Showing posts from April, 2016

Stop all the clocks

On Friday the semester comes to a close, which means I have reached the end of another academic year, my 25th to be precise.  Next week the Board of Trustees and the president will give me a desk clock.  Tick, tick, tick.  Not that I'm ungrateful, mind you.  It is altogether fitting and proper that we mark these little milestones.  Still I might prefer something more germane to the job: a course release for a semester, a few extra bucks in my faculty development account.  Heck, I would even go for a few stiff drinks on the house.

It's been that kind of semester.

The biggest challenge was teaching a course made up of academically-challenged and at-risk students.  Even though I adjusted the course and scaffolded the hell out of the assignments, I just could not get all of them over the finish line.  Two disappeared and a good number will likely have to leave as the result of consecutive semesters of academic probation.  Many days I just felt like I was tormenting them more than…


My old undergraduate German professor once began waxing on about Faust after our class had done poorly on its last examination. To be specific, he was talking about Faust, Part II, a work seldom taught even in German schools.  It's apparently complicated and difficult to understand without an extensive knowledge of classical philosophy and literature.    

Anyway, Herr Professor told us how Faust--grown very old now--had become a high-ranking minister for a powerful king.  In this role, he finds himself engaged in a massive engineering project using dikes and dams to hold back the sea.  Beset by obstacles and setbacks, he is discussing all of his plans to improve the lives of his people and it is at this precise moment that he realizes he is happy.  Big mistake.  Happiness was the payoff Mephistopheles had promised in return for Faust's soul.  And so the old man promptly drops dead.

"You see?" My German professor said. "It is in the struggle, the work, the toil