Today our university is closed in response to the Titan winter storm, but I’m still working, grading papers, reviewing dissertation drafts, and the trying to get ahead of the loads of administrative work the is required for my job.
I was contemplating all of this when I came upon this article, published today in InsideHigherEd, which does a great job explaining why I’m working instead of enjoying that novel I’ve been dying to read all semester.
In Search of Lost Time
March 3, 2014As I am writing this article, I should be writing something else: an email to an editor, an email to an author, a letter of recommendation, notes for tomorrow’s classes, comments on students’ papers, comments on manuscripts, an abstract for an upcoming conference, notes for one of the books I’m working on. I cannot remember the last time I ended a day having crossed everything off my to-do list.Why do academics work so much?
1) Part of it is habit. When we’re just starting out, we learn to say “yes” to everything. Join this panel? Yes. Send article in to special issue? Yes. Write a book review? Yes. Join committee in professional organization? Yes. Indeed, we learn to look for things to say yes to. This is how you build your C.V. Go to conferences, publish, get involved. If you don’t do it, you won’t get that elusive tenure-track job. Then, should you become one of the few who get the job, you’ll need to maintain a level of production in order to get tenure. Should you get tenure, you’ll want one day to get promoted. If that happens, and you reach full professor, well, best to keep publishing … just in case. What if your university falls on hard times? Or you need to move? Tenure is good, but portable tenure is better. So you just get on that treadmill and never get off.
2) Part of it is economics. At my university we have no “cost of living” raises. We have merit raises, but only when the state budget allows. So you always want to be in the top tier — the “Highest Merit” group — just in case there’s money for a raise. And I’m speaking here as one of the lucky, tenured few. For adjuncts, the situation is more dire. Everywhere, they teach more classes and for less money just to make ends meet, and may not even manage to do that. Employed at the whim of the academic labor market, adjuncts are increasingly joining the ranks of the working poor.
3) Busy-ness is also built into the structure of academic work. The more you do and the longer you’re in the profession, the more opportunities and obligations accrue. Writing letters for colleagues and students, getting onto committees, contributing to a book edited by a contributor to the book you edited, giving invited talks, writing grant proposals, and so on. Some of this work is interesting (I enjoy traveling and giving talks, for example), but it’s still work.
Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2014/03/03/essay-why-faculty-members-work-so-much#ixzz2uvUWfklB
Inside Higher Ed
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern.
I love taking the train, even if it would make sense to fly. Trains are like ideal mobile offices. You have a view, the ability to walk and go out to lunch, but your away from your daily routine and interruptions.
Then today I read this on The Wire, so I guess I’m not alone:
Amtrak has begun offering “writers’ residencies” to, well, writers – long roundtrip rides aboard Amtrak trains dedicated solely for the purpose of writing.
After New York City-based writer Jessica Gross took the first ”test-run” residency, traveling from NYC to Chicago and back, Amtrak confirmed that it is indeed planning to turn the writers’ residencies into an established, long-term program, sending writers on trains throughout its network of routes.
First, let’s get it out of the way: The Wire is 100 percent on board with this idea. Pun intended, because we’re writers. We love writing, and we love trains, and we love them both together.
For those who question the value of college in this era of soaring student debt and high unemployment, the attitudes and experiences of today’s young adults—members of the so-called Millennial generation—provide a compelling answer. On virtually every measure of economic well-being and career attainment—from personal earnings to job satisfaction to the share employed full time—young college graduates are outperforming their peers with less education. And when today’s young adults are compared with previous generations, the disparity in economic outcomes between college graduates and those with a high school diploma or less formal schooling has never been greater in the modern era.
These assessments are based on findings from a new nationally representative Pew Research Center survey of 2,002 adults supplemented by a Pew Research analysis of economic data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The economic analysis finds that Millennial college graduates ages 25 to 321 who are working full time earn more annually—about $17,500 more—than employed young adults holding only a high school diploma. The pay gap was significantly smaller in previous generations.2 College-educated Millennials also are more likely to be employed full time than their less-educated counterparts (89% vs. 82%) and significantly less likely to be unemployed (3.8% vs. 12.2%).
Read the rest of this report: The Rising Cost of Not Going to College.
Video Posted on
Fantastic overview of how one can develop their creativity. The video (about 35 minutes) is worth you time. Creativity is not an ability (like IQ), it is a way of being. It is something that can be developed.
- Space (“You can’t become playful, and therefore creative, if you’re under your usual pressures.”)
- Time (“It’s not enough to create space; you have to create your space for a specific period of time.”)
- Patience (“Giving your mind as long as possible to come up with something original,” and learning to tolerate the discomfort of pondering time and indecision.”)
- Confidence (“Nothing will stop you being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake.”)
- Humor (“The main evolutionary significance of humor is that it gets up from the closed mode to the open mode quicker than anything else.”)
This post, published by Deb Werrlein in Inside Higher Ed takes a provocative look at the idea of following your passion as a reason for pursuing a Ph.D. in the Humanities in a time when very few successful Ph.D. recipients will find jobs in academia.
Given the dismal academic job market described by numerous writers, you’d think humanities Ph.D. programs would have shuttered their doors, boarded up their windows and hung a sign on the front entrance that reads, “Out of Business.”
On the contrary, a recent Inside Higher Ed article shows the number of humanities Ph.D.s rising by over 500 graduates between 2010 and 2012.
Why haven’t humanities students scattered like rats fleeing a sinking ship?
I earned my Ph.D. in English in 2004, and on average, I competed with 400 other applicants for each job I failed to get during my three years on the market. I understood I’d face these grim prospects during graduate school, but I told myself they didn’t matter. I told myself I studied for the sake of my love for the subject, not for the sake of a job.
Are today’s graduate students also on the passion track?
I wonder because for me, it wasn’t true. Passion lured me through the door, but something else bolted that door behind me.
I’ve tried to suggest that at least a portion of that pursuit can have gratifying economic results. (Plus it will not plunge us into an endless recession!) But that’s not really the point. The point is truth and beauty, without which our lives will lack grace and meaning and our civilization will be spiritually hollowed out and the historical bottom line will be that future epochs will remember us as a coarse and philistine people who squandered our bottomlessly rich cultural inheritance for short-term and meaningless financial advantage.
And that is why you should major in English.
Read the rest of this post on the New York Times.
This article from the Chronicle of Higher Education emphasizes the importance of reading fiction to enhance cognitive development in children. There are things that one cannot learn by reading a non-fiction text. Literary scholars rejoice!
What do [researchers] recommend for fostering constructive learning? Reading fiction. “Dramatic tension in stories is created when the various characters have disparate knowledge with regard to the action. This may be through error: The reader knows that Romeo does not know that Juliet lies drugged, not dead. Or it may be through deception: Pretending his assigned chore is an adventure, Tom Sawyer tricks his friends into whitewashing the fence.”
Here cognitive science joins forces with literary theory. Peskin and Astington’s research goes to the heart of the old intuition that reading fiction is “good for you,” defining “good” now specifically in terms of stronger academic performance across the board.
It turns out that informational texts don’t come close to containing the kind of metacognitive complexity so essential to fiction that we don’t even notice it. Consider these two inextricable features of fiction. It always functions on a higher level of metacognitive complexity than nonfiction, and it can achieve that higher level without explicit use of metacognitive vocabulary.
- See more at: http://chronicle.com/article/Theres-No-Substitute-for/143363/