Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I write this with some trepidation, because I'm sure I will eat my words in a decade or so. But nevertheless, I have to say: I HATE being on fellowship.

It seemed like such a good idea. A whole year to finish up my dissertation and go on the market for the first time. A chance, after teaching for the previous three years, to focus just on research, to immerse myself in archives and interviews and music and all that juicy stuff.

But you know what? I miss teaching! Part of it is simple time management. I always work better when I am overworked; my theory is that I will accomplish about 85% of my goals, so if I commit myself to doing too much, then if I do the math right I end up back at accomplishing 100% (or so) of what I actually need to be doing. This approach served me well in college and in grad school. Now, the days stretch before me with nothing but writing.

In addition, though, I miss the act of teaching. There has been a meme going around, started by Dr, Crazy, that asks academics why they teach their subjects. Historians, english professors, and scientists have all chimed in, providing a refreshing counterpoint to the usual Rate Your Students-style complaining. And you know, reading these posts, I am jealous. Doing research really just isn't the same without teaching. It's not that teaching necessarily helps with research, since it is rare for people at my stage in their careers to be doing much teaching on topics of their own choice. But there is a palpable synergy between figuring out new things, and newly explaining old things to people. I always used to get my best writing done on my days off from teaching, because being around students would give me the emotional energy to get excited about research. These days, as I write alone in my apartment with only a reproachful dog to keep me company...well, I look forward to teaching again in the fall!

To cheer me up, here is an amusing video (via MAN) about what happens when you have to dispose of a Richard Serra sculpture.


KG said...

Have you ever notice that my involvement with a certain TA union is inversely related to my teaching or exam load? I think you and I are of a similar mind.

Anonymous said...

Do you have a teaching gig lined up for the fall?!

PMG said...

ah, no...no, I don't.

Hey, anyone need a musicologist? Will teach for cheap.

cpo said...

I'm sorry you're finding this so hard! My first reaction, of course, is "try being DONE and having NO TEACHING." It really, really sucks. But I have faith it won't happen to you!

What helped for me (I was on fellowship my last 3 years) was, of course, teaching while on fellowship and being close to campus but also far from campus. I could get in, but the commute was a bitch.

I've had to write so many syllabuses this year (its kinda strange that I didn't have to do this my other years on the market, actually), that I've felt a lot more like a teacher.

Best of luck with getting some teaching soon.

PMG said...

Thanks CPO. It is a grim process, isn't it.

Rebecca said...

I know how that goes. I'm back in the classroom after a three year hiatus and I feel whole again (I'm not exaggerating). There is a dialogue that happens with teaching that just can't be replaced by all the archives, musicology conferences, and issues of JAMS in the world! I'm sure you'll find something!

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