It beats doing real work…

I bet you thought I had given up on blogging.  Well, I have been a bit busy with the beginning of the semester, prepping classes, teaching classes, search committee meetings, preparing paperwork–in other words, same old, same old.  Anyone who thinks the life of a college professor is easy because we only “work” about twenty hours a week is sadly misinformed.  I don’t think I’ve only worked twenty hours a week since I was in high school.  Between prepping and teaching classes, visiting student teachers, attending meetings, and holding office hours, I’m lucky if I “work” only forty hours a week.  And that doesn’t include the “other” job, Business Secretary for the Pennsylvania Historical Association, or the research projects that keep demanding my attention (and keep increasing in number).

You are probably now wondering why I am rambling.  To tell you the truth–so am I.  Right now, it’s a way to procrastinate.  Deadlines are fast approaching (as in next Friday, February 4) to submit applications for courses to be approved for General Education for Fall 2011.  We adopted a new General Education program at Mansfield last month (the last week of classes during the fall semester), and no courses were “grandfathered” into the new program.  So I get the honor and privilege of preparing a couple of these applications:  United States history to 1877 and a First Year Seminar course called “Pathways to the Past” in which I will be introducing students to the exciting world of historical studies.  Every single course that will be included in the new program will undergo scrutiny from three committees–a special subcommittee that will screen the applications, the General Education Subcommittee, and the Academic Affairs Committee–before being submitted for approval by the University Senate.   Fortunately (or unfortunately), I’m on one of the special subcommittees, so I actually know what will be required for an application to be approved–which has its good points and its bad points, since I am a bit of a stickler for following the rules (no surprise to anyone who really knows me).

Another reason is that I kind of miss blogging.  There is just something about putting random thoughts out there and seeing if anyone reads them (or responds) that is appealing.  And, since my main outlet for blogging seems to be a bit dormant right now (and has been so for over six months), it’s a lot safer to do this than the other option (apparently throwing stuff against the wall is not a good idea when you rent property).  That connection, however, has turned out to be a positive experience in other ways (more on that next week, after I “test drive” something in a classroom that I have never done before–having a “virtual guest speaker” help me present a lecture on immigration history).  The PowerPoint has been done; now I just have to fine tune the text of the lecture (and figure out how to introduce the guest speaker).  For some reason, “some guy I met last summer” doesn’t really seem appropriate in this instance.  Anyway, stay tuned…


About Karen

History Professor. Baseball fan. Author of two books, one of which I force my students to buy and read. You want me on your Trivial Pursuit team.
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8 Responses to It beats doing real work…

  1. Liane Walta says:

    Hi Karen
    sounds very interesting what you are doing. Has “that guy you met last Summer “approved to your venture?
    It will be intersting to hear how things went.

    • Karen says:

      Yes, he has. He thinks it’s “very cool” that he’s going to participate in my class, even if it’s virtual. It has been fun acquiring all of the permissions to do this (even though I probably didn’t have to, I erred on the side of caution).

      • Liane Walta says:

        I think you did the right thing, probabbly the “rights” were by Blog talk, but I was certain that CS would approve and will probably want to know how things went ! He´s always for inovative things.I daresay you will blog about it. I listened to that talk again and indeed he made some very interesting points to the subject.

  2. ValerieRN says:

    I know what you did last summer! Hmmm…for some reason, it just doesn’t sound as scary as the breathy voice over the phone in the horror movie. lol Have fun figuring out how to introduce your “summer” man. ;o)

    • Karen says:

      Val–you haven’t seen my students. Actually, it won’t be that bad, as long as I can moderate the volume. When I tested it in the classroom this past Tuesday, it was on surround sound. Just imagine that voice rattling the windows, shaking the ceiling tiles, etc. at 9:15 a.m. And I’m at the front of the room, trying not to laugh–because I know what he is saying, and I know what comes after the part that will be “broadcast.” And I think I might just stick to the standard actor/entreprenuer bio that he has on his blog, and maybe mention how I know him and how I got the sound bite.

  3. Dan says:

    there are times when it pays to run a university like stalin… having things get caught up in committees and subcommittees has its uses, but just occasionally one needs the decisiveness of a dictatorship. at least they have someone who not only understands the administrative procedure (and thus how to circumvent it) but they also have someone familiar with teaching. should be some good times ahead for mansfield education.

    • Karen says:

      Dan–after preparing all sorts of accreditation reports for NCATE, NCSS, etc., I have become very adept at using the right jargon to satisfy outside agencies, as well as putting a lot of useless crap into the course syllabus to meet these needs. Some of the stuff I can understand (such as the need to have a statement about ADA compliance), but I really don’t think students need to see all of the SLOs in the syllabus. When I started at Mansfield, I was able to do a 2 page syllabus (one sheet front and back). This semester, it’s 10 pages, and it will only get longer. Syllabus review the first day just hits the high points that they need to know: textbooks, assignments, due dates, academic integrity policy, schedule. The rest apparently exists for the express purpose of satisfying outside accreditors (such as Middle States), with killing trees a lovely by-product.

      • Dan says:

        slo’s defeat the purpose of education, at least in a college setting. i always thought that course material was offered in such a way that you have more freedom to explore what it means to you as a student- essentially, you ask yourself, “what do i want to get out of this?” now it seems ever more slowly it is being whittled away to the point they are now told what they are supposed to get out of a particular lesson. this is the future of education, and one of the biggest reasons why i dropped out of the ed program.

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