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Friday, January 7, 2011

Robbing Peter to pay Paul...

...and sometimes Mary. I often feel like I'm doing this as a faculty member. Perhaps everyone feels this way. The last meeting with the collaborating faculty group reminded me of faculty's constant state of "insufficient time" as I watched Pete fall asleep in the meeting and heard Nina talk about waking at an early hour for her health.

I have a colleague at a university on the east coast who says: "Career, family and can never have more than two of the three." I know this has been true for me, yet I've really been trying to see how it is that I'm creating this condition.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Lurker Speaks

After briefly participating in the meeting today, I am finally contributing to the blog as I said I would.

Just a brief thought in response to a comment about "public humiliation" that was brought up. Rather than comment on the phrase I did want to say that it brought up in my mind the idea of what we think we might want from students in the classroom versus what would make our own lives easier in the classroom. I sometimes wish that the students would be clones of myself -- curious, thoughtful, willing to make a comment and, most importantly willing to learn. Of course, this would make my teaching life easier in so many ways. I could relate to students better, all my course preparation would make sense (and my lack of preparation wouldn't matter because they/I would obviously understand) and we could make lots of progress in the time together.

This is, of course, absurd.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I feel I am blogging too much!!! Roger encouraged me to state this openly. It is kind of funny, but there is some way in which I think if I blog, others wont. Well…doing it anyway.
Neal and I are considering a project to creatively develop a supply-chain and distribution systems for gleaning crops in the county. This project incorporates the (second) harvest of food and the distribution of this food to food-banks or other locations that service the poor in our community.
I met with Neal earlier this week and we determined that while our desire to collaborate is strong, it seems structurally unlikely this quarter. This is a bit discouraging for me as I want to begin learning how to work with faculty in other disciplines, but I guess I must learn something else first. I must learn something about what is keeping us from collaboration here at Cal Poly. Below are some of the structural issues (per my observation) along with what I assume were the initial positive intent.

in the classroom with a dissolving ego

I am one of two faculty "teaching" a junior-level course that meets for 12 hours a week. In the institutional way of accounting, it is 50% of both the students' and the faculty load for this quarter. I've only taught this course once in my career and its subject matter is on the periphery of what I would call any alleged expertise.

Trevor and I set up the class so that it will be a combination of guided self-directed learning and faculty-directed activities. This is of course quite shocking to the students; most of them are in courses driven by faculty decisions. I've noticed two remarkable things only after two days of "teaching" this course.