“There is something wrong with you! You have no sense of urgency about time!” I was recently admonished while sitting in my chair reflecting upon Patricia Hampfl’s delightful book of essays entitled The Art of the Wasted Day. Don’t retire, accelerate advises Bracken Darrell, Head of Logitech, in a recent LinkedIn blog piece.
Here are some of my previous thoughts about time:
A canceled meeting! How best to make use of that unexpected 50 minutes—that gift of time. Maybe catch up on Profhacker blog pieces sitting on my RSS feed? Here are five of them:
- When the technology changes on you? Seems germane.
- Slowing down and learning about “deep listening”? I should also turn off my twitter feed that tempts me with messages from some of my favorite thought leaders. I am so easily distracted.
- Hints for teaching a large online course. I may try this when I leave Carroll.
- Making a WordPress Site Multi-lingual: Lately I’ve been exploring translation and language software.
- Exploring “gamification“: I’m still somewhat chary of moving in this direction, but intrigued by the creative writing/ gaming applications of English Professor Colleague BJ Best.
TIME was the campus -wide theme for Carroll University (Waukesha, WI, USA) during the 2014-2015 academic year. Across my years of teaching, I have enjoyed creating special courses (‘Why War?” “Happiness” “Pioneering Web 2.0 Technology Tools”) when I have been allowed time and total control over the course. Had I offered a course on this theme of time, I would have include the following as required reading and videos:
Time to walk with the Dog!
Above: Computer Rendering of My New Office
Even after more than 40 years of teaching at Carroll, the first day of class is anxiety-arousing, pressured, critical, and rewarding. As a youth, I was so anxious about giving oral presentations that I fainted when I participated in my first school debate. I had a similar melt-down during the oral exam component of my graduate school general qualifying examinations in Social Psychology at The Ohio State University. With experience and a few set backs I’ve learned to over learn and to reframe (attribute) the performance anxiety I inevitably am experiencing as excitement for the task at hand. Sometimes, too, I whistle a happy tune!
These academic first days-of-the-semester pressures are primarily situational nuisances: making sure that my syllabi and handouts are up-to-date, proof-read, and sufficient in number; visiting the classrooms ahead of time to better guarantee that there are enough seats and that the computer equipment works; thinking through how to handle disruptive classroom situations in particular classroom environments; and of course trying to respond in timely fashion to the myriad course-related emails. An added challenge this year is having the contents of last year’s temporary office moved into a brand new office which I have never seen on August 20. The move will occur while I am vacationing in Canada. No doubt a good part of on campus non teaching time in September will be consumed by sorting through the several hundred boxes of my stored materials as I both unpack and pack up again in preparation for leaving Carroll at the end of the academic year. Looks like I might need another bookshelf:) though I have contacted some graduates about taking any books they might want.
For me the first class meetings are vital for relationship and credibility building — for getting to know my students, creating shared and appropriate expectations, and establishing standards for students and for me. This semester I am teaching two sections of PSY 205 “Statistics and Experimental Design” (and its two labs). Based on 1) student evaluations, 2) what my students demonstrate that they can do at semester’s end, 3) how I feel every time I teach it, and 4) feedback I get from alumni “Statistics and Experimental Design ” is without doubt my best taught course. Among the challenges in teaching such a class successfully are the attitudes that some students bring (“I hate math”; “I don’t do well in math”; “I’m afraid”), weaknesses in students’ fundamental computational skills, and their inexperience with my strongly believed outlook that statistics (and data analysis) is a tool, a language and a way of thinking. Here are some reflections I shared a few years ago about teaching the course.
With the able assistance of my student research assistants, I shall continue to focus research and writing time on the topics of aging, brain health, and brain fitness training. I applied to become an APS Wikipedia Fellow with an interest in brain fitness training. And I do plan to participate again in the SharpBrains 2018 Virtual Summit.
I have spent quite a bit of time the past few years thinking about aging and more specifically about brain health and brain fitness training. Two books written by geriatric psychiatrist Marc E. Agronin have very much shaped my recent thinking this summer about these topics. I shared some of my reactions to his latest book (The End of Old Age) in an earlier blog piece. NPR a few years ago provided a useful summary of Agronin’s earlier book How We Age: A Doctor’s Journey into the Hear of Growing Old.
In this earlier book Agronin acknowledges the known biology of the cellular aging process (e.g. the Hayflick Limit) and the successive shortening of telomeres with cellular divisions. However, heavily influenced by the thinking of the late geriatric psychiatrist Gene Cohen, Agronin persuasively and eloquently argues in this earlier book that aging is not and should not be thought of as a disease. Reading this earlier book which is enriched with detailed case studies of his patients was enlightening about my own myopic, age-centric views.