Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Academic Life

I grew up in the home of a professor and at a very young age I already grew to resent people who claimed professors didn't work very hard. I knew how many evenings and weekends my father spent marking papers or prepping classes or working on an article or reading books for review. I knew that every summer when we went on holidays he packed his briefcase filled with books that needed to be read while we played cards or read novels. One year he kept track of his hours because he was tired of the same comments. He averaged 75 hours a week of work that year. It was a normal year.

He didn't resent it however. He loved his work. He loved research and writing and he loved teaching. He shared his love with me, taught me to do research, involved me in his projects, taught me how to grade papers by showing me how he did it. I spent afternoons at the university with him, meeting his colleagues, listening to their conversations about their research or something they had just read.

I still get angry at people who dismiss university faculty, who diminish the work that goes on there, that advocate the kinds of funding cuts that jeopardize opportunities for young academics and force class sizes larger and larger.

So I was delighted to read this article by Clifford Orwin in the Globe and Mail! I love his closing paragraph.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not seeking your sympathy. I differ from a tree in that my sap rises twice yearly – once in the spring with the approach of research season, and once in the fall with the return of the cycle to teaching. While I would rather teach fewer students, you shouldn't confuse that with wanting to do less teaching. My colleagues appear equally sappy. Teaching may not be our only business, but we're serious about it.

We should all be so sappy about our work!


Evan said...

Thanks for linking this article, it was a great read. I'm glad to have discovered your blog, and I've just added you to my blogroll.

Erin said...

Thanks Evan - I really enjoy yours as well and had added yours to mine when I noticed mine on yours :-)