Saturday, April 29, 2006

Post-Tenure Anxiety

I had one of the faculty members in the sciences come see me this week. He and I were both part of the seven or so people who went up for tenure this year. Only three people got it. I was one; he was not. He is going to appeal his tenure decision. From what I could gather his approach was going to be that people in the sciences and humanities are judged on different standards. He wanted to know how many articles I'd published, how many conferences I had presented at, and how many posters (?) I'd prepared.

At first I was offended. I felt like he was questioning why I deserved tenure. I did eventually realize that he was more interested in trying to show that he had done comparable work and he too deserved tenure. But it still caused me some anxiety. Had I just squeaked by? Were other people out there looking at my case and wondering 'How did she get it?'

I don't think this question is supposed to trouble me now - I've earned my stripes, I've paid my dues - but it still does. I want to go back to my dossier and make my case even stronger. Point out the merit of my publications and the quality of the conferences I'd attended. I want to show that I didn't just luck in tenure, but earned it. I hope this feeling eventually goes away and that I grow comfortable with tenure.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Some General Thoughts for the Day

1. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is out of control (SACS). My college is jumping through several hundred hoops so that we can be reaccredited. This includes some lame "culture of assessment" agenda that is forcing departments to write up mission statements with learning objectives and goals that can be assessed for each of our majors - because apparently the course syllabus and the assigning of a grade is not assessment, the creation of general education assessment committee that would insure that the gen. ed. courses are assessable - perhaps through review (and formal approval) of faculty syllabus by the administration, and who knows what other education school driven mandate.

2. I think a required "diversity training and Muslim-sensitivity training for faculty members" would be a painful experience. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against sensitivity, but it sounds like a play to extend campus speech codes. And won't it just lead to other sensitivity training seminars like - "conservative-sensitivity training for English professors" or "Intelligent design-sensitivity training for Biologists"?

3. Why do students become most concerned with their grades during finals, when it is too late to do anything to significantly change the outcome of a semester of slacking-off?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Best Jobs In America

I always suspected being a professor was near the top - but I think they only looked at the stress level of associate/full professors.

Money Magazine and rated careers on salary and job prospects. I think the number one job was computer engineer, but being a college professor came in at number 2.

GRADES: Stress: B / Flexibility: A / Creativity: A / Difficulty: C

Average pay: $81,491

10-year job growth: 31.39%

Total jobs 2004: 1,759,864 Forecast 2014: 2,312,403

Average annual growth (including new jobs and net replacement): 95,289

Career description : Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and vocational subjects beyond the high school level that may lead to a degree or to improvement in one’s knowledge or career skills. These teachers include college and university faculty, postsecondary career and technical education teachers, and graduate teaching assistants. Postsecondary administrators plan, direct, or coordinate research, instructional, student administration and services, and other educational activities at postsecondary institutions, including universities, colleges, and junior and community colleges.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Lecturing About the 1960s

I find it hard to lecture about the 1960s - the movements, the activism, the counterculture. I can do a mean lecture on the Great Society or Vietnam - but there is something about the sixties culture and society that I have a hard time getting a handle on.

I want to show the 1960s as different from, yet a reaction to the culture and values of the 1950s. I also want to demonstrate that not everyone embraced the more radical elements of 1960s and in some ways the election of 1968 was backlash against some of the cultural and social aspects of the period. However, I have a hard time doing these things without making the activists of period seem like caricaturews or exaggerations of real people. At the same time, let's face it the Yippies really were kinda strange.

I'll just muddle through it for tomorrow. Maybe when I revise in a couple of years, I'll have a better idea of how to handle it.

Monday, April 03, 2006

More Math and Reading Means Less History

Below is part of an article about how 71% of the nation's school districts have reduced the hours of instructional time spent on history, music, and other subjects to make more time for reading and math.

Schools Cut Back Subjects to Push Reading and Math

I really don't understand why history has to suffer to make time for reading. Why can't history be incorporated into reading lessons. I suspect that history students in college probably do almost as much reading as literature students. If schools need to devote tons of time to reading - just go ahead and make some of that reading historical. Surely this idea isn't that revolutionary.