Thursday, May 5, 2016

Thursday Open Misery.


What's your problem?

34 comments:

  1. End of the semester. It's all good, especially over ice.

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  2. I'm too diverse for my surroundings.

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  3. Finals week. It feels like it's 30 days long.

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. "Mission creep" that's taking over more of May. Classes done, finals graded, grades posted.... BUT NOW, here's a meeting for this report, and here's a meeting for this.....

      I remember about twenty years ago, a colleague walking around all our offices to say goodbye for the summer and wish us well--on APRIL 30th. Those were the days, my friends, we thought they'd never end.....

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    2. Same here (though my final grading is far from done). Some of it's some variation on good news/be careful what you wish for, e.g. assessment activities that involve fairly nice stipends and are also a good chance for the mostly-contingent faculty in my program to talk to each other, activities associated with a successful grant application of a subset of the contingent faculty. Some of it's the more complex grading that comes from including all the little "scaffolding" assignments which played no role in my own education or early teaching, and which I genuinely believe are useful, but which I always get behind on grading. Some of it is. . . .I don't know. Maybe I'm just old and tired and slow and my concentration is shot?

      In any case, I'm very close to believing that we might be better off with a calendar with 3 full terms spread over 12 months, with pay *and* benefits adjusted accordingly (we're reasonably well paid for summer work, but not as well paid as during the year, and the benefits also come only with the 9-month contract),and perhaps the option to take off any one term, in return for 2/3 pay. For those who, unlike me, are actually paid to do writing and research, then an automatic term off a year to concentrate on those activities would probably make sense.

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  5. I still have one more year to teach before taking early retirement.

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    1. I could be forced into early retirement, or even on-time retirement, whether I can afford it or not (which isn't meant to be a one-up on the misery of teaching one more year, especially if conditions are increasingly miserable. Both are miserable in their own way.)

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    2. Oh, God, the trouble I'd cause if I only had one more year until retirement!

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    3. Even on multi-year contracts with an uncertain retirement date, I may yet find a way to make trouble. If only I could find a way to make it for the people who deserve it without making life harder for the people who don't. . . .

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    4. "If only I could find a way to make it for the people who deserve it without making life harder for the people who don't..."

      That's my problem, too.

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  6. Verbatim from a student e-mail I just got:

    "Thank you for a great semester! I really enjoyed this class!
    Our two text books are going on my summer reading list!"

    FFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

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  7. I'm in the UK.

    I have 7 weeks to go before 'summer'.

    During the 'summer' period, the university is being 'reorganised' into a new 'School-based structure' which allows 'efficiencies of scale' (via at least one more layer of management) with all non-laboratory support staff 'centralised into a single Faculty hub for greater efficiency' because it will be so efficient for academics from every department subject portfolio cluster (Departments are Divisive! but 'co-located portfolio clusters' are acceptable) to trek across campus every time we need a form or a paperclip or a bit of advice on something bureaucratic.

    At least the lab techs will still be based in offices/work spaces near the labs they are responsible for.

    ----Grumpy Academic----

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    1. "School-based structure"

      That's quite an idea for organizing a university. I don't know the name for my school's structure but I'm guessing it's more asylum-based.

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    2. We tried something like this reorganisation at my joint. The mid-level adminiflake who forced it on us was eventually run out on a rail.

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    3. I think the looming threat on many U.S. campuses is a humanities (and perhaps some social sciences) service-oriented "division" providing core courses only for a STEM-research-focused campus. This strikes me as unwise in the long term, but of course I'm a humanities proffie, so presumably I would say that.

      Not Grumpy's problem, presumably, since labs are involved, but tinkering with structures does seem to be one of the things when there are too many adminiflakes with to much time on their hands needing to justify their existence (and to squeeze the budget to fund more of their own kind, so the cycle can continue. Eventually they'll outsource all the teaching to an outside contractor, and retreat to a nice corporate "campus" distant from the students, if any students remain. And the only way they'll know no students remain is that the tuition dollars stop flowing).

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  8. I have a laundry list of changes I wish to make in an attempt to make next semester go better. And a list of mistakes I do not know how to avoid.

