Further appreciation for the Compleat Academic

One of the things I like about this book is that it says teaching takes time, especially with new courses. It tells new faculty not to fault themselves if all their time is going to teaching. Then it tells you how to take research time back. This is realistic. Before I started quailing to the academic advice that was one aspect of the complex I call Reeducation I used ideas from this book; if you looked at my vita you would see exactly when I stopped. The authors are of course talking about new faculty, but for institutional reasons my courses are almost all new, almost all of the time. You have to put time and thought into new courses — you just do.

Another good thing about the book is that it emphasizes the pleasure of work. It puts you in the center as manager, rather than cast you as a marginal being attempting to survive. Part of the pleasure of work is being at the head of your research program. Every good academic book I have read has a lot of work in it; the author is of course smart but they put a lot of work into their project. They did not flagellate themselves about perfectionism, or second guess themselves on whether a given question needed further examination or not. They gave it what it needed.

When I had heard too much about how one must avoid perfectionism, not revise, not read, just write, I began to fear the only way to avoid the sin of perfectionism was to be a perfect being who could generate prose without thought. I would walk through the halls and see other professors. I would think: “There goes someone who allows him or herself to think and to revise, but I am no longer allowed that.” I did not ask myself who was telling me this or what credentials they had, but I should have done.



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Filed under Bibliography, News, What Is A Scholar?

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