Friday, December 14, 2012

Now where did I leave that plow?


Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus agrees to leave the farm for a spell.

For whatever reason, people keep mistaking me for someone with ambition. For almost five years I've been reluctantly chairing a committee to revise the general education core.  As of a week ago Thursday, that job was done. I'm sure I mussed a few people's hair along the way, and I acknowledge with regret that I could have done any number of things differently or better.

Even so, I won't apologize for the results.  We created a core that is assessable, we sutured its outcomes to the curriculum in the majors, we reduced and streamlined the outcomes, we expanded the first-year experience, and we created on-going over sight.  This is not a 'set-it and forget-it' core.  More importantly, we did all this without the usual turf wars that often accompany large-scale instututional change. 

So it rankles just a bit to receive an email offering me tepid congratulations, passing along some anonymous criticisms and sarcastically looking forward to my "future leadership."  The criticisms I accept, and the fact that not everyone likes the new core was probably ineveitable.  But my future leadership? 

That stings.

During this process, I ended the program I was responsible for.  I happily passed on the chance to become the new core director, gave back a budget to the university and created the position of my future supervisor.  And now that the work is done, I am elated to crawl back into the classroom and do the work of teaching.  Just teaching.  Period.  That's all I ever wanted.

Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.

Not fighting, but joining...

I've spent the past two semesters trying to get my first-year students to measure their success by something other than their grades.  ...