    The biggest problem is cheating on exams. I made three different versions of the final that changed the order of the multiple choice questions AND the numerical values/examples without changing the difficulty or the pedagogy of the question. Didn't help 100%; I observed suspected texting.

    Also no bathroom breaks during exams. Rookie mistake.

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  9. Sorry for hijacking, but I want to know what happened to the Timothy thread: What were the deleted posts about? Why were comments closed? I mean, it was so delicious. As much as I love you real goddamn moderators, you spoiled our fun! We had so much more to "learn" from little Timmy!

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    1. I thought the RGM's explanation on the post in question was both clear and reasonable. I also liked that the comments finished with the invitation for Timothy to stick around.

      For the good of the order I offer these links:
      Cradle Song by A. A. Milne
      a recitation set to music
      .

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    2. I was raised on A.A. Milne (mostly prose, but some poetry), and I hadn't encountered that one before. Great fun, especially in musical form. (I was raised on the "one little piggy went to market" formula for drying toes after a bath).

      And I have to admit that I was intrigued enough by the redaction of Tim's post to turn to the fragment of the original post still available in my blogger reading list and google and reconstruct at least part of what happened (yes, I was curious, too). As the RGM explained, it appears that somebody submitted a post containing somebody else's words without getting permission to use them in that context, and the original author complained.

      Given this blog's history with at least one person who repeatedly claimed hir work was being reposted here without hir permission, I'm not at all surprised at Cal's, and Crystal's, caution. Whatever the exact story, we don't need any more of that craziness, which is hard on moderators (and domain owners).

      I was also not at all surprised to learn that the luminary whose pedagogical approach Timmy claimed to be emulating at second hand was not only older than I, but in fact could easily have taught *my* father. So Timmy's thinking on the connection between age and eligibility to be a pedagogical role model seems a bit muddled.

      I'd still be happy to see him come back, though (as long as he submits his own work).

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    3. "I was also not at all surprised to learn that the luminary whose pedagogical approach Timmy claimed to be emulating at second hand was not only older than I, but in fact could easily have taught *my* father. So Timmy's thinking on the connection between age and eligibility to be a pedagogical role model seems a bit muddled. "

      I kept being drawn to thinking along the lines of that segment in Harry Potter where the old teacher invites his pets to a dinner party. So. Very. Old school.

      - Anon y Mouse

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    4. Eating Low SaltMay 6, 2016 at 7:46 AM

      I think it was just that there was a real world name used and that person apparently wasn't Timothy T., though I find that hard to believe.

      And if Cal owns the domain, then maybe the offending party found that address and used some kind of pressure. Like others, it reminded me of the Katie bullshit, but THAT was the greatest entertainment of all. If you don't know Katie from Kalamazoo, just search her on this site. Tons of good reading and drama!

      And of course it wasn't HER either...get outta here!

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    5. When I returned home last night and discovered the kerfufflIe, I also discovered that one of my open browser windows still contained the deleted conversation mostly intact. Here's a summary:

      May 5, 2016 at 9:03 AM: I post a link to one of two similar web sources of the text that comprised the majority of Timothy T's post. As I typically do, I use the linked page's title for the link. Well, guess what? The author has used his own name in his page's title, but I just copy/paste that shit without a second thought.

      May 5, 2016 at 9:14 AM: Timothy notes that I have "outed" his colleague, takes opportunity to praise said colleague and to restate that the two of them are better than any of us.

      May 5, 2016 at 9:37 AM: I respond that Timothy's colleague was outed by the significant portion of his webpage copied into Timothy's post, given that we here can simply use [a certain tool that we use to detect our students' plagiarism]. I say that I look forward to reading more of the page, and that relative to Timothy, the colleague is likely the better defender of their pedagogies.

      May 5, 2016 at 10:48 AM: EC1 says something that I never saw and that wasn't in my cached page.

      So, not very dramatic. I can't say whether "Timothy T." was just a pseudonym of "[his colleague]", but from this situation, I have learned to be more careful about dragging a third party, unwitting and/or unwilling, into this forum. I hope Timothy has also learned to be more circumspect about ramifications of quoting his colleagues.

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    6. What I said was something along the lines of that institution's website categories having been picked by the Dean of Appeasement, due to its customer-servicey nature.

      I then made a negative comment about the quality of the content on that instructor's page, because it seemed very naif.

