April
26th 2010
I got nuthin’.

Posted under: jobs, unhappy endings

This is an artist’s rendition of my skull right now.  I’m sorry, but I really have nothing of interest to say.  Truly.  I am beyond even wishes and desires now.

Except maybe this:  our semesters are about two weeks too long.  At this point, everyone is faking it, and they’re not even doing an especially good job of it.  How on Earth did I manage to earn a B.A. with only eight meager 12- or 13-week semesters?  Like that old commercial for Tootsie Pops used to say:  The world may never know.

21 Comments »

21 Responses to “I got nuthin’.”

  1. Janice on 26 Apr 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    Poor you! I have adjusted to the short 12 weeks of classes, 3 weeks of exam, term schedule here in Canada. I miss the leisure to cover some elements at greater leisure but suspect that it would only lead to greater burnout.

  2. Indyanna on 26 Apr 2010 at 6:32 pm #

    Hey, Historiann. Everybody could probably take some downtime too. Maybe we could scroll down and touch up a few existing threads that got left behind in the, what are they calling it at the USDE, the “race to the top?” Maybe you could enroll a few visiting assistant bloggers for an occasional breather?

    I went to a place on a trimester system, where we had three ten week “terms” and took three courses each one. I wouldn’t particularly want to teach on that system now, and indeed my old school has gone to semesters. But for an inquisitive student it meant you could really focus in, and sprint for the end zone. We also didn’t have the ludicrous mercantilistic pseudo-distributional curriculum I’m practicing in now, where, well, you know. They mail it in, I pretend to mail it in.

  3. Historiann on 26 Apr 2010 at 6:41 pm #

    Thanks for the tea and sympathy!

    I have considered a co-blogger, but then I don’t think it would work for me, what with my control issues and all. (And no one, I mean NO one wants to see that.)

    Back to my empty brain-pan now. I need to refill. I picked up Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall a few weeks ago and I need to spend at least 20-30 minutes reading it before I go comatose and start drooling on the pages in order to get back into it. (But that’s usually what happens with me and my bedtime stories.)

    Has anyone else read it (or attempted it)?

  4. Dickens Reader on 26 Apr 2010 at 8:05 pm #

    I must be a weirdo. As an undergraduate, it was not until the midterm that I would get going. It was so good. I was high on all the learning/reading. Then the final would come not as something to dread but as a reminder of how it was all about to be over. The final-semester final (senior thesis) was like attending a funeral. Today when I attended a training session for work, I realized how much I miss school, because the “real world” is just not academic. Of course I cannot breathe a word of this to my co-workers, a mixture of people who never had the privilege of going to school, hated school and did not finish, or was forced to go for their parents and now cannot remember a thing about what they learned when they were there, and/or have not kept up with current theories/philosophies, thus, their education is dated if not outdated. The closest to that environment now is to peruse clever blogs and JSTOR (and the like) in which I still have access because I will forever remember a professor’s sign in and password from a time I did some research for hir. I must wish forever that ze never leaves. Alumni status allows library privileges but only if one physically goes into the library. Who wants to drive all the way to the university, pay to park, feel guilty over occupying a computer that some student may need (especially during midterms or finals) just to access JSTOR when the university could give the alumni that privilege (even if it costs us a little more) from home.

  5. Mamie on 26 Apr 2010 at 8:55 pm #

    I have fantasized about ending my classes at 12 weeks, giving the students the last three weeks to work on final projects. I imagine making myself available during class time to give one-on-one guidance (knowing that at Small Urban U, hardly anyone will take me up on that). But I’m too chicken to try it, even with tenure.

    I am so bored with my classes at this point, even the one I really love to teach.

    Two. more. weeks.

  6. shaz on 26 Apr 2010 at 8:59 pm #

    When your quarter system colleagues are struggling to finish the third term of the year in June, you’ll barely remember the late-April struggles…

  7. Notorious Ph.D. on 26 Apr 2010 at 11:37 pm #

    I’ve heard good things about Wolf Hall. It’s on my summer reading list, for sure. In fact, I think I’m going to ILL request it now, so it’ll be waiting for me when I’m home and over my jetlag.

  8. Perpetua on 27 Apr 2010 at 4:07 am #

    I agree with all the suggestions to switch to a system of 12 weeks of coursework plus a couple of additional weeks without classes for final projects. This is a much saner system than 15 weeks of classes + exams. No one learns in those last weeks. I used to be on the quarter system, however (10 weeks + exams), and found this to be way too short – and worse still in the winter/spring when there was only a spring “break” turnaround between terms. (During which all faculty are submitting their final grades.)

    I’m counting the seconds to the end of semester – even my excellent grad seminar is beginning to unravel (we can’t stay on topic).

  9. Nikki on 27 Apr 2010 at 4:57 am #

    I enjoyed Wolf Hall–but it took me forever to get through b/c it was also my bed-time reading.

    We are in our last week of classes and everyone is done. I don’t even have the energy to be annoyed with the students.

