Monday, January 09, 2006

Lunchtime Post, in Lieu of Work

Ok, so I'm eating a delicious lunch (leftovers: mashed turnips, spinach, tilapia with almonds and parmegiano reggiano; I brought celery with peanutbutter and celery with cream cheese for snacking) and I thought I'd post again, on a variety of topics:

Teaching: A graduating senior listed me as the professor who has had the greatest impact on his/her academic and personal development, or so says the letter that I just received from the VP for student affairs. See? For all of my bitching, I really am a good teacher! (And it's nice to have that confirmed, because sometimes I wonder whether I get through to them, or whether they just think I'm a crazy bitch.)

Research: When in doubt, always submit that conference proposal a few days late. Of course they'll still accept it! Yay! (This whole, "spend a month in Europe" thing may just happen! Hurrah!)

Also, something I started thinking about after reading comments to Bitch Ph.D.'s and my posts about writing. I noticed a fair number of responses that said that they tend to do all major writing work during breaks from teaching. You know, I think that I imagined that such would be the case for me when I was offered this job, but now I realize that I kind of need the summer to recuperate from the academic year and that I'd rather do research throughout the year than to put it off until the breaks. I realize that isn't the best option for everybody, but I suppose I feel like it's worth saying that not only is it possible to have a research agenda while teaching a 4/4 but also I think the only way for me to have a research agenda is to do the two simultaneously. Now, we should note that I've not got kids or family obligations of any kind (unless we count fulfilling every whimsical desire of the Man-Kitty), so perhaps this will not be the case should I ever acquire those. But I don't know. I suppose the way that this works for me is that I have to find a way for my research and teaching to connect in order to do things the way that I am doing them, and this means that my teaching IS scholarly work and my scholarly work IS teaching work, too. In other words, I think I'm good at finding the links between the two and exploiting them, which I couldn't do if I relegated research to my "off time."

Also, I think it's important that I say that I do not view research as some sort of vacation from the grind of my job. Research for me, while immensely satisfying, is its own grind. It, as much as teaching is, is work, albeit a different kind of work. And so I think it's important that I recognize it as such and thus allow myself to take a break from it, too. I don't know. I suppose that I think it can be dangerous to fill all "off time" up with research work. There has got to be time for lying on beaches and drinking whiskey, too, you know?

On that note, I think that I will go and make some book order requests using the incredibly cumbersome library online form that makes me want to die.


Dr. Lisa said...

Congratulations on your nice letter!!! What a lovely compliment, and how marvelous that the student sent it to somebody like the VP of research.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

I agree with you about not leaving research to breaks (and I have colleagues, in 3/3 land, who say the same thing - that they only get research done on breaks). I certainly get more research done on breaks (though I take breaks too!), and it's probably slightly different work (I have a hard time doing sustained archival stuff, even if I have the docs here, during the school year). But I don't WANT to leave research to breaks! I certainly don't manage to think about it/get immersed in it every day, but I'd like to think about it more frequently than every 3-4 months.

Terminaldegree said...

What a great letter! Those sorts of kudos really get me through the dark days...


Dr. Crazy said...

Thanks, everybody. I should note that this is a question they ask of all graduating seniors on a survey and so the letter from the VP is a form letter meant to go in the P&T binder, but it made me happy nonetheless as it's the first time I've gotten one.

NK: I agree that one has more difficulty doing certain parts of the research/writing thing during the semester - the same is true for me. I think the thing for me is that I can't be off of research for 9 months and then manage totally to immerse myself in it for 3. I need to always have it lurking around someplace so that I don't have to go through the pain of starting up after a long break, I think. I think this is what conferences can be good for - keeping research on one's mind even if only in the form of a 15-minute presentation.

Kate said...

Congrats on the letter, how nice!

I agree that research is work and it can't occupy all off-time! I get annoyed by folks who completely fetishize academic work, like just because we've found a job we like means it's no longer a job, but a "calling." Meaning, there's no point in doing anything but sitting in our little ivory towers, even when the whole thing's crumbling around us from casualization, adjunctification, postdocification. When universities are investing in hedge funds instead of their communities and are lying about it.

I love love love my work, but that's exactly why I fight for it and union organize at my university rather than sit in the library stacks in every off minute I have.

Sorry, didn't mean to get going there on a rant :).