      Timothy T is either an expert troll, or - if he's serious about the cookie / popularity stuff - altricial.

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    7. Oooh -- altricial! -- new and potentially very useful vocabulary! Thank you!

      And thanks for the recap, OPH. I assumed it was something like that, though I hadn't noticed the name in the url, which seems like an easy-to-make mistake. Presumably the colleague/Timmy (whichever it is) has some means of tracking links to the page (which is actually good practice; no issues there. Whether it's fair game to link to/excerpt stuff that's in plain view on the internet is another question, but giving appropriate and fully transparent credit is a pretty minimal standard for even informal academic discourse, and that didn't happen in Timmy's post, so redaction seems wise).

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    8. Yes, I too have learned a new word.

      I think Tim's colleague needs a name. How about Vasily "Cosmo" Cosmogapf?

      Anyway, I can cut Cosmo some slack for the "freshness" of the site I linked to, as it was likely created before he'd defended his dissertation. His name was not only in the page's URL, but also in the link's "text" similar to this:

      About NAIF.

      I think it collegial to inform Cosmo that where he got his latest degree, a postdoc in the med school cribbed a line for his own teaching narrative from Cosmo's narrative. It's the one about accountability to students, from "hold" to the end of the sentence. The overlap is highly unlikely to be coincidental, and the resulting ungrammatical sentence is a hallmark of copy/paste by a non-native speaker.

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    9. Considering that Conan admitted to trolling as a professor in the past, could it be...?

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    10. I'd be more inclined to believe it was "Aaron" the militant millennial. Like Timmy, that guy could not stop himself from saying that he was better than us.

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  10. My problem is that this time of year brings many meetings with struggling students, and at the end of the day, I am so drained that I simply ignore my email and thus am not responding to all my other students in a timely manner. It is not their fault that I am overloaded, but I wouldn't blame them for blaming me.

    Confíteor Deo omnipoténti
    et vobis, fratres,
    quia peccávi nimis
    cogitatióne, verbo,
    ópere et omissióne:
    mea culpa, mea culpa,
    mea máxima culpa.
    Ideo precor beátam Maríam semper vírginem,
    omnes angelos et sanctos,
    et vos, fratres,
    oráre pro me ad Dóminum Deum nostrum.

    Thank you for this opportunity. I feel much better.

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    1. I know the feeling. I have avoided more than one student email for the better part of a day, dreading one more question, quibble, etc., etc., only to open it and find a thank you for answering the last question, and nothing more.

      And it's not as if the questions and quibbles are really all that hard to deal with, either; I'm just exhausted.

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    2. From: PP
      To: Patty "so much wasted" Potential
      We need to talk about your plans and get you signed up for class. Can you come to my office hours. [List of office hours]


      From: Patty
      To: PP
      I can come tomorrow at [hour not among office hours].


      From: PP
      To: Patty
      I may have a meeting at that time, but it is not scheduled yet, so feel free to try.


      [Ninety minutes after the appointed hour and seventy minutes after I've gone on to more productive tasks]
      From: Patty
      To: PP
      OK. I'll come at [hour when I'll be in lab halfway across campus, a fact listed on the schedule card beside my door].

      [An hour later, when I am in aforesaid lab]
      From: Patty
      To: PP
      I'll come tomorrow at [another hour not among office hours].


      ...and so it goes...

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  11. My problem is also that I am still not the person I want to be.

    Earlier today, I became so intrigued with solving a puzzle regarding who might be trolling whom in another post that I unthinkingly shared information that I could have left alone. Whether that info was already publicly available, whether my linking to it merely hastened its use's inevitable discovery by its rightful owner, whether I am just narcissistic for proposing that I had any effect whatsoever---none of these are the point. I acted without thinking through the implications, and for that I am greatly sorry. This is not meant as a public, chest-beating mea culpa to draw yet more attention to myself; rather, it is my pledge to do better next time.

    Sorry and thank you both, Cal and Crystal, for any problem I caused and for your handling the situation with your characteristic grace.

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    1. > My problem is also that I am still not the person I want to be.

      You and me both. I started the term with such plans and determination to be more organized and prepared, and have ended it in another swirling cloud of long-overdue grading, and rush lecture preparations.

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