Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I got little

Update: the student never called. This frustrates me. I've been picking away at the letter but just feeling kind of hopeless about it. 

It's cold in my office (19 C by the thermometer I have in here, which is about 66 F. By contrast, I have my home thermostat set on 72 F right now because of the whole "feeling cold" thing). I have to be in here for at least a while today - a student is calling in (someone from some distance away and who is also working) at 9 for advice on class enrollment.

I also have to write the cover letter for my post-tenure review packet and I'm just struggling with it. Part of it is that I resist the whole "upselling myself" thing - where I brag on stuff I think everybody should be doing (e.g., handing back papers with lots of feedback on them) as if it's something outstanding, but that's how you play the game. Part of it is that the packet I'm using as a model, I feel inadequate by comparison. I don't know. I just kind of hate doing this whole thing. We do annual performance reviews every year and it feels to me like PTR is just another "let's make more work for the professors" thing - not only do we have to do one every three years, we have to serve on committees for our colleagues - I think I was on four committees last year. This year it's just me and one other guy and I'm on his committee and I can't very well be on my own, but....I don't know. I understand that some departments work badly and the faculty don't trust their chair's assessment of them, but I feel like, departments that work well together shouldn't be punished (by everyone being made to do more work) than those that work poorly.

Oh well. It could be worse. At one point they were talking about requiring everyone to sit in on a class or two of everyone else's and evaluate their teaching and wow would that be uncomfortable given the vast differences in teaching style, and I suspect we'd get a little bit of that "Animal's School" thing going on, where we all felt pressured to conform to what everyone else was doing and wind up doing it badly, because it's not how we're comfortable or talented.

There was also talk of having an across-the-board checklist, where, for example, you "had" to have at least one paper published per year, etc., etc. And again, blanket solutions are generally bad - because each discipline is different. (The "one paper" rule got dropped when some people in the humanities pointed out that books were a much more common form of publication in their field, and books take longer....and anyway, requiring more of anything is just a way to get more low-quality output)

I also admit I wonder what fresh Hell is coming as higher ed marches ever farther down the path or corporatization and credentialing - I suppose in a way we brought this on ourselves, as our tuition goes up we have to "prove" that we're "worth it" and in our culture the way you prove you are "worth" anything is through money. So we have to prove our students get jobs, good jobs, and earn more money than they would without a college degree and my dream of a world where people pursue interests because they want to and not because it will make them wealthier ebbs ever further.

But yeah. I'm not feeling it. But I have to do it. I'm not even anxious about the dentist appointment this afternoon because I'm having to do this this morning.

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