As usual, there’s some great stuff on Tenured Radical, on teaching and departmental life, which I think would be useful for people at almost any stage of their academic careers. Read these, and reflect. And if you have any reactions to these, feel free to share them with us here.
The first is a really nice set of tips for anyone getting ready to teach in the fall. These are the kinds of hints that seem self-evident, until you realize that you’ve been, uh, neglecting some of them for quite a while. Guess which piece of obvious advice I’ve been neglecting? Hint: it involves carrying around essays that I haven’t quite finished marking yet. [though I do get them back before the next is due] And I don’t have a class website or blog, because I’m afraid of being left in the lurch by our tech support.
The second post is about the “No Asshole rule,” which comes to us courtesy of Robert Sutton’s very smart and funny book with the same name. Well worth reading. The title came from the “rule” that he and his department of management science tacitly and semi-consciously developed at Stanford, when they decided that they liked each other already, and they didn’t want to hire anyone new who would disrupt what felt like a pretty good working environment. Of course, in the academic world, this felt like a shameful secret, that one would value the functionality of one’s working environment enough to stake hiring decisions on such factors. [And as my wife pointed out to me, some departments have an “all asshole” rule, where no one can be hired unless they can demonstrate their status as an utter and complete asshole. But that’s another post . . . . ]
In any case, Sutton’s book is useful because it provokes us into reflection, and makes us wonder how can we behave a little less like assholes in our daily lives. [Perhaps, for a start, by returning papers promptly?] And I appreciate the way in which Sutton points out how the shouting, bullying, or all-out aggression of just one person in a unit can render working life for everyone else extremely unpleasant, often by provoking similar though defensive behavior in everyone around him.
One of the