The Tattooed Professor (AKA Kevin Gannon) has some New Year’s resolutions for academics and they’re so good, we wanted to tell you about it. We like the Tattooed Professor here at e.com, we think he’s cool and provocative; I like him because he is direct, something we working class people value. This time, the Tattooed Prof offers some kind words for you professors beginning your academic year. He wants you to be mindful and committed to a “better academe” because lord knows, higher education is fraught at the moment.
It’s great advice, the kind I used to ignore when I was adjuncting at Butte Community College and Chico State. I’d say, “Seven classes, no problem!” Academic Senate, 5 committees, and advising a student club? “Oh heck,” I would tell colleagues, “I like stress.” And I was full of shit, let me tell ya. What Tattooed prof wants you to know (me too) is that life-work balance is a good thing; eating at a table instead of in front of a computer is even better. Take time and don’t stress out, remember as Tattooed Professor’s wife would say, “Will any babies die?”
In addition to some good advice to chill out, I liked these points:
- Know your colleagues: Yup, tenured and tenure track, that means you need to stop and say hello to your adjunct colleagues in the hallway. Adjuncts are the red shirts of academe, and they know it. If you are truly committed to collegiality and student success, you will need to make an effort to cross that status boundary because a culture of collegiality starts with you all; those with power have to make the first move.
- Climb over silo walls: In other words, there are people at your workplace doing stuff that makes things flow and keep things running, these people are called “staff” and they are some of the most invisible and least appreciated people on your campus. While the president is thanking all the faculty in convocation and you all are atta-boying and atta-girling each other, these folk are waiting for you to leave so they can clean up. Get out of your offices and take a break from your clique, there are all kinds of people working on your campus.
- Know what you love to do: This one is my favorite because it was the kick in the ass I needed about writing. In this one, Tattooed Prof wants you to “Know what it is you love to do, and make time to do it.” Yeah, it’s hard to write, teach, do idiotic administrative paperwork, and eat/sleep/be human. I remember. Read this part especially, it is encouraging and important. These are words I heard before, but I like the Tattooed Profs version better: ASS IN CHAIR.
- Perspective: I kinda already talked about this one, but again, we smarty academic types struggle with life-work balance, we want to do it all and we can get pretty stressed out when we cannot. Academe is a culture of being stressed out, I have seen (and participated in) the “I’m so stressed out” Olympics, where I and colleagues would compare our crazy/busy lives (I usually lost because I don’t have kids). At any rate, remember to ask yourself, “Will any babies die?” If the answer is no, then CHILL OUT.
- Check your privilege: After reading this one, I want to have a collegial coffee in the campus coffee shop with Tattooed Professor and his administrator wife. Finally, a White dude with tenure lays it out. I don’t need to say anything else, I’ll just drop this quote below.
Ask yourself: who chairs our committees? Who speaks the most in faculty meetings? Do we enable academic bullies? Contingent faculty have an array of macro-institutional dynamics stacked against them. And this is just on the faculty-staff side–our students also experience the effects of power and privilege. What’s our role been in that? Who do we call on in discussions? What assumptions do we make about students’ levels of preparation or suitability for different programs of study based upon their backgrounds? What are we implicitly doing with and among our students? What are the “hidden transcripts” embedded in our interactions with our classes? Have we abetted the operation of privilege? Or have we called privilege out–named it–and let our students examine it critically, to discern its operation and effects?
Enjoy reading this piece, here’s the New Year’s Resolutions for Academics again if you missed it above. At the bottom of the page, Tattooed Professor posted a pic of his Pittie-Boxer mix Daisy, a beautiful dog with a great mantra: “Wag more, bark less.”
***Here’s my Pittie-Jack Russell mix Twilly, his mantra is play, play, play!