Scholarly Persona

People often think that college professors spend their lives teaching arcane, highly specialized subjects in an environment of publish or perish.

The truth is, though, that this is the life of a minority of us. Most of us do very basic remediation with students who are absolute blank slates in an environment of perish but don’t publish and calls to “stop intellectualizing” from the administration and colleagues.

One can hand-wring about it forever. Or one can say to hell with it and live the life one wants to be living. This means making efforts to extract oneself from the minutiae of remedial teaching and inhabiting the scholar persona that is unwanted and unwelcome at my school. One thing I do is start my day with looking who’s been reading my scholarship on Academia. Gabon, Venezuela, Morocco – this is my audience. I’m a scholar who accidentally happens to teach that Latin America is not a country. And it makes for a great party story, so it’s not all bad.

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3 thoughts on “Scholarly Persona”

  1. Not only do colleagues want other faculty to not be intellectual, some of them even badmouth smart and well-prepared students. I recently got to listen to a colleague complain about how terrible it is that a student took a whole bunch of AP classes in high school. And this wasn’t one of those people arguing that AP classes aren’t rigorous enough or whatever. No, my colleague was saying how silly it is for somebody to work so hard in high school. Yes, God forbid that a student work hard to succeed in the most challenging courses that their school offered.

    I think that most of my colleagues actually disagree with that complaint. I think most of my colleagues actually do respect that kid. But most of my colleagues are afraid to disagree with the complaint, because the environment is such that complaining about a smart, successful, well-prepared student is considered acceptable, whereas praising that kid could result in someone questioning your commitment to equity.

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  2. In order to operate as you recommend, it is necessary to see the situation for what it is, I have found. A few things have happened this semester that have caused me to lose all respect for certain people, rescind all benefit of the doubt. It has taken this to for me to be able to step back into the scholarly persona.

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