Two faculty meetings in one day: that’s sure to be the most fun I’ll have all year!
The first was our annual gathering of the entire university faculty, when new hires are introduced, old faculty are “reco’nized” (our leader is one of those who drops his “g”s) and awarded, and we all get a pep talk. They’re pushing us to be “True Blue,” we Blue Raiders of Murfreesboro. But that’s not a marketing slogan, “they” insist, it’s an affirmation of our commitment to being “student-centered”… and that means “graduate ‘em!” We got out of Tucker well before noon this year, and on to the only free lunch we can expect. That was good for my morale.
Then, the first departmental staff meeting of many… despite my motion to meet with slightly less frequency. Seems to me we’re no more decisive in our weekly sessions than we ever were, even back when meetings tended to be impromptu hall-collarings. But I’m not The Decider.
I shouldn’t complain, I’m no longer a Senator and my other committee responsibilities are perfectly intermittent. But the meetings I really signed on for are the ones beginning Monday, the ones where I’m the oldest guy in the room without a close second.
I usually begin, once we’re past preliminaries about office hours and exam dates et al, by noting the summer reading assignment that most haven’t completed. Like many schools now, we seek to “provide a unifying experience” and “encourage intellectual interaction among students” (ahem) by designating a book all (or at least all freshpersons) are encouraged to have read by Opening Day.
Faculty are also encouraged to read and incorporate the summer selection into early lesson plans. In the past I’ve enjoyed doing that, with philosophically-suggestive titles like Listening Is An Act of Love (the StoryCorps book) and Three Cups of Tea (before Greg Mortenson became infamous).
But this time I’m kinda stumped. A Peal in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean just doesn’t resonate with me. I suppose students are expected to identify with the metaphor of being tossed about by stormy weather, far from shore. I just can’t get past the puzzle: why would any sane person try to row the ocean, in the 21st century? “Just because it’s there” does not strike me as an intelligent answer.
But I’ll ask the kids. They know more than we tend to give them credit for.