Wednesday, January 2, 2019

How to think about the end of the semester

Academic Twitter throws many messages at followers, many mocking the ever-present desire to produce more.

Of course these tweets are usually about producing more scholarship. Traditional scholarship. Disciplinary scholarship.  Feeling bad/guilty/like an imposter because you didn't hit some (perhaps) self-imposed goal of x manuscripts submitted/accepted/reviewed? Allow me to suggest another metric that might allay your fears and self-doubts, and better capture your productivity: how much have you done for your students?

As I have occasionally chronicled in this blog, I used a different text for one of my classes this term, necessitating writing new jigsaw prompts for every day of class. That's 29 class days I had to address. In the end I wrote more than 120 prompts. That took countless hours (wish I had counted). I also read 33 student papers, including two that I really love, one among the best I've ever gotten. How many student emails? For my class of 170 I got 1,614 emails. I walked a student to the counseling center. I went to 3 graduation ceremonies. I'm improving on my course for the spring that already is a good course. Work, a lot of work. And I feel really good about it and I'm not ashamed to say so.

This is the job (at least for me): teach well. That's how we should be evaluating ourselves, that's the most important dimension. 

Of course, you should do the other things well as well. I'm sort of on record for saying that faculty should do more than just their job. And many faculty do.

Should you get paid more if you do more than your job? That's a topic for another blog. 


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Another set of jigsaw prompts from Intro to Psyc

Here are some jigsaw prompts from the Consciousness chapter in Gazzaniga's Intro text. Feel free to steal, alter, and/or critique these to your satisfaction.

Do you know about the transporter device in the Star Trek universe? From Wikipedia: “Transporters convert a person or object into an energy pattern (a process called dematerialization), then "beam" it to a target, where it is reconverted into matter (rematerialization).” Let’s say we actually invent this technology. Do you think you would be the same person after transporting? If you do, then you are a materialist, not a dualist. Can you figure out what this means?

ANSWER: presumably the transporter does not dematerialize, beam, and rematerialize souls because souls are not a material substance (they are spiritual). Thus either a transporter would strip away your soul – making you a different person – or it creates an identical version of you in the new location, meaning it would be you. Most psychologists are materialists, meaning they don’t believe there is a soul; everything is material, real, substance, including our consciousness. We are not dualists.

Search YouTube for “The New Science of Psychedelics”, produced by Penguin Books. The person in the video, Michael Pollan, has written a new book called “How to Change Your Mind”. Describe the content of the video and compare how Pollan talks about hallucinogens with how the text talks about them.

ANSWER: Pollan speaks of them as both beneficial as well as harmful, while the book is mostly harmful.