaching still are treated as something like smokers: stained and smelly, lower order of people tolerated but confined to restricted, designated out-of-the-way areas.
But, to avoid this reality, a lot of professors--often supported by administrators interested in generating income, creating image, acquiring reputation, and writing glitzy annual reports--protect or delude themselves with a camouflaging academic doublespeak. So, once having been fluent in that language, I thought I would act as a translator of some of the more pronounced complaints that professors are forever bantering about:
"I couldn't get any work done today."
"I need to have 'my' time to work."
"I want to get another position."
"The teaching load is too heavy."
"There's just not enough time in a day."
"I'm going to drop this project from my syllabus."
"I can't be concerned with each student's problems."
"I need a block of time to work."
"Students don't ____________________(fill in the blank) these days"
"I had a lousy day today!"
"I was hired as a Professor of......"
"I am a Professor of....."
"The students were in my office all day."
"I want that promotion."
"I have to get tenure."
"I have to pass post-tenure review."
"They tell me that I pay too much attention to students."
"It's break time. Now I can do my work."
"The term is starting too soon. I didn't get enough work done."
"I've got work to do."
"My work isn't finished,"
"I am a good teacher."
"I can teach."
Make it a good day. --Louis-- Louis Schmier firstname.lastname@example.org Department of History http://www.halcyon.com/arborhts/louis.html Valdosta State University Valdosta, GA 31698 /~\ /\ /\ 912-333-5947 /^\ / \ / /~ \ /~\__/\ / \__/ \/ / /\ /~ \ /\/\-/ /^\___\______\_______/__/_______/^\ -_~ / "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\ _ _ / don't practice on mole hills" -\____