Thursday, February 05, 2009

On the Rage, and Its Dissipation

Ok, first of all, I apologize for poofing posts and then writing about things vaguely as if you all read the poofed thing! That is so annoying of me! See, but I needed to poof that post from a few days ago because it just wasn't the sort of post I like to have on this here blog. It was too specific, too unmeasured, too too too.

But so anyway, here is a more measured version of the things that have been making me mad at the world.

I think it's a combination of three things. First, I think that the world in general, particularly a world in which budget cuts are at the forefront of the conversation, is just really depressing right now. If the cut happens that will likely happen in my state with this budget cycle, it will mean that the budget of my university has been cut by a full 15% over the past two years, between the money we've been made to give back (retroactive cuts) and the money that is no longer there in the future (ongoing cuts). We are already the lowest funded regional in our state. We are also the fastest growing regional, and the expectation is that we're being expected to continue to grow, only with no money. This is.... disheartening. And there is no way for cuts this deep not to affect students. So my angst related to this stuff actually has little to do with my bottom line, but more to do with a deep sense of dissatisfaction and disquiet about how my students are going to pay in very real ways for the decisions of our legislature. Second, I have had a lot of service-oriented stuff going on lately that is almost entirely thankless (a) and that is not making the progress that I would like (b). It's service that I care about, but at the same time, I also feel like those who like to express philosophical objections to practical plans should really man up and offer practical alternatives. Either that, or they should keep their mouths shut. This goes along with my angst related to the budget, as the things that I'm attempting to shepherd through actually cost NO MONEY and NO RESOURCES but rather they are things we could do to improve our students' lots without any influx of cash. Those who object, I think to myself in my darkest moments, only object because they don't want to make any freaking effort or to make any changes that would mean their comfortable status quo is in jeopardy. Finally, I think a lot of my problem over the past few days is that I've been "measuring with a yard stick" as my mother would put it - i.e., I've been measuring all of the work I'm doing and the compromises I'm making against other people who aren't doing the work and who aren't making compromises and yet nonetheless expect to have a voice in various processes. I need to stop thinking about what other people are (not) doing, and think about what matters to me and why I do what I do, and stop expecting that others will do as much or being angry when they don't. The point isn't that I'm being abused: I'm not. I'm doing what I believe I should do. So if others aren't, I shouldn't let that send me into a tailspin of rage, as it's counterproductive.

So, as you might gather from all of the above, I'm not feeling quite so pissed off today as I have been lately. Why? I thought you might be wondering. Well. First of all, my students are grand. Second, I gave my first test in theory, and while I've not graded it yet, a number of students expressed that they felt like the test, while challenging, really helped them to get a handle on the material and to feel a mastery over the core concepts that they'll need going forward. I think that's what any test should do, so I'm feeling pretty pleased, even though I've yet to do the grading. I also feel pretty confident that most of them will do fairly well on the test (although I did have a student just turn the test in without answering 90% of it, admitting to have blown the course off to this point and promising to do better, though we shall see). I also have students doing really neat research projects, and I've had really great conversations with students this week about any number of things, and so all of that is awesome.

I'm not totally caught up on grading or prep, but I'm in decent shape and well on my way to being caught up. In terms of my own research, I'm in a deeply procrastinatory place, but that is part of my process, so I'm not feeling overwhelmed. And I've done some service stuff for the organization of which I am president, and it feels good to be on top of that. All in all, I've been incredibly productive, I've been a good colleague, and I've been an excellent teacher. So sure, it enrages me that so many people suck so hard, but really, that should not be what I focus energy on thinking about.

So now I'm done with teaching for the week, tomorrow I have to go into campus for a candidate visit and then go to a candidate dinner, and then I'll be set for a weekend of writing. So sure, the sky is falling in terms of the university's budget, and I hate some people, but really things are quite grand. I've got a post brewing about advising students in relation to going to grad school, but I've not thought it through entirely yet. Anyway. Enough. More on that later.

1 comment:

Doctor Pion said...

Yep, don't waste energy on something you can't really do anything about.

IMHO, it is the job of your university President (and my CC's President) to make the case that we already operate close to the bone and serve the most vulnerable populations in the state. We deliver the same course as Big Dog U for a fraction of the cost. We are not where the fat is. But I am not holding my breath waiting for my boss to speak truth to power. Power doesn't want to hear it, and will just cut us more because we don't have a football team and had the gall to speak out.

Vent, and carry on.

Oh, and eat some chocolate. A colleague passes out ice cold Peppermint Patties when we need to "get over it".