What’s the Best Book You’ve Read Recently?

Please share.

I’m having an outstanding year so far with my reading choices. There has been a couple of losers but overall I’ve discovered some amazing books this year.

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Gendered Time-outs

I ask Klara, “Do you get time-outs at school?”

“No, mommy!” she says indignantly. “I’m not a boy. I’m a girl. Time-outs are for boys.”

I hope everybody realizes that I didn’t teach her this particular gender difference. This is a product of her observations.

Different Stages

This is the promised post on different stages of academic life.

Graduate student. The main big thing that differentiates a graduate student from an undergrad is that nobody babies and praises you all the time any more. As a talented undergrad, it’s easy to stand out but in grad school you need to rely on internal motivation a lot more. And it’s hard to relinquish the addiction to praise and to being celebrated like an uncommonly amazing creature. Plus, the time is a lot less structured and it’s a lot lonelier. So you have to become inward-oriented, and if what’s inside isn’t capable of giving much joy, misery begins. That’s why many grad students are depressed. They’ve been left alone with what’s inside, and it’s not that amazing.

Tenure-track. The difficult thing about tenure-track is the sudden autonomy. Now if you didn’t bother to study the operational papers before your third year on the TT, it’s your problem. If you banked on a book and forgot to publish articles, ditto. When I first created my own syllabi as a professor, I brought them to the chair so that she could tell me if they were ok. She refused to look at them and said, “If I hired you, it means I trust you to do your own teaching as you see fit.” That was a great professional lesson for me.

Tenured. I discovered that the way to be happy as a tenured professor is to stop seeing everything as being about you. During the tenure-track, you had to prove yourself, demonstrate that you are a worthy colleague, a great teacher, a productive scholar, etc. After tenure, it’s time to get more outward-oriented again but in an adult way. You have to start mentoring, running scholarly organizations or projects, looking at what’s good for the field or the profession, helping others, etc. It’s time to become a figure of authority and not just somebody who is still trying to prove themselves like a confused, underappreciated kid.

Every stage brings a different degree and kind of autonomy, and that can be a great thing if you are ready for it.

Passions

Turns out the season finale of SVU (an ideologically very lefty show) was all about anti-DREAMer propaganda. The new progressive position, it seems, is that legalizing Dreamers is unfair because they are “privileged.” They are not real victims, so screw them.

This is how public opinion is massaged to justify the rejection of legalizing Dreamers in return for reduced overall immigration.

I wish I were wrong when I said that the public wailing over Dreamers a few months ago was completely fake and nobody really cared about them.

It’s like abortion for Republicans. They don’t want to do anything about it. They want to use it as an eternal passion-stoking issue for their base.