More mirrors on the ceiling, more pink champagne on ice.

17 05 2011

Hotel California by the Eagles has been running through my head a lot lately. I think it’s been because I’ve been feeling kind of trapped in a professional sense [Shoot, just look at that picture of the Mad Hatter over on the right. If that wasn't a cry for help, I don't know what is.] I recognize that I’m a prisoner of my own device, and have no plans to run for the door anytime soon (although I know some excellent blogs by people who have and totally respect that decision). It’s just that if I’m going to be trapped doing what I’m doing for the foreseeable future, I want more mirrors on the ceiling, more pink champagne ice and less of the stuff that just makes me whiny.

As a result, I told my department chairman yesterday that I will not be teaching online anytime soon. It’s not as if I think that it’s inherently evil (various readers of this space have talked me out of that position), it’s just that I don’t have the time or the patience at the moment to do it in a manner in which I could be proud. For heaven’s sake, it would be an overload class anyway and I’m already overloaded (just with other things besides teaching). I didn’t write this in the note, but with all I’ve been writing about online education charlatans lately, it’s also that I really didn’t want to wake up some day soon and realize that I’d become one myself.

To top things off, I have a textbook to write this summer. It’s currently coming up on two years late (which was making me feel trapped), but the publisher was nice enough to recalibrate the due date ’til September, which I think is actually doable as I do have four chapters done already. I started working on Chapter Five this week and have had a wonderful time, especially the day I spent three hours reading William Stead’s If Christ Came to Chicago! for the first time while looking for material. [Maybe someday I'll post what he has to say about professors. It's awfully prophetic.]

This blog certainly counts as one of those things that makes my job fun. While I write about my job rather than actually get paid for doing this, the skills I’ve developed in the course of during this endeavor have literally made me thousands of dollars and changed the way I research and teach. However, as most regular bloggers recognize, it can make you feel trapped too. Therefore, at least for the summer, I’m going to try going on an irregular schedule here as I work harder on other things.

I will post whenever I have something really good to share and definitely have time to write it up well. [If I can't get to the second part of that, I guess I'll just share it on Twitter.] So look for me to fill this space more like once a week for the next few months rather than the every weekday that I usually aim to reach.*

I fully expect regular weekday posting to resume in the fall as working on this blog is about the most fun I can have trying to avoid work when it is being forced upon me (which tends to happen at that time of year). For now though, since I have to work this summer anyways, I’m going to try to stick to the things about this job that I always enjoy.

* I’ve run into a bunch of people lately who don’t use RSS readers for their blog reading pleasure. If that’s you, then you should definitely sign up for a Google account and start using Google Reader immediately, including subscribing to this blog right here. Basically, these things stop you from having to visit every blog you like over and over again to see whether the author has written anything new. It will make your online time much more efficient.

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4 responses

17 05 2011
Music for Deckchairs

I’m just curious, but was your department chair asking you to teach online? What? Why? What happened when you said no?

(I’m curious about what changes when we shift from a culture of people teaching online because they wanted to and were willing to put aside the time to do it, and people teaching online because for a range of reasons their institutions want them to.)

18 05 2011
Houston, we need to talk about content | Music for Deckchairs

[...] feeling tetchy about the pressure to create more online courses, such as the always interesting More or Less Bunk, whose crusade against online charlatanism has caught my eye. And while I can’t quite salute [...]

18 05 2011
Jonathan Rees


Technically, it wasn’t my department chair. Our last provost contractually obligated the university extension system to offer every history course online and we in the department prefer if permanent faculty do the teaching. I was one of very few people to show any interest in the endeavor, and that was really just for the money.

One of the things I was thinking of putting this post was something the chair told me when I told him I changed my mind. He said they said that they could make us teach online. My response to that would be bring it on, as that would be an interesting hypothetical.

1 09 2011
The things I do for this blog. « More or Less Bunk

[...] few months ago, I set some ground rules for the blog going into the summer: Write only when I have something to say and have the time to [...]

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