Comments on: Forward my mail to Potemkin Village, please. http://www.historiann.com/2013/02/08/forward-my-mail-to-potemkin-village-please/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Mon, 22 Sep 2014 20:51:13 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Stephen Karlson http://www.historiann.com/2013/02/08/forward-my-mail-to-potemkin-village-please/comment-page-1/#comment-1345188 Sun, 17 Feb 2013 18:03:06 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=20579#comment-1345188 Years ago, William Arrowsmith compared the issuance of teaching awards in universities that focused on other things to creating a desert, then honoring the Druid of the Year, rather than growing forests. Little appears to have changed.

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By: SouthernProf http://www.historiann.com/2013/02/08/forward-my-mail-to-potemkin-village-please/comment-page-1/#comment-1337109 Mon, 11 Feb 2013 13:55:57 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=20579#comment-1337109 Best thing I’ve read in awhile because we have the exact same “Faculty and Teaching Learning Commons” entity recently created on our campus. They give out teaching “awards” to anyone who attends their workshops, enabling teaching-challenged colleagues to list such on their c.v. as if they have really achieved teaching excellence. Good lord . . . .

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By: History Maven http://www.historiann.com/2013/02/08/forward-my-mail-to-potemkin-village-please/comment-page-1/#comment-1335881 Sun, 10 Feb 2013 14:21:16 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=20579#comment-1335881 My graduate school experience turned me off of teaching centers. I was employed as a full-time managing editor of a scholarly journal for several years, helping to pay for grad school, when my department needed more teaching assistants. I took one section of a course. The TA’s were required (and were paid a higher stipend) to attend writing across the curriculum seminars. Due to my job, I could not attend all of the offered seminars. The center’s assistant called me one day and told me that the director wanted to speak to me about my absence. I was dressed down by the director and docked some money. But she could not answer my question as to why the center did not monitor teaching assistants’ employment of the center’s required writing emphasis IN THE CLASSROOM. In short, one could attend the seminars but never utilize the teaching strategies and be rewarded.

Aside: the teaching awards given by the center during my years at that university were all given to men.

Teaching centers depend on grant monies and an administration’s support and I suspect the measures of effectiveness are sometimes, if not often, at odds with departmental and college practices and expectations.

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By: Z http://www.historiann.com/2013/02/08/forward-my-mail-to-potemkin-village-please/comment-page-1/#comment-1335585 Sun, 10 Feb 2013 09:05:58 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=20579#comment-1335585 D-d straight on the awards issue.

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By: dance http://www.historiann.com/2013/02/08/forward-my-mail-to-potemkin-village-please/comment-page-1/#comment-1335166 Sun, 10 Feb 2013 02:07:56 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=20579#comment-1335166 Contingent Cassandra writes: “Honestly, if the majority of the faculty — including the teaching-oriented faculty — were decently paid and had loads that allowed for service, any necessary teaching mentoring could take place in-department, and any sharing of strategies among departments (which is a good thing) could take place in committee meetings and/or brown bags arranged by the regular faculty. The separate Center is, indeed, an outgrowth of the top-down, administration-driven governance structure that is not doing any of us any good.”

Does anyone know, back in the good old days, did this type of teaching mentoring actually happen? Because I entered a small, collegial, dept in a large public university in 2004, with a 2/1/2 load (VAPs taught 2/2/2 but we had no true adjuncts), where many of us taught the same class (capped at 20), where we took teaching seriously, and I don’t recall much of this happening. What level of pay would it take?

In moving from faculty to full-time advising, it has become abundantly clear to me that jobs in advising, at centers for teaching, and so forth, are basically ways to buy time for faculty by removing these items from their service load, and also to get better results by putting such items in the hands of people who won’t see them as an undervalued imposition on their research time. I don’t think we can wholly blame the growth in such jobs on a top-down administration.

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By: quixote http://www.historiann.com/2013/02/08/forward-my-mail-to-potemkin-village-please/comment-page-1/#comment-1335005 Sat, 09 Feb 2013 23:32:04 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=20579#comment-1335005 About the existence of great researcher — not so good teacher: absolutely. My second semester of inorganic chemistry was taught by a Nobel Prize winner who enjoyed teaching. He *loved* chemistry. He knew what he was talking about (even if we didn’t), he’d go off on tangents, he’d demonstrate how to work through an equation right in lecture, and forget to input something and have it not work out and start over.

I loved it. I’d never conceived of being that excited about yucky chemistry. It was just fun to watch the way he thought and to see him unable to get stuff right on his calculator. It was one of those “see new worlds, go places you’ve never been before” type of things.

But most of the students were pre-meds and just got irritated. And, to be absolutely fair, they were right. He was too disorganized to be good at teaching a 500-student basic chemistry class.

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By: Rachel http://www.historiann.com/2013/02/08/forward-my-mail-to-potemkin-village-please/comment-page-1/#comment-1334734 Sat, 09 Feb 2013 19:20:23 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=20579#comment-1334734 So my question is, do people who are great on the research talk but utterly terrible in the classroom really exist? I’m sure you got your job because you were good at both, but you were probably equally good, no? (So why the duplication of time & effort?)

Yes, they exist. Sort of. They don’t give great job talks but they give good/passable ones on their slice of research that engage enough of a research-heavy department that warning signs are ignored. Admittedly, the person I’m thinking of gave a job talk to mixed reviews (somewhat divided along geographic lines, with one group mesmerized by potential theoretical insights and the other frustrated by the absence of a clear narrative). Not shockingly, the latter is a telling sign that teaching could be a problem, and indeed, said person is a terrible teacher who students readily (and fairly) complain about being incoherent. This could be discerned from a job talk but probably would have been more obvious in a teaching demo. The real issue, of course, is that the R-1 department doesn’t care enough about teaching to use it as a metric in hiring. But then you get frustrated students, annoyed TAs, and a real brewing problem, all of which could have been ducked had anyone listened to the people concerned with teaching (a small but not insignificant faction).

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By: loumac http://www.historiann.com/2013/02/08/forward-my-mail-to-potemkin-village-please/comment-page-1/#comment-1334691 Sat, 09 Feb 2013 18:52:36 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=20579#comment-1334691 A representative from our Center for Teaching Excellence recently showed me the library’s brand new “active learning stations.” What were they? Rows and rows of computers lined up facing a lecture podium. Because active learning = pointing and clicking. Sigh.

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By: Comradde PhysioProffe http://www.historiann.com/2013/02/08/forward-my-mail-to-potemkin-village-please/comment-page-1/#comment-1334658 Sat, 09 Feb 2013 18:25:05 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=20579#comment-1334658 I found when I did the opposite of their advice and treat my students more like high school students and less like adults (even though it goes against the grain for me), they learn more and I get higher evals.

Do you have any sense whether this would be generally a good idea, or whether it depends on the level of course and quality of the students?

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2013/02/08/forward-my-mail-to-potemkin-village-please/comment-page-1/#comment-1334515 Sat, 09 Feb 2013 16:29:12 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=20579#comment-1334515 Janice, your story cracks me up! The advice to cut out on your own class to go talk about teaching just about sums it up for me.

Thanks for all of your stories. I guess I’m left wondering why people who can’t communicate well are getting jobs at all (as in the case that CPP notes.) In my field, that is no longer rewarded. I just can’t imagine approaching teaching a class and giving a research presentation very differently. Both require organization as well as being able to read and respond effectively to your audience.

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