Fake It Till You Make It in Academia

Another ridiculous article has appeared in Chronicle of Higher Education. Its author promotes the “fake it till you make it” mentality. This is a slogan of people in telemarketing companies, and the hapless academic suggests we apply it in academia:

And all is not lost if you have crossed over the line to disliking teaching. It is still perfectly possible to do a good job, even an excellent job. In fact, it probably happens on your campus every semester. The trick is as simple as it is human: Hide your dislike. Effective teaching is, after all, a set of behaviors. What students need from us are clear presentations, careful selections of course material, engaging discussions—in short, the right behaviors. One of those is hiding your dislike. Students don’t learn by peering into your mind to see if you are enjoying teaching. Why would it matter to them if you feign it?

No, it doesn’t matter to the students. It matters to you, doofus. You are destroying your own mental and physical health by forcing yourself to do something you don’t like doing. What is this, a Masochist’s Manifesto?

If you keep doing something that doesn’t make you happy, you have a good chance of pleasing others. But is the cost to yourself ever worth doing a good job, being effective, and giving people what they need? We only have one life here. Why waste it on self-torture?

Here is an intelligent response from a blogger whose writing would be a much more valuable asset to an academic publication.

Putin’s Divorce

I think it’s great that Putin is getting divorced. This tradition where politicians pretend to have good marriages and then entertain the entire world with their miserable little affairs is too ridiculous. Remember how stupid the Clintons looked because they forgot to get divorced on time?

Also, Putin’s divorce will put a damper on the attempts by the Russian Orthodox Church to control the country. With only 2% of the population actually practicing, it is a disgrace to see the priests become ubiquitous in the country’s politics. Putin’s declaration that he is getting divorced comes immediately after the priests tried to push through the legislation that would make everybody who wants to get a divorce pay a fine. It’s as if Putin spit in the face of these nasty Russian Orthodox priests.

Remember, Russian Orthodox priests collaborated with the KGB throughout the existence of the USSR by revealing the things people confessed to. Since 1991, the priests have enriched themselves beyond what you can even begin to imagine by selling vodka and tobacco and not paying any taxes. They also sell any religious service you want to have performed. If you are a criminal who needs a priest to sprinkle Holy Water on  the walls of the room where you kill your enemies, this can be arranged.

At the same time, the priests want to impose on all women of the country a uniform that will cover their bodies. They say this will be done to prevent women from provoking men into raping them. They are also pushing through legislation that limits reproductive freedoms and rewards people for procreating massively.

In short, I’m happy to see Putin stick it to these hypocrites by announcing his divorce.

The Older Generation

Yesterday’s lecture at the community center about the economic crisis in Spain went very well. These lectures are attended by the local retirees, and I really love American retirees. Older people in my own culture are always completely beaten down, miserable, decrepit, and extremely mean. The only hobby I ever saw them pursue is spreading vile rumors about their younger neighbors. In the US, however, people in their 70s and older are energetic, engaged, extremely interested in the world around them, eager to learn more about politics, arts, foreign affairs, etc., receptive, and kind.

They always listen to the lectures with such deep attention that I keep wishing my 20-year-old students were capable of such breathless concentration on the material.

The really positive thing about the lecture was that the projector didn’t work and I couldn’t put on my PowerPoint presentation. So the talk had to be given in the old-fashioned way: without any flashing screens to distract people from what I was saying. This worked very well for the retirees. They already knew a lot about Spain, and I didn’t have to spend half of the time narrating the basics.

Everybody always says that if you want to know a country’s potential, you should look at the young people. I, however, believe that we need to look at the older generation instead. In this country, you constantly see people of very advanced ages living full existences and in no way feeling left behind by the times. We are all moving in the direction where they are today, and it’s good to see that the place where the older people find themselves is exciting and intellectually stimulating.