  10. eduardo on 27 Apr 2010 at 5:39 am #

    I hear ya. I’m in my last week of classes now and keep saying to myself, “let’s just get this thing done.” But the fun times are still a ways off. In two weeks, Maymester begins … No joy in Eduardoville until early June.

  11. ej on 27 Apr 2010 at 7:02 am #

    I hear ya! I’ve been limping along for about a week now, just trying to muster up the energy to stand in front of the classroom for 50 minutes. I guess it doesn’t help that this is my last semester in my current position-makes it even harder to fake it.

  12. Historiann on 27 Apr 2010 at 7:37 am #

    When I resigned my first job, the rest of the teaching there was more fun than ever precisely because it wasn’t going down on my “permanent record.” I could just do what I wanted to do and serve the students, and I didn’t have to worry about student evaluations or ever discussing my teaching at that institution with anyone ever again. And you know what happened? I got the best evaluations ever.

    Dickens Reader makes an interesting point: the academic calendar has these times, but then we get to start all over again. It’s what I’ve always loved about the school calendar: there’s always a fresh start. No semster actually goes on forever (although it may feel like it sometimes.) I think that would be a very difficult thing to get used to were I ever to leave academia for a “civilian” 9-to-5 job.

    And, eduardo: Maymester? That’s a terrible neologism to impose on one of the loveliest months of the year, in addition to a terrible burden for you and your colleagues. WTF? (I’ve heard of January terms, but then what the hell else are you going to do in a northern clime in the middle of winter, right?)

  13. Indyanna on 27 Apr 2010 at 7:51 am #

    Wasn’t there a Maymester on the French Revolutionary calendar? Didn’t something big (or awful) happen in Maymester of the Year II? Maybe I’m just wrong…

  14. squadratomagico on 27 Apr 2010 at 8:04 am #

    I’m with Shaz: we quarter-system folks have months of misery ahead…. Quarters end up being more work than semesters, I think, even though we start later than you. Part of the thing I hate about it is that there is almost no time off during the year. It’s not uncommon to submit grades on Dec. 21 or so, then return to work on Jan 2nd; and “spring break” is usually about 3 days off (grades due on a Tuesday, then the remaining three days of that week free, a weekend, and back at it.) We don’t have time for a “reading week” before exams, which I think would benefit the students immeasurably. Lastly, for quarter systems all bureaucracy pertaining to classes — scheduling times and rooms; ordering books and readers; giving permissions for advanced classes; negotiating class lists and waitlists; dealing with finals — is increased by 50% over a semester system. I have no idea why any university would implement them.

  15. Historiann on 27 Apr 2010 at 8:11 am #

    Squadrato and Shaz: I agree. Quarters stink, and badly. I’m grateful never to have had to deal with them.

    Indyanna: Maymester was the month before Brumiere, right? (Heh.)

  16. Kathie on 27 Apr 2010 at 8:41 am #

    All of my higher education – undergrad, grad, and most of my teaching has been on the three quarter plan, and I personally got to really like the fast 10-week pace of things. The one time I taught in a semester program, I thought I’d never get to the end of the class, it just kept going and going and going … Much too long for me — and for the students!

  17. Susan on 27 Apr 2010 at 1:35 pm #

    Two more weeks of classes. Last week I did individual conferences with students on their papers (that way they started on them) and this week they are giving presentations. Otherwise I’d be dead now.

    Just saying.
    I bought Wolf Hall but I’m leaving it for summer, when I hope I’ll have time to read.

  18. Historiann on 27 Apr 2010 at 1:45 pm #

    Maybe we could all have a book club discussion of Wolf Hall? If Janice reads the book, maybe she’ll want to host–but I’ll be happy to have it here.

  19. eduardo on 27 Apr 2010 at 3:38 pm #

    Yes, Maymester is awful, isn’t it? I do feel like my head will come at any minute, as well.

    We have two summer terms, a 4 week (May) and an 8 week (June-July). They are optional for profs to teach, but they pay so damn well that I usually volunteer for one of them. Ah the joys of a 10 month pay schedule …

    But the load doesn’t seem as heavy this year … awarded tenure this month.

  20. Historiann on 27 Apr 2010 at 3:50 pm #

    Hey–Congratulations! Have a Pisco Sour on me. (Or the M—-r F—–g Jameson–which might be more your style.)

  21. Indyanna on 28 Apr 2010 at 7:39 pm #

    Congrats, eduardo! Summer sessions that “pay so damn well…” This is rich. At my unionized and otherwise pretty lucrative uni, summer “contracts” are actually offered at a significant discount to the standing scales for the rest of the year. (Something about not having to do committee work or something like that). When I started the old tuskers who were on the statewide employee pension system (keyed lavishly to the state legislators’ benefit rakeoff scheme) would eat these babies up to push up their baseline salaries for the final 3-year pension-defining bracket. Us TIAA-Cretins wouldn’t touch ‘em. But now the tuskers are grazing offsite, the institutional demand for year-round revenue streams is rising fast, and one fears that the word “mandatory” may creep into the next contract rhetoric. If ‘n when that ever comes to pass, I’ll be hopefully tending goats in the Pyrenees somewhere.

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