Friday, September 27, 2013

Out of Touch

I got an email the other day from a friend of mine who's moved into administration, and moved a couple schools away now.  This friend and her partner (who is retired) are planning to go on a cruise during Thanksgiving week of next year (so planning way ahead) and have sent information to a number of friends, encouraging us to sign up for the cruise, too, because it would be way more fun to have a bunch of friends on the cruise.

It would be more fun, of course.

I emailed my regrets, because there's that whole teaching thing that means that some of us can't just take off for 8 days in the middle of the semester.  And my friend emailed back that she'd hoped I could make arrangements since there's so much lead time.

It strikes me that my friend's sort of forgotten what faculty life is like, eh?  I mean, yes, I have a lot more flexibility to travel in summer, but pretty much none during the semester.  She has much more flexibility in terms of when during the school year, so long as she can make arrangements ahead.

And then I wondered how the deanling here with my friend's same basic job would feel about faculty deciding to take off during the middle of the semester and make other arrangements.  How about if we all did it!  (The deanling below about my friend's current level is the deanling who sends us emails about not canceling classes on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, with admonishments that we have to be there, but should be forgiving of students who aren't.)

And then I wondered if maybe people really can do that?  I mean, I can see how you might be able to pull it off if you teach two classes a semester, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and you decide to cancel the one Tuesday class, which pretty much gives you a week plus a day on either end, and voila, you're there?

But someone who teaches an 11 credit load?  Four days a week?  That seems like a lot of canceling classes, doesn't it?

(My friend taught and administered here for a bit, so knows our load.)

I know of a faculty member who makes other arrangements (has his students do on-line stuff) so that he can go to the first day of hunting season every year.  But he doesn't do it for the whole week, I don't think.

(To be honest, I don't think cruise ship stuff is much for me.  I did go on a cruise once, on a 41 foot boat with three crew and four passengers, for five days in the Galapagos, but that seems like a world of difference from this sort of trip.)


  1. I know people whose schools/teaching mean that they can't even cancel classes to go to a conference. And I'm trying to figure out what the heck I'm supposed to do about MLA this year, because it's happening in the first week of the semester--so if I go (and I should), I have to cancel the second and third days of class--or do it online, or bring in an outside speaker, or something. That's... problematic. I really, really don't want to do it, but not sure what else I can do if I get interviews.

  2. I think you can do it -- cancel multiple classes -- if it's for something academic, as in Sapience's example. (I think you can do it and should do it, especially with interviews, Sapience! Believe me, your students won't mind starting class a few days late!)

    But canceling to go on vacation? I don't even know tenured professors who do that.

  3. We've got a new hurdle at our school (one that Sapience alludes to): If we want to go to a conference, we have to submit a statement of precisely what we'll be doing to make sure that our students have some sort of instructional activity. I understand that this sort of thing is probably coming down from On High (read: state legislature), but it's demoralizing. I want to shout: "Hey! I'm doing MY JOB here!"

    I can't imagine what they'd say if I were to take a week off (okay, a half-week for Thanksgiving week) for a cruise. Hey! since your friend's in academia, maybe you can ask her to declare herself and the cruise a conference?